Rubens fears tyre war

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Rubens Barrichello is feeling uncertain about whether Ferrari will be able to retain both titles in 2004. But its not Ferrari's performances that are concerning him, instead its that of their tyre supplier Bridgestone. Barrichello fears that the Japanese manufacturer could find themselves coming second to their rivals Michelin more often in 2004.

This year's Championship battle saw a definite improvement from Michelin, who won seven of the 16 races. The French supplier certainly produced the best dry weather tyre..

Michelin's performances are causing some sleepless nights for Barrichello. He told Gazzetta dello Sport: "If I look at the last few seasons, there are reasons to worry about, of course."

"The improvement Michelin made in 2003 was impressive. If they make another one like that next year, we will have to catch up."

Its not just tyres though, that are worrying the Brazilian. Barrichello also believes that the overall packages produced by Ferrari's three biggest rivals - Williams, Renault and McLaren - will be improvements on those they produced in 2003.

"I'm under no illusions. It will be a hard battle against McLaren, Williams and Renault, and who knows if some other team will manage to come out with a competitive car that can fight for the top spots. Obviously I hope that the end of the season will be like it was this year, with Ferrari winning," Barrichello said.

In addition to Michelin's progress, now that Sauber have announced they don't have the budget to run a third car on Fridays, Bridgestone will not get valuable pre-race running. Added to that, with BAR switching to Michelin, the amount of test mileage data from the six Michelin teams will far outweigh the testing done by Ferrari, Minardi, Jordan and Sauber.