Journeyer concludes his two-part look at Rubens Barrichello’s F1 career.
Rubens Barrichello is the most experienced driver in Formula 1 history – and from the end of 1990s and throughout the 2000s he was usually found mixing it with the leaders and regularly winning races himself. But despite a long spell at multiple championship winners Ferrari he failed to win the world championship.
2000: With a race-winning car under him, he finally scored his first win at Hockenheim in 2000. He had to earn the win, though, fighting back from 18th on the grid, and having to drive on dry tyres on a wet-dry track.
2001: It should’ve been the year Barrichello would challenge team mate Michael Schumacher for the title. Instead, he struggled with mechanical gremlins for much of the year. He did score 10 podiums, including 5 second place finishes.
While he didn’t finish on the podium in Japan, he had some gutsy racing and brilliantly overtook both Williams.
2002: It was Rubens’ best year to date, with wins at the Nurburging, the Hungaroring, and Monza, giving him second place in the championship. But his ‘gimme’ win at Indianapolis after Schumacher’s failed attempt at a dead heat wasn’t a shining moment.
However, Indianapolis was nothing compared to Austria, where team orders meant he has to give up the win to Schumacher. Ross Brawn said Barrichello won, but Schumacher got the ten points for the championship. It was another black mark on Ferrari’s year of dominance.
2003: It was tougher for Barrichello to win that year, with a slightly less superior Ferrari. But he did start beating Schumacher on merit more often that year. He won at Suzuka, which clinched the drivers’ championship for Schumacher.
But it was his win at Silverstone that stood out as his best performance all year. And just like Hockenheim 2000, a protester on track helped Barrichello’s cause.
2004: As Ferrari returned to the levels of dominance it saw in 2002, Barrichello also began to be more competitive again. He was even allowed to challenge Schumacher more. But despite good drives at Montreal and Indianapolis, he was unable to hold off Schumacher there. In particular, I remember Barrichello getting passed at the first restart in Indy.
But he still won in dramatic fashion at Monza, despite being on the wrong tyres at one point.
Barrichello also won the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai after Schumacher’s horrific race. The Ferrari number two held off Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen (whose onboard we see here) to take his first back-to-back victory. It was also his last win to date.
2005: Ferrari’s streak of championships finally came to an end. Both Schumacher and Barrichello became less competitive. Barrichello did score three podiums: second in that controversial race at Indianapolis, third at the Nurburgring, and second at the opening round in Melbourne.
Barrichello started to become more public about his criticism of Ferrari, and how they held him back. He felt he was good enough to win races and championships, and looked for a team that could do just that.
2006: Enter good friend and fellow Brazilian Gil de Ferran, who had just retired from the IRL. Honda had duly recruited him to become part of its full-fledged F1 effort. He was good friends with Barrichello and they duly started talking about him coming into the team.
Soon enough, Barrichello took Takuma Sato’s place, and did his best to try and beat new team mate Jenson Button.
Button beat him that year, with multiple podiums and that first win in Hungary. Barrichello didn’t even manage a podium, but did have ten points finishes. His best results were two fourth place finishes at Monaco and Hungary.
I would say, though, that Barrichello’s most eventful race was in China. He was battling with Button for fourth place for most of the race. But his late braking error on the penultimate corner of the race dropped himself and Nick Heidfeld down the order.
2007: Without doubt, this was the worst year of Barrichello’s F1 career. It is the only season to date where he has failed to score. This spin in FP2 at Melbourne was indicative of the problems he would face all year.
2008: It wouldn’t get much better in 2008. But in the final score line, he beat Button for the first time. Much of that was down to his utterly brilliant drive to third at Silverstone. Despite all this, many were doubting if Honda would retain Barrichello for 2009.
2009: But then came a bigger surprise – Honda’s pullout from F1. Ross Brawn eventually led a management buyout. Ironically, that buyout may have saved Barrichello’s career in more ways than one. Bruno Senna was the favorite to take his seat had Honda stayed in the sport. But Ross now needed Barrichello’s experience and technical expertise to help his new team.
He was F1’s Lazarus – back from a dead career with a vengeance. Second place in Australia and fifth place in Malaysia (which could easily have been second) have propelled him to second place in the championship behind Button – his best showing in five years.
Barrichello did well at Sepang last weekend, despite finishing fifth. He executed some brilliant overtaking maneuvers, including this one on Fernando Alonso.
Can Brawn stay competitive, with or without those trick diffusers? Barrichello has traditionally done well at Shanghai, so should be a good bet for a podium or even a win. Let’s find out how he does this weekend!
Read the first part of this article: Rubens Barrichello’s career in video (p1)