Rubens Barrichello has stepped up his series of revelations about 'life at Ferrari' by claiming that he was warned to 'think about [his] contract' during the controversial 2002 Austrian Grand Prix.
That race – only the sixth outing of the 17-race campaign – was the catalyst for team orders being banned in Formula 1, after Ferrari instructed Barrichello to move over for Schumacher in the closing stages. As a token of his distaste for the scenario, the Brazilian pulled over practically on the finish line to let the sister scarlet machine past to 'win'.
That led to distinctly uncomfortable scenes up on the podium afterwards, with a clearly embarrassed Schumacher attempting to push his team-mate onto the top step following a chorus of boos from the crowds.
Still without a seat in the top flight in 2009 – what looks set to bring down the curtain on a career of record length that has yielded nine victories, all for the Scuderia
, 13 pole positions, 16 fastest laps, 62 rostrums and two runner-up finishes in the F1 World Championship – Barrichello has recently threatened to one day reveal 'the truth' of what went on behind closed doors during his six season spent at Maranello from 2000 to 2005 [see separate story – click here
The 36-year-old was asked on Brazilian TV programme Fantastico
about the infamous race around the A1-Ring, and responded that – having led from pole position all the way – he was engaged in a fraught conversation with his team over the car-to-pits radio during the final eight laps that eventually culminated in an unequivocal ultimatum.
“Do you know that Michael is behind you?” Barrichello said the team had asked him. “It's important for the championship.
“The intensity of the conversation increased with every lap – and then I was told to think about my contract. For me it was clear – take your foot off the gas or you will be going home.”
Though Schumacher has dismissed any such suggestions [see separate story – click here
], Barrichello stated that he had subsequently asked the German if he had played any part in the order.
“He said he had nothing to do with it,” the São Paulista affirmed, “but I have the documents at home to prove that he was aware of everything that took place.”