Grapevine: Piquet: Barrichello to BAR

Former World Champion Nelson Piquet has re-ignited speculation about Rubens Barrichello's future after claiming that his fellow Brazilian will definitely quit Ferrari for BAR next season

Grapevine: Piquet: Barrichello to BAR

Piquet has been widely attributed in the Brazilian media to have claimed that he understands Barrichello has been granted a release from his Ferrari contract and has subsequently signed for BAR.

Although Barrichello still has a year to run on his contract with Ferrari, he has been at the centre of rumours that he may leave early for much of this season. In public he has continually insisted he will see out the contract, but it is understood that behind-the-scenes the matter is far from settled.

A move to BAR makes sense for both team and driver. Barrichello will be able to escape from the shadow of Michael Schumacher, while BAR will be able to get hold of the kind of driver they need to help them win their first race.

BAR are known to want to ramp up their driver line-up for next season and, with no guarantees that they will get an early answer on whether they can count on Jenson Button's services for 2006, an early swoop for a high-profile driver like Barrichello is a must.

Should Barrichello leave Ferrari, it would appear to leave the way open for Felipe Massa to make the switch to the Maranello team from Sauber. Massa is known to be a favourite of Ferrari sporting director Jean Todt and has long been linked with an eventual move to the team.

However, one wild theory that will not go away is for Massa's Ferrari switch to be put on hold for another season and for David Coulthard to be slotted in alongside Michael Schumacher for 2006.

Although that story was dismissed as 'complete rubbish' by Red Bull Racing chiefs in Hockenheim, speculation in the Hungaroring suggests that Dietrich Mateschitz has actually held talks with senior Ferrari management about the situation.

It is suggested that Ferrari sponsor Vodafone is keen for the move, even though Todt is believed to favour having Massa.

The Ferrari-BAR situation has implications for a lot of drivers. Takuma Sato could find himself out of a drive at BAR if Barrichello arrives at the outfit and they also manage to keep hold of Button, while Nick Heidfeld hopes at either Williams or BAR very much depend on how the Button situation develops.

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