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Honda website

MAY 14, 2001

Barrichello still waiting for pay-back from Schumacher

SUNDAY's Austrian Grand Prix was not the first time that Barrichello has been forced to defer to his team leader in such obvious fashion. In last year's Canadian race he had to wait behind Schumacher in the pit lane before his Ferrari could be serviced, as a result of which he lost a 20sec lead and finished second.

In the closing stages of that race in Montreal, Schumacher was grappling with a front wheel bearing problem and Barrichello eased up dutifully, following him across the line even though he was capable of lapping much quicker.

"He is a good man and one day I will pay him back," said Schumacher after the race.

For his part, Barrichello is still waiting for him to return the favor.

So you can see why Barrichello's understandably grudging compliance with team order to move over at the last minute to allow Schumacher through to second place behind David Coulthard's winning McLaren-Mercedes in the Austrian GP left him so frustrated.

However, it also enabled the Brazilian to kill two birds with one stone by making very public his dissatisfaction with his current number two deal with the team, something which was even acknowledged yesterday by the usually self-absorbed Schumacher.

It may also lead to Barrichello getting a contract for 2002 finalized earlier than he might expected.

Indeed, Ferrari's normally astute sporting director Jean Todt may like to consider Barrichello's future with some urgency. To many people in the formula one paddock his insistence from the pit wall that his second driver handed Schumacher a meagre two point bonus with 11 races - and therefore 110 points - still to run, looked like a false economy.

With Barrichello so obviously incensed, the only real way of placating him may to offer him a new contract for next year, thereby ensuring his continued help should Schumacher find himself in a mathematically tight situation later in the season.

Ferrari's technical director Ross Brawn admits that he would be quite happy if the team continued with Barrichello as number two. "He has matured a lot since he came here and is a good team player," he said.

Time to do the decent thing. Well, the expedient one, anyway.