- Auto Racing - Teammate says champ's demeanor has changed

Wednesday, January 31
Teammate says champ's demeanor has changed

MARANELLO -- Michael Schumacher has become more relaxed since he won the Formula One title, Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello said on Monday.

The Brazilian said Schumacher, Ferrari's first drivers' champion for 21 years, was lucky at times last year but deserved the third title of his career and would be a favorite again when the season starts in March.

"He is more relaxed but I am not sure if he thinks it will now be easier or more difficult," said Barrichello.

"He is more relaxed for sure -- after five years he got what he wanted."

Barrichello, who took the first victory of his career last season at Hockenheim, said Schumacher "has been fantastic but he has been very lucky never to have had any problems in qualifying."

Speaking to reporters after the unveiling of Ferrari's new F2001 car, he later conceded that Schumacher had faced difficulties in qualifying at Monte Carlo.

The Brazilian said, as he had earlier this month, that he would not be setting himself targets in 2001 nor would he allow himself to be as preoccupied with beating his German team mate as he was in his first year at Ferrari.

"Last year I started tense, I was trying to do something other than my job, comparing myself to Michael and trying to beat Michael and it didn't work," he said.

"After Monte Carlo I relaxed a bit more. But it was a good year, a good experience with a really good car."

"I learned a lot from Hockenheim. I learned not to create expectations," said Barrichello, a surprise winner in Germany after starting the race from way down the grid.

"I thought I needed to get pole but I started 18th without any expectations for Sunday and I had completely different race. I gave my best, had no expectations and was able to win.

"What I learned is not to create things in my head and just to give my best. I have learned that if I want to be a champion I have to change."

Barrichello said 2000 had been a tough year for him and it had been difficult to adjust to the switch to the Italian based team after years in England with Jordan and then Stewart.

"The pressure was not only on Michael and the team -- I had to be there to get both championships," he said.

"Last year I drove 25,000 kilometers. Including all the testing with Jordan and Stewart, in seven years I didn't drive that much.

"We are testing all the time for Formula One and there is more pressure. There is pressure from the Italian press and the Brazilian press now."