Barrichello signals title ambition with BAR-Honda deal

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The Independent Online

"I am very excited," Barrichello said. "I have won many races with Ferrari and I am proud to have helped the team to win five constructors' world championships. However, my target remains winning the drivers' title and to achieve that I felt that I needed a renewed motivation. I have been watching BAR-Honda's progress for some time and have been struck by the spirit and determination of a team that has all the right ingredients to win races and world championships."

Nick Fry, BAR's chief executive officer, said: "Signing Rubens represents another exciting milestone in BAR-Honda's development. Rubens is not only an excellent driver, but has the experience of building a race and championship-winning team and these skills are very important as we work to take BAR-Honda to the next level. That we have developed so quickly to become an attractive proposition to drivers of Rubens's standing is a fantastic credit to the team."

The big question is whether Jenson Button will be around to partner Barrichello, which would make a very strong driver line-up, or whether he must honour his contract with Williams-BMW, who have confirmed they will race with Cosworth V8 engines in 2006. This may prove an escape route for Button, though Sir Frank Williams insists they have a "clear and straightforward contract with no let-out".

Sceptics believe Williams will go into further decline next year after a troubled 2005, but much of their initial success was built with Cosworth engines and that company's new 2.4-litre V8 is already running and exceeding 20,000rpm with good power. Williams' director of engineering, Patrick Head, stresses that the decision was made purely on technical merit, and both parties will invest in the programme, which will include development of the transmission, associated electronics, software and installation architecture.

"The evidence of Cosworth's V8 progress we have seen so far validates completely the expectation we have of enjoying a class-leading package, given next season's engine rule changes," Sir Frank said.