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Barrichello fires up the fans
Alan Baldwin | October 23, 2004 13:26 IST
Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello fired up his passionate home crowd on Friday with the fastest lap in practice for Sunday's season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix.
Barrichello, seeking to end an appalling streak of nine retirements in a row at his home track, roared round the undulating anti-clockwise Interlagos circuit in one minute 11.166 seconds.
"Listening to the reaction of the crowd brought a smile to my face," said the Brazilian, back in his home town after winning two races this season.
"Now we just have to keep our cool and try and improve the car even more and I am sure we will be competitive for the rest of the weekend."
Team mate Michael Schumacher, who clinched his seventh championship in August and has won 13 of the 17 races, was 0.168 of a second slower as Ferrari reasserted their dominance after a gentle start to the day.
Both times, set in the afternoon, were well inside Barrichello's 2003 pole of 1:13.807 and Schumacher's race lap record of 1:14.755 from 2000. The track has been resurfaced since last year's race in April.
"I am not sure where we are in terms of consistency of performance, but over a single lap we look very strong," commented the German.
"The track is very bumpy, which adds to the difficulty, but all in all we are looking good and should be in the fight for the win," added Schumacher. "Being first and second is a wonderful start to the weekend."
Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, in his last race for Williams before he moves to McLaren, led the way in the morning on a dirty track with a time of 1:12.547 ahead of team mate Ralf Schumacher in third.
The Brazilian Grand Prix is the only South American round of the championship and the closest Montoya gets to a home appearance. Williams have yet to win this year.
Finland's Kimi Raikkonen was third fastest overall on the day, ahead of BAR's Briton Jenson Button while the Williams drivers faded in the afternoon.
"The track seems to be massively bumpy," said Ralf. "It is therefore not easy to find the right setup nor will it be easy to make the right tyre choice."
Raikkonen and team mate David Coulthard, winner in Brazil in 2001 but without a drive for next year, had also looked quick in the morning. The Finn spun at the start of the second session.
"There is no doubt that Ferrari will be strong here but I believe we will be able to battle with them," said Raikkonen.
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