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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
January 15, 2004

Barrichello Signs New Two-Year Deal
Brazilian driver Rubens Barrichello has signed a $15m, two-year extension to his Ferrari racing deal in Formula One, the Maranello team announced on Wednesday.

It covers the 2005 and 2006 seasons, according to a spokesman.

Barrichello, who'll be 34 when the new deal expires, faced the press with the good news at his team's annual ski meeting in Madonna di Campiglio (Italy).

'I'm very proud,' said Rubens, who joined the Scuderia in late 1999.

He continued, 'I have done this at the right moment in my career and it is another step forward. Ferrari are happy with me and I am happy with Ferrari.'

Barrichello said the two-year deal would not let him relax on the grand prix grid because there is still a 'lot of work to do.'

The news serves as a blow to Roman hopeful Giancarlo Fisichella who's recent Sauber switch was seen as a move closer to the world title-winning outfit.

Former Ferrari tester Felipe Massa was also linked to the drive.

The amiable 31-year-old, Barrichello - who still lives in his home city of Sao Paulo - said he expected '04 to hold race wins and his future to fulfil a dream.

'I expect to win the world championship,' he said. 'At least one.'

Barrichello Had Other Options On F1 Grid
A two-year offer from Ferrari was not Rubens Barrichello's only option to keep charging on the Formula One grid beyond this season.

The Brazilian revealed at a ski/press meeting in the Italian alps that there were 'other contacts' that would have kept him racing in 2005 and beyond.

'That is certain,' said Barrichello. 'But my first option was always to stay with Ferrari.'

Rubens said his management stayed firm with the Maranello-based outfit that a new deal should cover at least two seasons.

'We never talked about a [single] year,' the 31-year-old added.

'So in view of the mutual faith we have in each other, we took the path that led to the signing of this contract which took place yesterday.'

And Barrichello insists that, despite external assessments of his over-emotional character, doubts over his future in the paddock nonetheless left him 'calm.'

'I kept my feet on the ground,' he said of the long wait for a new deal. 'I knew that this contract was not related to the same dates as the others.

'I had other options but Ferrari's was the best. I kept cool.'

Fisichella Happy With 31st Birthday Present
On Wednesday, Sauber presented their new Formula One driver, Giancarlo Fisichella, with a personally-crafted 31st birthday cake.

But that wasn't the Roman's best present at the Valencia race-circuit.

Here, at the Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo, he got 33 laps at the wheel of his brand-new racing car, the Ferrari-powered C23.

Fisichella completed a program which focused on functionality tests, according to a press statement issued by the independent Hinwil-based outfit.

'The new car felt good on the track,' he said. 'I did a few runs in the afternoon and everything went well.'

Giancarlo, who's been on the Formula One grid full-time since 1997, noted that usually at a roll-out, there are 'some problems.

'But today everything was working perfectly,' he smiled.

Fisichella, one of F1's most highly-rated, endured a horror year of competitiveness in 2003 in a Jordan despite his rain-soaked win at Interlagos.

Next week, Sauber heads to the Circuit de Catalunya with its new C23.

'Then we can make comparisons with other cars and see just how competitive we are,' Fisichella continued. 'C23 ran so well, so I'm happy.'

RB: Three More Chances To Claim Schu's Title
Rubens Barrichello sees a new Ferrari contract set to run until the end of '06 as 'three more chances' to claim his first F1 drivers' world championship.

The 31-year-old's deal brings him up-to-speed with team-mate Michael Schumacher and Jean Todt and Ross Brawn, all under contract for three more years.

Rubens, who arrived at Ferrari to replace Eddie Irvine for the start of season 2000, said he hasn't yet 'arrived at the top of my performance.'

Moreover, former world champion Niki Lauda believes that Barrichello is even better than his superstar team-mate from Germany at setting up a grand prix car.

'When he is faced with a 'funny' car,' said the Austrian, who also raced scarlet cars in the Seventies, 'Rubens can often get more out of it than Michael.'

Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn seems to partly agree.

