Tuesday April 10th, 2001
Brazilian driver Rubens Barrichello believes he is a better driver this season thanks to his improved "mind management", but admits his speed also comes from the fact that he works better with the Ferrari team.
Barrichello joined the Italian outfit last season after leaving the Stewart team, finishing in fourth position in the championship and scoring his first Grand Prix win in Germany.
Despite having finished two of the first three races on the podium this season, Barrichello lies third in the championship, sixteen points adrift of his teammate Michael Schumacher. However, his performances during qualifying have shown the Brazilian is closer to the German.
Barrichello believes his improved speed is the result of improvements in other areas.
"When a driver improves from one year to the next, it does not necessarily mean he gets faster," said Barrichello. "Speed comes naturally and you just have to improve in other areas.
"Mind management is where I have improved this year. On top of that, in my second year with Ferrari I have learned how to work better with my engineer and mechanics. That makes a difference.
"Not only is the car better, but this year there is some of my input in the car. The team has built a car that is not just for Michael, but for me as well. That helps and I am feeling very strong and calm."
Barrichello had a difficult time at his home Grand Prix ten days ago, crashing into Ralf Schumacher's Williams on the second lap, and endured a torrid weekend in front of his crowd.
Despite racing for Ferrari in Italy this weekend at the San Marino Grand Prix, he admits he felt more pressure in Brazil.
"I would say racing in Italy has a lot of pressure, but not as much as in your home country," admitted Barrichello. "I have mixed emotions about Imola. It is a place that I go to as a professional and enjoy the race track, but it also has some bad memories from the past.
"Now, I try and enjoy it as much as I can. I have turned the page on the past. I've been on the podium already there. In last year's race, I had a good chance, but I had a problem with the lower part of the seat belts coming undone and hurting my legs.
"This time, I go to Imola with a low profile and high expectations."