Barrichello hits back at replacement rumours

Ferrari number two Rubens Barrichello says he is unconcerned by talk surrounding his future with the Italian team amid speculation that the Brazilian could lose his seat alongside Michael Schumacher at the end of the year

Barrichello hits back at replacement rumours

Barrichello has had an eventful start to the 2001 season - he's hit Ralf Schumacher in consecutive races in Malaysia and Brazil, but at the same time three podium finishes from five races does not seem to have been enough to halt the rumour mill.

Within the last week Formula 1 hotshoe Kimi Raikkonen and Briton Jenson Button have both been linked with drives at the Maranello-based team, but Barrichello would rather keep his head down and stay focused on the job in hand.

"I have nothing to say about my future," said Barrichello. "I am concentrating totally on the work I am doing with the team. When it will be the right moment, I will think about my future."

Barrichello's contract runs out at the end of this year and he is known to want to stay on with the current world championship team. Any change in the team's driver line-up will centre on whether Schumacher, who is contracted until the end of next year, decides to stay on.

"I'm a happy person at Ferrari," Barrichello said before the start of the season, "and my contract has an option for 2002. I feel like Michael is the present and I am the future."

Barrichello is back to work this week testing at Fiorano and set a new lap record for the team's private test track on Wednesday. He currently lies third in the drivers' standings and was set to add to his run of podium finishes in the Spanish Grand Prix but was forced to retire with suspension failure.

Schumcaher was also forced to slow during Sunday's race due to a vibration on his F-2001, but Barrichello was quick to leap to the defence of the car's reliability.

"I can't say that everything always works 100 per cent," said Barrichello, "but as for the cause of my retirement in Barcelona, I can say that it was due to a failure we had never seen before. There is no specific problem with the suspension."

The team has until August 31 this year to decide whether it will keep Barrichello on for 2002.

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