Barrichello milestones - 300 Grands Prix and counting 26 Aug 2010
Aged 38, Rubens Barrichellos passion for racing shows no sign of abating - as his wheel-to-wheel tussle with former team mate Michael Schumacher in Hungary proved. Winning out against the 41-year-old German, it was a battle born out of a different era. For Barrichello, who will celebrate his 300th Grand Prix in Belgium this weekend, it was all par for the course, but for his legion of fans it was further proof of the unswerving verve and vigour of the grids most experienced driver. We look back on some of the ever-cheerful Brazilians best (and worst) F1 moments
1993 South African Grand Prix
Rewind to his Formula One debut and it really underlines just how long Barrichello has been part of the Formula One fraternity. Driving for Jordan (now Force India) at the long-since-absent South African Grand Prix, Barrichellos first race was promising. Fourteenth on the Kylami grid may not have set the world alight, but it fulfilled his aim of a top-15 slot and he was almost half a second quicker than experienced team mate Ivan Capelli. And in the race the Brazilian newcomer had made it up to seventh when the gearbox of his Hart-engined car failed nearing half distance. Capelli spun off on the third lap.
1994 San Marino Grand Prix
While he didnt compete in the race itself, this was far and away the toughest Grand Prix weekend of Barrichellos career. During his first flying lap on Friday afternoon, he lost control of his Jordan through Variante Bassa and crashed heavily, his car landing upside down. Knocked unconscious by the accident, he awoke in hospital to discover that the quick response of circuit medics had saved his life and that hed somehow escaped with little more than a broken arm. His sense of humour was still intact, however, and after acknowledging hed have to stay and play with the nurses for a while, he vowed hed be back. And so he was, albeit not at Imola that weekend. The drama from San Marino wasnt over, however, and on Saturday the much-loved Austrian rookie Roland Ratzenberger was killed, followed by an even more personal loss for Barrichello on Sunday with the death of friend and mentor Ayrton Senna.
1997 Monaco Grand Prix
For 1997, having found himself usurped by Ralf Schumacher at Jordan, Barrichello jumped ship to the new Stewart team. He was still targeting his first Formula One victory, but he knew it would be a long time before the newcomers would be competing for wins. And he was proved right. Woeful reliability meant he finished just two Grands Prix that season. However, one - Monaco - earned him six points after he finished a spectacular second. He had qualified well in tenth, a feat in itself as he was the fastest Bridgestone runner. The tyres helped him out on Sunday too, performing consistently in the wet weather to ease him into P2 behind Michael Schumacher by lap six, and he held the place until the chequered flag. At the track where Senna had excelled, after the race Barrichellos thoughts turned to his late countryman. It's just great to be here, on the podium at Monaco, he said. It is not so long ago that I used to get up at eight in Brazil, and watch Senna at Monaco. For me to be on the podium here is something else.
2000 German Grand Prix
In 2000 Barrichello joined Ferrari as team mate to Michael Schumacher. Competing against the German on home turf was always going to be a tough ask and mechanical problems meant Barrichello qualified 18th to his colleagues second. By the end of the first lap, however, Schumacher was making his way back to the pits after crashing out and Barrichello was up to tenth. Eleven laps later he had made up another six positions and was charging in fourth place. Jarno Trulli was the next to fall into the Brazilians clutches and by the time he pitted he was up to third. But with the McLarens of Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard well clear up front, it looked as though a podium finish was his best hope. That was until a spectator climbed on to the circuit, crossing the track to avoid capture. The safety car was hastily deployed, bringing Barrichello into contention, and rain late in the race mixed things up further. Hakkinen pitted for wets, but brave Barrichello was one of four drivers who opted to stay out on dry tyres. It was a gamble - compatriot Ricardo Zonta span on his slick rubber - but the Brazilian persisted and crossed the line first. After nearly a decade in Formula One, Rubens Barrichello had finally won a race and it remains one of his finest performances.
2002 Austrian Grand Prix
Some would say a low point as much for the sport as it was for Barrichello. When he signed for Ferrari, Barrichello no doubt knew his races would be dictated to a large degree by the demands of Schumacher and he fell victim to team orders on more than one occasion. This occasion was particularly memorable. After an outstanding weekend, during which hed clinched pole position and dominated the race, Barrichello was asked to move aside for Schumacher on the final lap to boost the Germans championship hopes. Outraged outbursts from commentators, jeers from the crowd, and an awkward podium ceremony where Schumacher attempted to force Barrichello on to the top step followed. In the aftermath Ferrari were fined a US$1,000,000 and new rules were introduced to prevent team orders affecting race results.
2003 British Grand Prix
Barrichello arrived at Silverstone feeling pretty besieged. Despite a highly competitive car, hed failed to win any of seasons preceding rounds and had qualified almost seven-tenths adrift of team mate Schumacher at the last race in France. In Britain, however, he took a strong pole position and went on to claim victory despite two safety-car periods, one prompted by debris and the other by an errant spectator dressed in a kilt and carrying a placard on the circuit. As at Hockenheim in 2000, when a track invasion also disrupted the race, Barrichello kept his head and took a memorable win.
2008 British Grand Prix
Silverstone again, five years later, and Barrichello was driving for a different team, Honda, struggling to make an impression in the largely troublesome RA108. Starting 16th on the grid, the Brazilian, who had last taken a podium at the 2005 United States Grand Prix, didnt hold much hope of a strong result. But a clever strategy switch during the race saw him take on extreme wet-weather tyres at a vital point. As the rain worsened, and his competitors chose to struggle on using their standard wets, Barrichello took advantage. He finished in third, although had it not been for a refuelling rig problem at his second stop, it might have been second. It was the teams first - and only - podium of the season.
2009 European Grand Prix
A full five seasons after hes last clinched a win - at the 2004 Chinese Grand Prix - Barrichello returned to winning form last year. Staying with Honda as they were raised from the ashes to become Brawn GP, hed already seen team mate Jenson Button win five times in the superb BGP 001. In Valencia he finally matched the Briton, capitalising on his third-place grid slot, plus graining issues for Button, and a McLaren error during a Lewis Hamilton pit stop, to win the event. It was the tenth victory of his F1 career and the 100th for a Brazilian driver. Barrichello was ecstatic: It's just amazing and a weekend that I will never forget. Even after five years, you don't forget how to win and the feeling is so good!