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‘I’m not as nice as you might think’

Madonna di Campiglio: The days when Ferrari’s number two driver could never win are over, Rubens Barrichello said on Wednesday.

Brazilian driver Barrichello has been in the shadow of world champion Michael Schumacher since joining the Italian team in 2000 but last season won four races ahead of his normally dominant German teammate and believes he can now challenge for the world title.

“I have changed the idea that Ferrari’s second driver could never win and I am happy — that was my real fight,” Barrichello told a press conference at the Dolomite ski resort.

The Brazilian said he had found it tough when he first joined Ferrari but believes he has answered those who believed he would never be able to flourish alongside Schumacher.

“It was difficult for me and I was under pressure. I was told I would never win with Michael, that (Ferrari team chief Jean) Todt was very linked to Michael but that has passed, I have overcome it and I have found a very friendly environment,” said Barrichello.

The Brazilian said he believed he had a chance of winning next season but was well aware of the strength of Schumacher. “In life you have got to have dreams and have targets. I truly believe that we are all human beings who can win sometimes and lose sometimes.

“Michael is a fantastic driver and doing a great job with the team but you know everyone has the chance to get better... I see my chances of winning as realistic,” said Barrichello.

“If you ask me what are the targets, do you want to win the championship in 2003' It is always the target, it was last year and all the other years... it is another season, everything starts again. I feel proud to be part of the team, together with Michael, I think we will do a good job together and hopefully one of us is going to win again,” said the Brazilian.

Although a popular figure in the sport, some have questioned whether Barrichello has the necessary ruthlessness to become a winner and the political clout within Ferrari to get his way. But the Brazilian said his image as the smiling face of Ferrari masked his determination to win and his ability to make demands on the team.

“I’m actually not as nice as you might think. I work hard, I work for honesty...but I don’t think I need to be rude to be better in Formula One. But if I feel something is not going the right way I am the first to talk and I don’t like to be left behind.

“I like to be with everyone, to talk to the team, to be friends with people. I just hate the feeling that I have treated someone badly, I am not like that, but when you are working and you need something for your benefit, it needs to be said.

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