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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 February, 2003, 14:33 GMT
Rubens Barrichello
Rubens Barrichello remains the number two driver at Ferrari

Rubens Barrichello's form this season has underlined just how much Ferrari rely on Michael Schumacher.

Last season, the Italian team were so good that both men were usually well clear of their rivals.

But Ferrari's advantage has been eroded this season and while Schumacher has remained a major contender, Barrichello has often been anonymous - bar the odd great performance.

Born: 23/5/72
Nationality: Brazilian
First GP: South Africa 1993
Wins: 5
2003 position: 4th
Previous teams: Jordan, Stewart

This has happened at a time when Barrichello finally seems at peace with the particular demands of being the number two driver at Ferrari.

It took the likeable Brazilian a couple of seasons to come to terms with the fact that not only was he not quick enough to challenge Michael Schumacher, but that he would not be allowed to do so even if he was.

But after three wins in 2002 - all of them down to Schumacher to one degree or another - his role is set.

How and why Barrichello has come to settle for that is less clear - for he is a man of pride and considerable talent, and he deserves more than merely playing a supporting role to Schumacher.

At least part of the reason is that driving for Ferrari gives him the opportunity to win, Schumacher and team allowing.

He has established himself as the best team-mate Schumacher has ever had - in terms of combining competitiveness with compliance.

Barrichello is closer to Schumacher on pure speed than any of the German's previous team-mates.

From time to time, Barrichello has proved himself a match for his team-mate - he was out-and-out more competitive in three consecutive races in the middle of this summer.

He drove a brilliant race at Silverstone - but even he admitted that it is the sort of Grand Prix that should have been seen more often form him.

But he will never find out just how far his talent could take him while he remains Schumacher's underling.

F1 2003

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