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Alan Baldwin |
March 18, 2004 16:57 IST
Rubens Barrichello says his chances of winning the Formula One title have never been better despite starting another season in Michael Schumacher's slipstream.
"I'm a believer who believes a dream can become reality," the Ferrari driver told a news conference on Thursday before Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix, the second round of the championship.
"They are the highest they have been in my whole career," said the Brazilian when asked about his chances.
"I know it's a difficult task because of having a very quick and reliable team mate but I think I am capable as well. I just have to put words into results."
Schumacher made a perfect start to his bid for an unprecedented seventh title by dominating the season-opening race in Melbourne, with Barrichello following him around for lap after lap in a Ferrari one-two.
The German started on pole, clocked the fastest lap and led all the way to the chequered flag.
Ferrari's rivals hope that the Malaysian heat will favour them and their tyres but Sepang could instead confirm their worst fears with another runaway win for the champions.
Barrichello said however that a return to the dominance of 2002, when he and Schumacher won all but two of the races, was unlikely.
"I don't see a 2002 championship," he said. "There is more competition around...I hope we do win here but I don't think if we win here that is it."
If the championship were to come down to a duel between the Ferrari team mates, then Barrichello hoped he would be allowed a genuine shot at it.
"I have to believe in myself, I have to believe that I am better than Michael for me to be able to win races," said the Brazilian.
"To get to a situation that we haven't seen before, maybe two races from the end of the championship and we have equal points, then you have to take your own decision on that.
"I don't have a problem with Michael and I don't have a problem with the team...obviously it's been Michael's championship for all of the last four years but I'm here to change that."
Barrichello said he was now far more experienced, and probably quicker too, than when he joined Ferrari and he was committed to the team for the next three years after rejecting an approach from Williams.
Schumacher agreed that his team mate was giving him a tougher time.
"I think he is doing a fantastic job, no doubt. If you look over the years, he has improved consistently. If he can put on another step or not is something to find out. I hope not because then I am in trouble," he said.
"It's a long season. The first round was to my advantage and we have to see what happens in the next races. I think he will be very tough competition for me this year."