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Barrichello and Ferrari

THERE has been much speculation in Italy in recent days suggesting that Rubens Barrichello will sign a deal to race for Ferrari next year, replacing Eddie Irvine. This is not very likely as Ferrari has no reason to change the current arrangement with drivers - which is working very well - and Irvine has no other really serious options in F1. While the Jordan team might be convinced to re-sign Irvine his arrival would undoubtedly disrupt Heinz-Harald Frentzen and with the team needing to score some good results next year, it is more logical to support Frentzen rather than stir up trouble by bringing in Irvine.

It is also hard to imagine why Barrichello would leave his existing job to become number two at Ferrari. There is no reason - except perhaps money - that Michael Schumacher should give up his dominance within the Ferrari team. At the moment his number two driver is contracted to help Michael win the World Championship. This is a frustrating job but Irvine has been very well paid.

Barrichello is still only 27 and he is currently in the position of being number one of what will become the FordÊMotorÊCompany's factory team. He has been with the team from the very beginning and is settled and there is no logical reason to change. Ford seems to be intent on winning in the future and Barrichello would seem to have more chance of success if he stays where he is.

The only logical explanation for the rumors, therefore, is that Ferrari and Irvine are bargaining to reach a price for Eddie's services next year. He wishes to demonstrate that he had other opportunities while the team wants to show that there is no shortage of other drivers available.

We expect Irvine to stay where he is next year - unless he wants to commit career suicide.

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