MAY 10, 2004
Did Ferrari play games with Rubens's pit stop?
Rubens Barrichello's second pit stop in Barcelona was a bit of a mess and there were some who wondered whether given the strategies of the two Ferrari drivers whether or not Michael Schumacher might have received a little help from the team from the fumbling with tyres. Barrichello was obviously a little unhappy after the race, saying that he was called in by the team one minute and 20 seconds before the stop and so there was no reason why things should have gone wrong. When there was a similar problem a few years ago the team introduced a system to try to make sure that similar problems would not happen again and after the race Ross Brawn did admit that the team had "cocked up".
It is a nice conspiracy theory to think that Ferrari delayed Rubens to help Michael to win but the facts do not bear it out. Before the final stops the two Ferraris were circulating around five seconds apart for several laps. There was little progress being made until Rubens made an effort on his final full lap and reduced the gap to 4.8secs. His IN lap was a 1m21.642s. He spent 27.1s in pitlane and this meant that his OUT lap (which includes the pitlane time) was a 1m43,744s. Schumacher then came into the pits for his third and final stop. His IN lap was a 1m20.844s, which was six-tenths faster than Barrichello's. Michael was in pitlane for 23.8s (which was 3.3secs less than Barrichello) and that gave him an OUT lap of 1m40.133s. If one take out the 3.3s lost with the problem, Rubens was still three-tenths slower than Schumacher and so when that is added to the six-tenths from his IN lap we can see that Michael made nearly a second on Rubens on the track. Barrichello lost the 3.3s because of the problem but it would not have made any difference because when they were both up to speed again Michael was 10.6secs ahead.
One can argue that this took pressure off Michael but it was not a big deal given that Rubens would have been nearly six seconds behind Michael without the problem.
Sorry, no conspiracy...
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