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Ferrari aim to atone for Austrian jeers
May 14, 2003 16:47 IST
Ferrari and Michael Schumacher can set the record straight this weekend on their return to the Austrian Formula One track where they triggered worldwide outrage a year ago.
The 'team orders' that forced Brazilian Rubens Barrichello to move over and let world champion Schumacher win at Spielberg have been banned since the furore that changed the face of Formula One.
Barrichello, hoping for his first win of the season at a scenic track that has always suited him better than his illustrious team mate, says it is time to move on.
"With hindsight, it was a very controversial decision," the Brazilian said of the 'team orders' storm. "But now, a year later, I prefer to look only at the more positive aspects of that race.
"We all know what happened at the end and in a way, I think it had an impact on the whole history of Formula One," he told the Ferrari website.
"I think it strengthened my position and my partnership with Ferrari. It strengthened my and their belief that I can do the job and that I can win races.
"I do not look back on Austria as a negative thing."
If he gets the better of Schumacher again and Ferrari do not intervene by more subtle means, Barrichello could be celebrating on Sunday in what will be Austria's farewell before being struck off the calendar.
"This track suits me," said Barrichello, who has had to move over twice for Schumacher in Austria in two years. "I have been very close to winning this year and I hope the first victory comes soon."
Austria provided a turning point for the sport last year, prompting the governing International Automobile Federation to rewrite the rules following a global backlash against Ferrari's behaviour.
The chaotic podium ceremony, with Schumacher jeered and pushing Barrichello to the top to take the winner's trophy, also brought a $1.0 million fine for the drivers and Ferrari.
There will be no repeat of such scenes but Schumacher, winner of the last two races, is also looking for victory.
The five times champion is four points adrift of McLaren's young Finn Kimi Raikkonen after five rounds and can seize the lead in his 100th start alongside younger brother Ralf.
"Last year, the Austrian event was difficult for us, but it is not worth making any comparisons with today, as the current situation is very different," said Schumacher.
The circuit, with its uphill start and fast lines, should favour Ferrari's new F2003-GA car but McLaren and Williams expect to be strong also.
"It would be great to be competitive as racing at the A1-Ring is almost a home grand prix for me," said Williams driver Ralf, who lives in Austria. "Hopefully we'll be able to say goodbye with a positive finish."
McLaren's David Coulthard, fourth overall, has the best record of any driver in Austria with four second places and a win in six successive points finishes.