Todt: Barrichello's Future Still to be Decided

Ferrari team principal Jean Todt suggested on Thursday that he would like to hold onto the team's Brazilian driver Rubens Barrichello in the future despite leaving him off the team's recently announced long-term plans.

Todt: Barrichello's Future Still to be Decided

Ferrari team principal Jean Todt suggested on Thursday that he would like to hold onto the team's Brazilian driver Rubens Barrichello in the future despite leaving him off the team's recently announced long-term plans.

Barrichello, who currently has a contract with the Italian giants until the end of 2004, was the only main member of the team missed off the list when Ferrari signed up their current superstars until the end of 2006.

But Todt insisted that Barrichello could still be part of the team and said: "Let's put it this way, we don't like to change. I think we have proved that. Saying that, when the time comes, we will decide.

"We'll speak with him and see how things are going. We need a clear picture of the whole situation but we don't like to change. It's a game - I don't love it - but you have to accept it as a part of the sport.

"I hope he doesn't read too much into what's been said. The big question mark is over Rubens - but it's the same as renewing the contract with Michael until the end of 2004.

"Rubens' renewal was only announced months later - one year ago - for 2003/04. That's nothing new. There is speculation and I respect that. Once things will be settled about the whole team after 2004, you have to answer other speculations."

Todt joined Ferrari in 1993, with Schumacher and chief designer Rory Byrne arriving at the start of 1996 and technical director Ross Brawn at the end of that year.

Barrichello, 31, was only added to the line-up in 2000 and the team has slowly built up into the dominant force that re-wrote the record books last year.

He has continually played second fiddle to World Champion Schumacher and has won five races since he joined the team, four of them coming in his best season to date last year.

But Ferrari are grooming for the future and young Brazilian Felipe Massa, 22, has been tipped to take over from Barrichello when his elder countryman's contract ends in 2004.

Todt, however, refused to be drawn on plans to introduce Massa, who is currently the team's second test driver alongside Italian Luca Badoer, in the future.

"It's too early to say," said Todt. "I think Felipe is a very young driver, he has good potential but in all fairness, I am unable to tell you he has great potential or just good potential.

"We need to give him one opportunity to do as much testing as he can. I hope he will be able to drive for a Formula One team next year, but at the moment I am unable to tell you whether he has a great future or not.

"He's young, he's good, he's talented, he's motivated. He has to learn a lot and we're trying to help him learn as much as he can - as a driver, on a physical fitness level, his approach, his way of communicating.

"But I don't know if he's a man of the future."

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