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Q & A with Rubens Barrichello

Rubens Barrichello gave Williams its first strong showing of the year in Australia, qualifying eighth and finishing in the same position.

Ahead of this weekend's race at Sepang, AUTOSPORT heard his thoughts on Williams' prospects and the season ahead.

Rubens BarrichelloQ. You seemed to get a little bit more out of the car in Melbourne than in Bahrain. Is there still more to come in terms of the best set-up?

Rubens Barrichello: I don't think it's set-up. I think Bahrain was fairly difficult with the heat, we were not fully prepared for the occasion. The car was running too hot and I don't think we used the maximum. Melbourne was a lot easier for us and we were able to work on the car and get the best out of it. So the question is if we have done our homework well to see if we can keep the performance of Melbourne here.

Q. Do you think Mercedes is catchable?

RB: I think it's too early to say. I just have a fixed idea that Red Bull is ahead of Ferrari, and that's it. It's too early to make conclusions. In the press it was said that Sauber was the car to beat in early testing. People make predictions too fast. We just need to improve ourselves to get where we belong.

Q. This track, with long straights and heavy braking, is that going to suit the Williams?

RB: We have good speed, we're still not good on the acceleration side, fully with driveability and some other stuff we need to sort out. For me, more than anything, it's going to be a test to see if the Williams is suitable for the heat - that's the most important thing.

Q. How serious is the problem of the heat and humidity in Malaysia?

RB: I think it's serious. It's one of the toughest times. But being a Brazilian I'm lucky that I have that at home as well, so I feel good.

Q. You've had two races weekends now, as well as all the testing. In that time, what have you made of this team? Is it what you expected?

RB: It's a good team, it's a team of fighters, a team of people that give everything to the car and to the way they do things. The philosophy is great and I'm pretty much in love with everything they do.

We're not fast enough. You get to know people at difficult times and this is a difficult time. We are working quite well together but we just need to improve certain areas. They are putting a lot of effort into listening to me, with my experience, so there is a light in the tunnel - we just have to see when it comes to us.

Q. There's a big difference between qualifying trim on low fuel and race trim on high. Which is the Williams better at and which do you need to work more on?

RB: I still think we're not capable of saying where the car is at its best. I like it in qualifying because it has low fuel and I put it on eighth position. I don't know if it was capable of getting that far. But in the same way, in the race it was disappointing that we finished eighth. But I couldn't just say that the car is better here or there.

I think Formula 1 is going to be like that for the whole season. In different tracks you're going to see someone going faster in qualifying or the race.

Q. There were a lot of incidents of traffic in Melbourne in practice and qualifying. Is this just something to get used to with so many cars, or should the mirrors be replaced?

RB: Everyone is having problems with the mirrors. Hopefully we are going to get that changed quite soon, back to the normal mirrors. Having said that, we need to see what we do for Monaco, because there it will be hell.

Q. Is the mirror change something for FOTA, or is it GPDA?

RB: It's an FIA thing. As far as I'm concerned it's agreed that we should have better visibility, so the change could come as early as the next race.

Q. Do you expect the pecking order to change this year when we get back to Europe, or do you think the current order will stick?

RB: I think last year Red Bull was better at solving its problems. Brawn didn't have a lot of problems to begin with, but the evolution of the car was pretty limited in what they could have done. It depends, if I have problem A and I can fix it, I will get better. If someone else can't fix their problem B, they won't get as good. So it depends on the set-ups of the weekends and so on, I don't think there's a pattern you can rely on to say someone will do this or that. It's just the evolution of the teams during the season.

Q. At Williams, will there be upgrades for Europe to get you closer to the top four teams?

RB: There are lots of things on plan, on paper, going through the tunnel and things. Now we sort of understand the problems the car is giving, so if we get it fixed for sure you are going to see the Williams stronger in Europe.

Q. Are we in a period now where ingenuity requires the most money?

RB: We always under-estimate how clever the engineers are - they always beat money. The fact that a team had more money meant they could throw things they had no idea about at the car, sometimes - maybe one out of 10 they would get something. But the best idea is always the one that will make the car faster and that always comes from brains, not money.

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Barrichello: Heat will challenge Williams