“Rubens Barrichello” (David Tremayne, 2005)

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Or to give it its full title, “Rubens Barrichello: In the spirit of Senna and the shadow of Schumacher.”

That sentence sums up the Brazilian’s career rather pithily, but as Barrichello is poised to set a new record for most Grand Prix starts this year, there is plenty more to be said about him.

The curse of the modern Formula 1 biography is getting access to the subject. And although Tremayne mentions in the book that he did interview Barrichello in the course of writing it (which is certainly not something that happens with most F1 biographies) he points out that he had to do it with a Ferrari public relations representative listening in. Perhaps that’s why the quotes given by Barrichello are not especially revealing.

Or perhaps it’s because Barrichello is just too nice. This comes up several times in the book, to the point that I began to wonder if Tremayne couldn’t bring himself to criticise someone who is renowned as F1’s Mr Nice.

I mention this because although “In the spirit of Senna and the shadow of Schumacher” has plenty to say about the detail of Barrichello’s career, it passes up several opportunities to get under the skin of who he is and what he wants from his F1 career.

So although we are told several times that Ayrton Senna’s death had a profound effect on Barrichello, it’s hard to understand why, because he doesn’t figure much in the opening chapters.

Similarly the sections on Barrichello’s time at Ferrari tell us little beyond what happened at the races. The Austrian Grands Prix of 2001 and 2002 made it abundantly clear that Barrichello’s role at the team was to support Schumacher – but what did this mean in terms of testing mileage and priority on new components?

I’m sure the only reason this information isn’t here is because Ferrari wouldn’t let this kind of information out, but it makes understanding Barrichello’s position in the team nigh on impossible.

But even if Ferrari aren’t talking, surely there are past team mates and team owners who might have had something illuminating to offer?

By far the best chapter in the book covers his 1993 season at Jordan, but this seems to lead quite heavily on Maurice Hamilton’s book “Race Without End” (look out for a review of it soon) written after spending 12 months in the team as a ‘fly on the wall’.

After that the book descends into a reciting of race after race that quickly becomes tedious if you saw them and remember them.

It promises much to begin with, but never really takes off and towards the end you’re just waiting for it to finish. Which is another way of summing up Barrichello’s career in one sentence…

ISBN 1844252000

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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10 comments on ““Rubens Barrichello” (David Tremayne, 2005)”

  1. That last line is just superb :D

  2. I think it’s a very interesting book to read. The whole life of Rubens in F1 is interesting.

  3. Im not surprised that the book is boring, so is Rubens’ career. Perhaps if he stopped saying that he had to play second fiddle to Schumi at Ferrari he would have accomplished more. The fact is that he couldnt make it and i doubt he ever will be a front runner.

  4. I have not much respect for barrichello. In the past when you were as fast as your team mate, and you were a winner. There were races where you just did not let him overtake.
    Arnoux on prost 82, reutteman on jones 81. But he went for the money, and the easy life at ferrari. Nothing wrong with that. But please do not lie to the f1 fans. They deserve better.

    1. you are wrong my friend but it’s ok. We live in democracy(?) and Rubens was treated very well in Ferrari & Brawn (????). I don’t understand all of you Rubens’ haters-guys. You want to close your eyes and protect the looks of the sport. Rubens has so many enemies because all of them are Schumacher fans. That simple! Cheers!

  5. I agree, that last line is classic.

    As much as a like him as a person, as a racer there are so many young drivers waiting for a chance to shine. Move aside DC and Rubins. Let the young guys have a chance.

  6. I disagree with Jose, I don’t think Rubens is in F1 for the money. If he was he could have retired in 2005, but instead he went to Honda to try and prove that he was not just Schumacher’s puppet. Granted, that didn’t work out, but I think he does deserve respect, he is a good driver, he just isn’t the driver people expect him to be i.e. Michael Schumacher or Ayrton Senna.

  7. I’m fond of Barrichello, but not on the author (Mr. Tremayne) so I would never buy a book of his. Why? Because he is not equanimous. I hope that other British journalists will soon take his spot at formula1.com. 

  8. The last line is insulting and shows no respect for such a fine driver such as Barrichello. If we forget, for a moment, that he was a F1 driver, we would come with:

    500 Miles Granha Viana champion (a 500 mile karting race!)
    1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005!!

    Five times Brazilian Karting champion, 3 times vicechampion.

    Five times Paulistia (Sao Paulo) Karting champion, 3 times vice champion.


    1. I agree, the last line is an insult. Dear Flavio don’t expect from European guys to support a Brazilian driver. They are all into British, Germans, Spanish etc. F1 took a very wrong course through the years. Rubens IS a multiple champion in our hearts! Rubinho forever!

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