'Many times Michael has adopted Rubens' set-up,' said the large Briton. '[The Brazilian] is always underrated.'

Rubens Is Underrated: Ferrari's Brawn
Rubens Barrichello is an underrated Formula One driver.

That's the assessment of Ferrari's technical director Ross Brawn who questions a corner of the racing press which is claiming surprise at his new two-year deal.

'Rubens is always underrated,' said the burly Briton.

He added, 'But he is always a valued member of the team.'

Barrichello's new $15 million contract, which scuppers the scarlet hopes of Giancarlo Fisichella and Felipe Massa, was announced in Italy on Wednesday.

Brawn said the 31-year-old's contribution to Ferrari was highlighted in 2003.

'The short practice before [one-lap] qualifying obliged us sometimes to have the drivers following different paths, and then we chose the best one,' he said.

He revealed that 'Many times Michael adopted Rubens' set-up.'

Brawn said Ferrari has always been 'totally confident' in everything that Rubens Barrichello does on and off the Formula One race circuits.

The conclusion of Rubens' new 2-year agreement will mark an almost unprecedented seven-year stay in scarlet for the amiable and highly-rated Paulista.

Williams 'On Alert' For New F1 Driver
Formula One team principal Sir Frank Williams is in no rush to select a replacement for McLaren-bound defector Juan Pablo Montoya.

The Colombian, JPM, won't swap his BMW-branded overalls until late this year but budding alternatives, like Mark Webber and Jenson Button, are already lining up.

'We are not giving the question of 2005 too much thought right now,' Frank said.

Montoya's current 28-year-old team-mate, German ace Ralf Schumacher, is likely to sort out a contract dispute and stay at Williams for a couple more years.

Williams said his Grove-based talent spotters are on the 'alert.'

But he cautioned, 'I'm not standing on the street corner keeping a look-out.'

BMW-Williams has announced its intention to give second test drives to two sons of former Formula One world champions, Nico Rosberg and Nelson Piquet Jnr.

Ecclestone Pledges Support For Bahrain
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has re-asserted his support for the inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix in the face of persistent terror threats.

The 73-year-old said Formula One was 'extremely serious' about its new commitment in the Middle East and would continue to offer 'full support.'

He added in a statement issued on Wednesday: 'We have a long-term agreement with Bahrain to organize the grand prix.'

Bahrain will host its - and its region's - first-ever F1 race, on a purpose-built, $150 million facility in the deserts near Sakhir, in April this season.

Bernie said 'nobody' is immune from terrorists who nonetheless particularly threaten the Middle Eastern region, according to the British Foreign Office.

Ecclestone insisted that neither he nor the circuit have received any threat.

The head of F1's commercial destiny visited the International Circuit near Manama late last year and reckons the construction is ahead of schedule.

'The entire Middle East region is a victim to [terrorist threats],' added a spokesman for the Bahrain Formula One circuit near capital city Manama.

He added, 'Bahrain takes its national security as a matter of paramount importance and is working ... to minimize any risk.'

Villeneuve Is Paying For Arrogance: Rubens
When Jacques Villeneuve gets to the end of this season having failed to turn a single lap in a Formula One car, he would have paid for years of arrogance.

That's the opinion of Brazilian ace Rubens Barrichello who, on Wednesday, celebrated a new two-year extension to his contract with Scuderia Ferrari.

In total contrast, JV - the 1997 world champion - is left out in the cold after an unceremonious dumping by BAR-Honda and a snubbing by the rest of pitlane.

'He is paying for all he has said over the years,' 31-year-old Rubens insisted at Ferrari's ski/press meeting in the Italian alps yesterday.

Barrichello said Jacques, from Canada, had 'no respect' for anyone.

'He didn't respect [Jenson] Button and is perhaps paying for that - for his arrogance,' said the Ferrari driver.

Nonetheless, Rubens insists that Villeneuve is a 'good driver' and passes on his wishes that he'll find another role in pitlane before too long.

RB also rejected the media's wild and widespread praise for Formula One's youngest-ever winner, Fernando Alonso, who's 'far from' the finished article.

