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…
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