Ferrari extend Barrichello's contract

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Ferrari announces the extension of Rubens Barrichello's contract by an extra two years.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:05 IST
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Madonna di Campiglio, Italy:

Ferrari have announced the extension of Rubens Barrichello's contract by an extra two years. The 31-year-old Brazilian is now tied to the Formula One Constructors' champions until the end of 2006. The deal ends speculation linking him with a move to Williams in 2005, when his fellow South American Juan Pablo Montoya will switch to McLaren. Rubens Barrichello arrived in style for a Ferrari drivers meeting in the Italian ski resort of Madonna di Campiglio on Wednesday. It was all smiles from the Brazilian - and that was unsurprising, given that the Italian manufacturer had just announced that he had signed a two-year extension to his current deal with the team, taking him through to the end of 2006. Barrichello joined Ferrari in 2000 after seven seasons in F1 with Jordan and then Stewart-Ford. Since then he has often been forced to play second fiddle to teammate Michael Schumacher on the track, most notably in Austria in 2002 when he was ordered to move over when within sight of the chequered flag. It has not stopped the popular driver racking up seven wins while helping Ferrari to four successive constructors' titles. The deal ends speculation linking the 31-year-old with a move to Williams in 2005 as replacement for fellow South American, Juan Pablo Montoya, who is switching to McLaren. Apparently, though, the deal was all but secured late last year, after Ferrari had agreed the two-year extension Barrichello had hoped for. "Yes, this is true. We have only signed the real contract yesterday, but the intention and all the papers have been going through, faxes on and off all the time. So we basically knew just before Christmas that that was what we wanted, and I've always been very proud of the situation, because it's not just something like 'Rubens is believing in the work of Ferrari'. It is that 'Ferrari is believing in the work of Rubens'. We never talked about one year - we have always talked about two years more. So this gives me a great pleasure, and it was always my first option," Barrichello said. And Barrichello continues to enjoy partnering Michael Schumacher, despite so often having to operate in the shadow of the six-times world champion. "I've always said I've been very proud of having Michael (Schumacher) as a teammate. I've always been compared to the best, and we have a great relationship together. We work well for the team, and to the team, which means we can have good years ahead," Barrichello said. Ferrari will unveil their latest car at Maranello later this month, but Barrichello remained coy when asked what he expected of the new model. "Well, it's a tough question. The car is beautiful, as always, but we have to wait and see. I mean, just in the next couple of weeks we are going to have the new car presented, and we're going to start testing. The plans are, first to take the car to the new season, to Melbourne, and if all goes well I hope the car is competitive in our first (race) to really do it," Barrichello said. So, can he finally deliver that first world title this season after ten years in Formula One? "Who knows? But if I keep on fighting....I have the number two on the car, and I have to work hard to have the number one next year. I'll keep on!" Later on, Barrichello led a Ferrari entourage up the slopes with snowboards in hand. On this evidence, however, the Brazilian - clearly a novice boarder - should stick to transport of the four-wheeled variety. And, whilst Barrichello was having fun, his teammate flew in to join the meeting. This season Schumacher will be aiming for a fifth-successive drivers' title - and an unprecedented seventh in total. (AP)

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