Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello.
Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello.

Former teammate spills on Schumacher

MICHAEL Schumacher will long be remembered as one of the greatest drivers in Formula 1 history, but a former teammate has lifted the lid on what it's like being alongside him.

Schumacher dominated the F1 circuit and ended his stellar career with an incredible seven championships to his name.

Rubens Barrichello, who played second fiddle to the legend for six seasons in the famous red Scuderia Ferrari, has  broken down his time with Schumacher.

Drivers, whether they chose to accept it or not, know there's a hierarchy within teams - and Barrichello eventually understood his place in Ferrari's pecking order.

Despite being on the same team, the competitive nature means some drivers aren't exactly open with the men sharing their garage, and Barrichello says Schumacher wasn't an open and supportive teammate.

"I've always made friends and had a great relationship between my teammates," he said  on F1's Beyond the Grid podcast.

"I do (include Michael), but he was never supportive … it's not the right word. He would never be there to offer help so I never asked because there are teammates to go and ask.

Barrichello and Schumacher shared plenty of podiums in their time together.
Barrichello and Schumacher shared plenty of podiums in their time together.

"For example Eddie Irvine, you ask him and he says 'I don't know which gear I take that corner'. I got pissed one day because I couldn't understand how the hell he doesn't know what gear and he doesn't really know, he just doesn't think, he did it naturally.

"So you have to learn people with Michael it was different, he was a bit naive in a way that he worked his way.

"So many times I grabbed my chair because the meeting was already finished and then they started another meeting with just Michael there and I said hmm this is funny.

"I took my chair and I just would sit there, say nothing and just stay there."

The duo in a pre-race press conference.
The duo in a pre-race press conference.

Barrichello says figuring out the team belonged to Schumacher didn't hamper his own drive and ambitions towards the championships.

"Eventually I felt that (it was Schumacher's team), eventually I felt that the team was his," he said.

"It never dropped my emotions, seeing as I had to overcome my emotions to get better and to race against the best it wasn't that 'oh OK this engine was for him and this engine is for Rubens'.

"I think they'd done such a good job on the year 2000 already that the engines had the same amount of power, but one is special and would have a choice to go to Michael, but I think at the end of the day it was not a problem for me to race the same car as him."

Schumacher on the top step with Barrichello finishing on the podium alongside him.
Schumacher on the top step with Barrichello finishing on the podium alongside him.

When you're sat alongside a force as dominant as Schumacher you get an up close look at what makes a champion tick, and Barrichello says it was his courage at high speeds that set him apart from the rest.

For the Brazilian his strength had to lie in the mental game as he went into most races knowing he'd be playing second fiddle in the team.

"He was super, super on high speed, like very courageous. The way I drove on the low speed was actually I was taking more speed out of it than him," he said.

"I remember so many times Ross (Brawn) telling him that he had too do something different. I became so much better on the high speed because of him.

"I think we both went too another level of pushing each other, so it was good.

"It's not that easy to make Michael Schumacher go to another level.

"Mine had to be mental. How do you go to a racetrack knowing that you have a B option of a pit stop and this and that and still be ready to win."

Barrichello doesn't lament on the fact he never secured a drivers' championship, but believes if the team had of made things equal in his time behind the wheel he would have walked away with at least one.

"If you put myself against Michael I think it was a 70-30 split. Let's put it this way, he was better than me.

"He was more complete and Michael didn't have bad days. Whenever he had a bad day or he was vulnerable the team around him prepared him to be back up. They knew how to affect him positively.

"But if it was run straight, just the same strategy for everyone I might have won at least one championship … at least one.

"It doesn't make a difference now, it's part of the past. I didn't and I'm happy with that because I tried."

News Corp Australia

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