Michael Schumacher has responded to suggestions made by former Formula 1 team-mate Rubens Barrichello that a lot more went on at Ferrari during their time together than met the eye by insisting that the Brazilian simply wasn't quick enough to be number one.
Last week Barrichello hinted that 'the public does not know even half of the story about what I experienced with Ferrari', adding that 'perhaps they will be able to read the truth one day in a book' [see separate story – click here
Schumacher and Barrichello partnered each other at the Scuderia
from 2000 to 2005 – in so doing becoming one of the sport's longest-running team-mate pairings – but the duo's relationship was never quite the same again after Barrichello was told to cede victory to Schumacher in the infamous 2002 Austrian Grand Prix, and very publicly revealed his distaste for the scenario by pulling over practically on the finish line to let the sister scarlet machine past to 'win'.
The uncomfortable scenes up on the podium afterwards – when Schumacher attempted to push Barrichello onto the top step following a chorus of boos from the crowds – led to team orders being banned in F1.
Though Barrichello was cast very much into a supporting role at Maranello during his six-year stint there before moving to Honda – winning just nine races as the man from Kerpen triumphed in no fewer than 49 and lifted five drivers' world crowns – Schumacher is adamant the São Paulista was only number two because he was not as quick.
“Nobody can make you slower because of a contract,” the 39-year-old told the Cologne-based newspaper Express
. “If you are fast, you are fast, and then you are the number one.”
Johnny Herbert claimed that in the wake of him qualifying right behind then Benetton team-mate Schumacher in fourth spot for the 1995 season-opening Brazilian Grand Prix, he was no longer permitted access to the German's data.