Brawn: Ferrari Let Down Barrichello
Wednesday May 31st, 2000
Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn admitted on Wednesday that the team had messed up Rubens Barrichello's last race but said their Formula One championship hopes looked better than ever.
Speaking on the eve of opening practice for Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix, Brawn rejected suggestions that Ferrari had deliberately tried to spoil world champion Mika Hakkinen's tactics at the European Grand Prix two weeks ago.
"In fact, we just screwed up the race for Rubens by keeping him out on dry tyres for too long," he said. "There was no attempt at all to spoil Mika's race."
Barrichello, who fought back to fourth place at the Nuerburgring, was left battling down the field for much of the race and some had suggested the tactic was deliberate to hold up Hakkinen's McLaren when the Finn tried to lap him.
Brawn said Ferrari's development programme and the use of their own test track was paying dividends and the team looked "in the best shape we have been in in my time at Ferrari."
"So, it is fair to say I am feeling quietly confident without getting complacent I think," said the Briton, mastermind of the F1-2000 car which has set the pace this season.
He said one of the team's strengths in recent years had been their pace of development.
"Last year, everyone in the team worked very hard and we showed we could develop the car quickly from race to race when required. I think it has been a great part of our overall team performance.
"Having our own test circuit at Fiorano has also been an important factor for us.
Brawn said he was delighted at the form of the team and in particular the drivers -- Brazilian Barrichello in his first season and double world champion German Michael Schumacher.
"Rubens has settled in very well and Michael is driving as well as ever," he said.
Brawn expected the team would travel back to their Maranello headquarters on Friday, Monaco's traditional rest day, to shake down their fourth car in readiness for the weekend.