Rubens: French pace was true reflection

Rubens Barrichello has said his stunning run from eighth on the grid to third in last weekend's French Grand Prix was no fluke, and that a mistake with the set-up of his Ferrari's electronic differential hampered his cause in practice and qualifying

Rubens: French pace was true reflection

After his lowly qualifying position, the Brazilian switched to a three-stop strategy and surged through the pack as a result, taking full benefit of David Coulthard's stop-go penalty to nab the final place on the podium.

"On Friday and Saturday we worked in a direction which was not ideal," explained Barrichello. "This was specifically in the area of some of the electronic settings, especially those for the differential. I was trying to improve the car, starting from what I knew, but all the changes that I was asking for did not put us in the right direction. It took me a long time to figure out what was going on."

He continued: "Eventually the error was discovered in a technical de-brief with the engineers. After qualifying we sat down for a quiet moment and eventually we found out what the confusion was. After discovering that, it was a straightforward job to get it right and for the Sunday morning warm-up the car was completely different.

"To people who are not involved at first hand with a team, it might seem strange that such a basic misunderstanding can occur, but it is a very complex area of the car. I was trying to simplify the way I was working rather than go into the complexity of the issue. Basically the car was changing from oversteer to understeer and, in qualifying, it was undriveable. I was driving like a madman, but I could only do a lap time which I easily repeated in the warm-up without really pushing hard at all," he added.

These problems meant Barrichello had it all to do on race day, but with the car back on song, he enjoyed his fight back through the field.

"Everything went much better and I set the second fastest race lap and I was very fast," he said. "It was a very competitive Grand Prix and I was on the absolute limit of the car all the time. My only problem came with my last set of tyres, which gave me a severe problem under braking for the hairpin. But it was a fantastic race because I had to attack and I also had to defend [from Coulthard]. It was good fun!

"At the end of the day, starting from eighth on the grid, you do not have very high hopes. All I could do was try my best and I was very happy to finish third."

Barrichello, currently enjoying a holiday in Brazil with his family, is predicting a three-way battle for Grand Prix wins between Ferrari, McLaren and Williams for the rest of the season.

"From now on the season will get even tougher, because Williams is getting stronger and McLaren are sure to sort out their problems soon," he said. "Ferrari is doing a very good job and we are also upping our game. Michelin has produced some good tyres, but Bridgestone is also pushing and the tyres they brought to Magny Cours were fantastic. They are working in the right direction and I think we are going to do very well in the final part of the championship."

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