Barrichello success influenced Schumacher, says Alesi
28 January 2010 – Jean Alesi believes that Rubens Barrichello's bid for the title last year was one of the main reasons Michael Schumacher elected to return to racing. With Barrichello having finished 2009 third overall, Alesi believes that Schumacher recognises his ex team-mate's pace-setting abilities and hopes to repeat the feat himself.
With Williams' Barrichello and Mercedes' Schumacher having been Ferrari team-mates between 2000 and 2005, the Brazilian endured three difficult seasons at Honda for the next years as the German retired at the end of 2006. Alesi, a former Ferrari pilot himself, is sure that Schumacher's decision to return was very much spurred on by Barrichello's achievements of last season.
"Rubens Barrichello was still in contention for the title until the penultimate race," the French-Sicilian told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport. "Michael always had Rubens under control at Ferrari, so he probably said to himself, 'If the back-up can still be up the front, so can I!'
"The fact that he's left Ferrari means this (the comeback) is very important to him already; he still enjoys F1 like a child and is so excited about the new season, as if it was his first. If you retire from being driver in Formula 1, it's like losing your best friend - I cheered myself up with DTM but if, like Michael, I had received an offer from a top team, I'd be back too."
Alesi added that Schumacher's experience will be of enormous worth in a season of more rule changes. "He can't be measured by the usual standards," added Alesi, who retired from the sport at the end of 2001. "He's lost none of his speed and has much more experience than opponents like Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel. He knows how to race with no refuelling too, from the period before 1994, while the young drivers are wondering what to expect of it all."