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The Five Best Drives of Rubens Barrichello

Those who remember Barrichello probably remember him as the N2 driver of Ferrari during the years when Michael Schumacher was racking up title after title. On a few occasions Barrichello was the victim of team orders that forced him to give up positions and once even a win to his teammate. Though many questioned if Barrichello was even allowed to take the fight to his more illostrious teammate, I think if we are realistic, we all know that he was slower than Schumacher in most occasions.

Still, just because he was not as fast as the 7 time world champion that did not make Barrichello a bad driver at all, and he had many memorable drives and victories which are worth remembering.

2008 British GP

The 2008 season was a very difficult one for both Barrichello, his teammate Button and the Honda team also. The car was a solid one at the beginning of the season, but it was clear that points were the maximum which could be achieved with it, podiums and wins very out of the question.

Barrichello got two point scoring positions before the British GP, but both the Monaco and the Canadian GPs were chaos races, interrupted by rain and many SCs which mixed up the pecking order.

In the dry qualifying of the British GP the Hondas looked lost, nowhere near capable of challenging for even points. Barrichello qualified 16th, while his teammate was 17th.

Had the race been held in dry conditions no doubt they would have remained around this position. Luckily for Honda the race was in the wet. As the race progressed the rain intensified steadily, and by the middle of the race the intermedieta tyres looked outmatched. Still, most decided to brave it out on intermedietes, but Honda team principal Ross Braw though otherwise. He called in both his drivers for full wets, and the two became lightning fast in an instance. Such was the speed of Barrichello and Button that they were 5-10 seconds quicker than anyone, and made up the lost time in a few laps. Button unfortunately crashed out, but Barrichello climbed up to second before the rain seized. He was forced to jump into the pits again for new intermedietes, but he was still able to maintain 3rd position, and finished the race there, outperforming his machinery by a long way.

Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Barrichello won his last race in 2009.
    • True
    • False

Answer Key

  1. True

1993 European GP

Barrichello made his F1 debut in 1993, at the Jordan Team. The Brazilian arrived into F1 having the reputation as a great talent. Unfortunately for him he was not one of the drivers who was lucky enough to take a set at a top team from the beggining. The 1993 Jordan was a solid car, but on a normal day there were 4-5 teams, so 8-10 car, who were quicker than them.

In the dry qualifying session Barrichello only managed a 12th position, but once again, come race day, rain allowed the Brazilian to shine with an uncompetitive car.

Most people remember the 1993 European GP for the sensetional performance of Ayrton Senna, who trounced the superior Williams Renaults. But there was another Brazilian that day who had an outstanding driver, 21 years old Rubens Barrichello.

The race at Donington was a chaos race if there ever was one, the rain was not particulary heavy, but it kept starting, then stopping, and then starting again, and stopping again a little while later. The Williams Renaults were the quickest cars of the field by a country mile, but Senna’s wet weather brilliance and the bad weather forecasts they received threw them back. Amidst the chaos young Barrichello climbed up to second position for a time. He dropped back to third after a time, but just before he was forced to retire with fuel pressure problem he was still running third, ahead of 4 time world champion Alain Prost in the all conquering Williams Renault, which had a much stronger engine, much more advanced electronics and had Prost at the wheel.

2009 European GP

After two lean years in 2007 and 2008, Button and Barrichello finally received a race winning car at the beginning of 2009.

Button made much better use of the superb Brawn GP car, and won six out of the first seven races of the season. Barrichello on the other hand was really struggling to match his teammate, and only got 4 podiums in the first 10 races. Button hit a bit of a bad patch after the seventh race, but Barrichello did not really look like a threat to his teammate.

When the teams arrived to Valencia Barrichello needed a win to keep his championship challenge going. A resurgant McLaren team locked out the front row in qualifying, but after the weights of the cars became official, it looked like third place man Barrichello could actually give the McLarens a run for their money, as he was much heavier than them.

The race started off well for Barrichello as he maintained his third position, while his teammate dropped back from fifth to ninth. Barrichello was keeping easily pace with second place man Kovalainen in the first stint, and passed the Finn after his first stop.

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Keeping up with leader Hamilton was harder, but the veteran Brazilian kept himself in contention and when Hamilton entered the pits on lap 36 Barrichello was still within striking distance. Hamilton had a slow stop, and when three laps later Barrichello pitted he easily rejoined in front of Hamilton. From that moment on he never looked back and took his first win of 2009.

His teammate Button only managed a 7th place, which meant that Barrichello recovered 8 points to Button, which brough down the gap between the two to 18 points.

2000 German GP

Ferrari signed Barrichello to replace Eddie Irvine for the 2000 season. Although he was rated as a talented driver, few expected him to give Michael Schumacher a serious run for his money. Those who were thinking like this probably felt their opinion validated, as apart from a few races Barrichello failed to came close to Schumacher in the first half of the 2000 season.

The German GP looked no different, as Barrichello had a difficult qualifying, and only managed an 18th place. To make matters even worse for Ferrari, Schumacher was hit by Fisichella at the start, which ended the German’s race after only a few meters.

Barrichello was rapidly going through the field, but he was on a ligter fuel load, which meant that even with his strong performance, the best he could have hoped for was third at best case scenario, but more probably fourth or fifth.

The leading McLarens looked in total control, than the unexpected happened. A former employee of Mercedes walked up to the side of the track, protesting against the firm. The SC was deployed, and the huge lead of the McLaren’s was wiped out. Clouds also became darker and darker above the Hockenheimring, and with a few laps to go it started to drizzle.

The McLarens went to the pits for new tyres, but Barrichello decided to stay out. His gamble paid off, as only parts of the very long track were hit by the rain. The McLarens were unable to catch Barrichello who took a superb victory, his first one in F1.

Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Barrichello spent six season at Ferrari.
    • False
    • True

Answer Key

  1. True

2003 British GP

After an utterly dominant 2002 season, 2003 was much more open. Ferrari and Michael Schumacher finally looked vulnerable, as McLaren and Williams took the fight to them.

The teams on Michelin tyres gained the upper hand as the season progressed, and between Monaco and the Hungarian GP Ferrari were often struggling badly. Schumacher pulled off a brilliant win in Canada, but on other occasions he failed to mount a challenge.

One race where Ferrari looked lightning fast in this period was the British GP. However, it was not Schumacher who looked the fastest man of the weekend but his teammate Barrichello.

Before the British GP Barrichello failed to win a race in 2003, and he no doubt was eager to change this status quo.

He took pole position in the qualifying session. Unfortunately for him he had a bad start and was passed by both Trulli and Raikkonen. Despite his bad start he was not giving up, and once his tyres were up to temperature he attacked and passed Raikkonen. Than two SCs were deployed in quick succession which shoffled up the grid. Raikkonen profited from the SCs, while Barrichello dropped back.

Barrichello had his work cut out, but he showed how much he wanted the victory by passing Ralf Schumacher, Trulli and later Raikkonen on the track to take the win. The Brazilian in the end won the race comfortably, in what was for me the best drive of his career.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 Andrew Szekler

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