MARCH 28, 2001
Barrichello blames media for controversy
RUBENS BARRICHELLO says that there is no problem between him and the Ferrari team, despite rumors suggesting that all is not well after the Malaysian Grand Prix. Barrichello was reportedly unhappy about the way in which Michael Schumacher overtook him in the course of the race at Sepang. Barrichello was also not impressed by the fact that after the race Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn said that he had made a mistake and called in "the wrong car" during the pit stops. At the time Barrichello was leading Schumacher and will not have been happy to hear Brawn's comments as he is supposed to be the equal number one to Schumacher.
Within Ferrari there is a school of thought that Barrichello is as good a team mate as Schumacher is likely to get but there are others who feel that the team should be thinking more of the future. Michael Schumacher will not remain with the team for ever. He is 32 years old and there will come a time when he begins to slow down. It happens to all racing drivers as they get older and richer and their priorities change. In most cases they may lose the edge of their speed but make up for it by using the guile which comes with experience. At the moment there are no signs that Michael is losing his motivation nor his speed but the team has to plan for that eventuality.
Thus, the hiring of a star from the next generation makes a great deal more sense than keeping a second driver of the same basic age group as Michael. The obvious candidates for that job would be Jenson Button or Kimi Raikkonen and although both are under contract elsewhere there is no such thing as a solid contract in Formula 1 as most deals can be negotiated away if the money is right...
Barrichello says that he is not intending to get into contract negotiations until the summer but there is no doubt that his contract is up at the end of the year and he must work out whether it is time to stay or time to go.
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