Barrichello said when he arrived at Ferrari in late 1999, as a 27-year-old, he was 'very young' and drove only with 'passion and speed.'

He added, 'I've learned to use my head as well as my arms and legs. I said some years ago 'enough tears and more work'. I've grown up.'

Teammate Schu Is Privilege, Not Problem: RB
Having Michael Schumacher as a teammate is a privilege, not a problem, according to the German's long-term F1 team-mate Rubens Barrichello.

The Brazilian, having signed a new two-year deal with Ferrari, looks set to pilot Michael Schumacher's sister scarlet car to the end of season 2006.

'To have Michael on the team is something to be proud of, and for me it's not a problem,' said the 31-year-old at an Italian press call in the Alps.

Rubens' predecessor Eddie Irvine once said that holding town the job as Schumacher's on-track lackey is the toughest position in all of pitlane.

But Barrichello insists that he 'never thought' about waiting until the German's contract ended before pushing for the number-one drive at Maranello.

Similarly, he also disputes his press-label as Ferrari's number-two.

'If I am to win, it has to be regardless of whether Michael is on the team,' said Rubens, who is the last of the Ferrari 'dream team' to get a new contract.

He concluded, 'When I saw the others like Michael, Ross and Jean renewing their contracts, I always said that I would be happy also to do so.'

Rubens Looks Beyond 2006
Rubens Barrichello is already looking beyond a newly-announced two-year extension to his Ferrari contract in Formula One.

The Brazilian insists that at the end of 2006, when he's thirty-four years old, 'I'm sure I'll still want to continue to race.'

He added, 'If I still have the determination and the calmness that I have found, then yeah, for sure. Why would I want to quit?'

Rubens thanked teams Jordan and Stewart for giving him his start in the sport but says after four years at the Prancing Horse he's finally 'grown up.'

Bahrain To Stage Exciting Races: Jordan
Eddie Jordan believes Formula One's newest racing destination, amid the desert sands in the south of Bahrain, is destined to stage exciting grands prix.

The F1 team principal, last weekend, met with the Crown Prince Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, toured the impressive circuit and inspected the pit complex.

'I am amazed at this place,' he said at the time.

Jordan reckons too many people involved in Formula One don't appreciate the effort and time that is put into building new race circuits.

EJ has also visited the new track being built for the Chinese GP in Shanghai.

'The unique aspects of this circuit are its strong links to Arabian culture and tradition, aspects exuded by the surroundings and buildings,' he added.

Bahrain will also pose a challenge for the drivers, Jordan insists.

He said the circuit in the desert to the south of Manama provides a number of quick corners and 'super-fast straights.'

'It also, importantly, is going to provide drivers with overtaking opportunities,' the flamboyant Irishman predicted.

India Races Towards Seven-Year F1 Deal
Plans for an Indian Grand Prix are progressing, according to F1 sources.

Reports are beginning to emerge that the series' supremo Bernie Ecclestone will meet officials for the touted project in Hyderabad on Thursday for more talks.

Speculation says a race on the sub-continent from 2007 is now likely.

A draft agreement is already in place and will be discussed at the meeting with Bernie before a formal announcement is expected in the following days.

Sources on the negotiating team told the local press that this round of talks could settle the 'entire issue' of the speculated Indian Grand Prix.

Media and television rights will take priority, one source asserted.

A 1,367-acre plot of land for the project at Gopanapally Village, on the outskirts of Hyderabad, has been selected for the seven-year project.

Parry-Jones Calls For Concorde Overhaul
Richard Parry-Jones, chief executive at Jaguar's F1 backer Ford, has called for an immediate review of the current Concorde Agreement.

The Briton, also a director of the GPWC 'alternate' series, reckons costs are escalating out of control in F1 and the current contract needs a re-vamp.

FIA president Max Mosley recently admitted he had given up the quest to cut costs in the series because he faced too much opposition from the top teams.

He added, 'We can have a bit of a go in World Rally, but we can't in F1 because of the Concorde Agreement.'

