Will the local hero finally make good in Sao Paulo...
Its hard to believe that Rubens Barrichello has scored just once in his home race. In fact, in his 11 Brazilian Grand Prix starts to date, that fourth place for Jordan in 1994 was the only time he has even made it to the finish at Interlagos.
The 1993 Brazilian race was only the second Formula One outing of Barrichello's career. He qualified his Jordan in 14th, and was up to 12th when his gearbox failed on lap 13. He also took 14th on the grid the following year, converting it this time into the aforementioned fourth place, coming home seven seconds behind the Ferrari of Jean Alesi.
The 1995 event saw Barrichello qualify 16th and retire 16 laps in, again with gearbox problems. Success looked assured in 1996 when he took a spectacular P2 on the grid alongside the Williams of Damon Hill. However, he spun off with brake problems just 12 laps from home while running fourth.
In 1997 it was 11th on the grid for the Stewart team, with retirement on lap 16 due to suspension difficulties. 1998 brought P13 in qualifying then a DNF on lap 56 while running in 12th. Again the gearbox was the culprit.
Things took a turn for the better in 1999, or so it seemed. In his final home race for Stewart, Barrichello clinched third on the grid, with only the McLarens of Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard in front of him. He was still running third on lap 42 when an engine failure robbed him of a possible podium.
His first race for Ferrari in 2000 lasted until lap 27 when a hydraulics glitch took him out while in eighth place, having qualified fourth. In 2001 he was forced to make a late minute switch to the spare after a problem with his race car on the formation lap. A collision with Ralf Schumacher then ended his hopes just two laps later.
In 2002 he had to drop his best qualifying time as a penalty for running a pit-lane red light, leaving him eighth on the grid. Nevertheless, with strategy suitably adjusted he was soon leading the race and looked set for a podium, only for the normally bullet-proof Ferrari to let him down on lap 16, again with a hydraulics problem.
And last year, Barrichellos prospects looked brighter than ever for his home race. He qualified on pole for the first time at Interlagos, edging David Coulthard by a hundredth of a second. He then stayed calm in the chaotic conditions to find himself leading on lap 46, only for a fuel feed problem (many suspected he simply ran out of fuel) to cruelly end his chances.
This year Barrichello will again be optimistic of breaking his run of bad luck at Interlagos. He has won two of the last three races and taken pole position at those two. Ferrari have both championships safely wrapped up and Rubens second place in the drivers standings is secure. Even team mate Michael Schumacher has confessed he will help Barrichello, should the situation arise.
Perhaps his time has come at last