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Barrichello can shine in Britain
Alan Baldwin | July 07, 2004 21:14 IST
Michael Schumacher can celebrate his 80th victory on Sunday but Ferrari team mate Rubens Barrichello could be a better bet in Sunday's British Grand Prix.
The long-suffering Brazilian, as much as BAR's home favourite Jenson Button or a resurgent McLaren, looks well equipped to threaten the world champion's bid for a 10th win in 11 races.
The story so far has been one of near-total domination by Schumacher while faithful sidekick Barrichello, six times anchoring a Ferrari one-two, is always the bridesmaid and never the bride.
But Barrichello won from pole position at Silverstone last year, in a race interrupted by a kilted interloper running onto the track, after setting the lap record.
If he is going to beat the Red Baron, and is given free rein to do so by his team, then the former World War Two airfield looks as good a place as any.
"It's one of the finest tracks in the world," he said this week. "Beckett's corner, for me, is one of the most challenging. You really have to be precise and put in a lot of effort.
"Of course there's a problem with the traffic and the weather but that's a part of the British story...I really love Silverstone."
The same could not be said of Schumacher, who loves beating the British-based teams in their backyard but still has painful memories of the worst accident of his career when he broke his leg at the circuit in 1999.
He pulled out all the stops to win last weekend's highly-strategic French Grand Prix but Ferrari were pushed hard by Renault as well as Button's BAR.
"It's not a surprise to us that the opposition is getting closer and there are circuits where we were expecting certain teams to be strong," said Schumacher at Magny-Cours.
"I think Silverstone is going to be another tough one for us from what we have seen in testing."
Local hopes will focus on Button and McLaren's David Coulthard, a former winner for McLaren, although no team can claim it as more of a home race than Jordan with their factory opposite the front entrance.
Button is confident, hoping for that first win to materialise after six podiums.
"We targeted our first win for around this point in the season and it goes without saying that it would be fantastic to achieve that this weekend," he said.
"This race is special for so many reasons. I love racing here and will never forget my debut F1 race here four years ago when I passed Michael Schumacher on the first lap.
"He might have been on a different fuel load but that was a fantastic moment nonetheless."
Coulthard, struggling with an unreliable car for much of the season, has his confidence back after the heavily-revised MP4-19B was rolled out at Magny-Cours and McLaren should be competitive again.
Whether the same can be said for Williams, celebrating the 25th anniversary of their first win at the circuit, remains to be seen after three highly disappointing races.
Spaniard Marc Gene again fills in for injured Ralf Schumacher while Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya leads the challenge for a team now looking for two drivers for 2005 after Ralf's move to Toyota was confirmed.
"We haven't managed to collect many points in the last few races so we really must get it right at Silverstone," said Montoya.
Formula One: The Complete Coverage