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Schumacher backs Barrichello
Alan Baldwin | June 13, 2003 18:47 IST
World champion Michael Schumacher will be happy for Formula One team mate Rubens Barrichello to stay with him at Ferrari beyond the Brazilian's current contract.
"No doubt, yes. We have had a good time together, we have had a successful time together," said the German, who has agreed to continue with the Italian team to the end of 2006.
Barrichello, who has been Schumacher's partner since 2000, has a contract to the end of 2004 and was not mentioned when Ferrari announced this week that their five times world champion is staying along with key technical staff.
"In the past it has always been that the team has not announced things at the same time, not signed contracts at the same time," Schumacher told reporters before Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix.
"If Rubens obviously is as quick as he is right now, and as he has been, then I don't see any reason why that (contract) shouldn't continue."
Barrichello won four races last year and he made clear that he wanted to stay with the winning team that he joined after stints with Jordan and Stewart.
"What is it that gives me the chance to win?" he asked. "Ferrari gives me more of a chance than any other team. I had seven years of driving little cars."
Barrichello said there was plenty of time for him to negotiate an extension.
"My role has not changed," he said.
"I don't get the impression that my contract will now end in 2003. We still have a year and a half to think it over so softly, softly."
Barrichello has been a loyal and patient partner to Schumacher, doubtless sustained by the thought that one day the German could quit and leave the road open to him.
That may not now happen but the Brazilian refused to be downcast at the prospect.
"I never actually said it myself. I've been asked many times what would happen if Michael wasn't there but I never thought of Ferrari without Michael," he said.
"I'm not really concerned. I don't have to do things around Michael. I have my own life. I'm happy that he's getting older but getting no slower. I've always said that I'm proud to be driving alongside him."
Todt said Ferrari would decide when the time came on Barrichello's future but hinted that the partnership would be allowed to put on more mileage together.
"Let's put it this way, we don't like to change," he told reporters. "I think we have proved that.
"When the time comes, we will decide. We'll speak with him (Barrichello) and see how things are going. We need a clear picture of the whole situation but we don't like to change."