Parry-Jones' solution is to review Concorde, not set to be re-negotiated until the end of the 2007 season, and write in a way to bring costs under control.

Currently, any new regulation - particularly on the technical side - requires the unanimous agreement of the ten Formula One teams before ratification.

'One of the reasons we formed GPWC was to gain agreement about the right kinds of measures needed to control costs,' Richard told Motorsport News.

'We've got to have a collaborative effort.'

Parry-Jones has previously stated that the way to save the pinnacle of motor sport from its spiraling costs is through 'better distribution' of revenues.

Barrichello Does Not Have Ferrari Parity
Rubens Barrichello could have been Formula One's world champion of 2003, according to the Brazilian's former team boss and mentor, Sir Jackie Stewart.

Stewart, for whose team the 31-year-old drove until he switched to Ferrari in 2000, insists that the focus of Maranello's attention is on Michael Schumacher.

'I think Rubens would have been in exactly the same world championship position as his team-mate,' said Stewart, upon hearing of Rubens' new two-year deal.

Barrichello has insisted, from day one at Jean Todt's scarlet team, that he is a kind of 'number one-B' to six-times world champion Michael Schumacher.

Stewart doesn't agree.

'Irrespective of everybody wanting to give both cars equal attention,' said the triple world champion and Scot, 'the focus has been directed more to Michael.'

He added, 'Of that, there's no doubt.'

But Rubens, who praises JYS for getting him right in the 'mind management' department, might just be ready to take the fight to his German-born master.

Sir Jackie Stewart, also president of the BRDC, concluded: 'I really think Rubens is capable of doing the job that Michael is doing right now.'

Sauber Lauds 'Remarkable' C23 Roll-Out
Peter Sauber extolled a 'remarkable' roll-out of his Formula One's team's handsome new challenger at the Ricardo Tormo (Valencia) circuit on Wednesday.

New signing Giancarlo Fisichella, of Rome, completed 33 trouble-free laps in the pragmatic new design which takes several visible cues from the 2003-Ferrari.

'This many trouble-free laps in a half day of testing is a remarkable roll-out for us and just the right birthday present for Giancarlo,' said Sauber.

Pushed on a detailed assessment of the Ferrari-powered C23's merits, however, Sauber insisted that it's way 'too early' to say anything more.

'We won't know anything about the potential of the car until we can compare it to other teams,' the German-speaking Swiss continued.

Sauber, meanwhile - sixth in last year's constructors championship - will do precisely that at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya race-track from next week.

Technical director at Sauber, Willy Rampf, said the roll-out program involved tests of the C23 car's cooling, electronics, and fuel and hydraulic systems.

'The results are satisfying,' he said.

Rampf continued, 'Tomorrow we plan to run different setups and will use the day to familiarize ourselves with the performance characteristics of the new car.'

Fisichella's team-mate Felipe Massa takes over the driving on Friday.

Rubens: Montoya Faces Tough F1 Season
F1 driver Rubens Barrichello agrees with Ferrari's technical director that BMW-Williams ace Juan Pablo Montoya might endure a decidedly 'difficult' season.

The Colombian, Montoya, has already confirmed his switch to McLaren ahead of 2005 and that might be the source of friction, according to Ross Brawn.

Montoya thinks Brawn and Ferrari are simply winding him up.

Brawn's scarlet driver Barrichello, however, appeared to echo the sentiment when interviewed at the Madonna di Campiglio press call in Italy on Wednesday.

The Brazilian said if everything is hunky-dory, and Montoya is fighting for the world title, 'then he'll give his all because he wants to win.'

Rubens and 28-year-old Juan Pablo are often seen hanging-out in the paddock.

But if the Bogota-born 'bruiser' is having a tough season, and is half-way down the drivers' standings, he's going to have to dig deep, according to Rubens.

'He's going to need a very good head to be motivated to have the concentration and the focus to continue to try and win,' said Barrichello.

Rubens concluded, 'If he starts to think that next season is going to be different then it will be difficult, sure.'

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