Exclusive interview - Rubens Barrichello 09 Jun 2006
Six races into the season and some were calling Rubens Barrichello the disappointment of the year. At Monaco, however, he proved his critics wrong, with a strong fourth place for Honda hinting at more to come in the races ahead. It looks as though Barrichello has now put the adaptation phase behind him and is ready to get back to the racing
Q: What is the biggest difference between Honda and Ferrari?
Rubens Barrichello: It is sushi now and spaghetti then. Thats all. Both teams equal in their ambitions to win races, and the often suggested mental differences are non existent as both teams are truly international from the management side, so its not the much fabled Asian versus European way of executing things.
Q: After having spent six years with a world championship-winning team - which almost automatically made you a podium candidate at each race - how does it feel having to fight from the mid-field again?
RB: I would have been naive to think that moving to another team is just jumping from one car to another. During winter testing and the first three races I got used to the car to a certain point but then I made it clear that if they want to use my experience and potential the car has to come my way. We are working very hard on that and the result proves that we are on the right track.
Q: Honda team boss Nick Fry said that it takes at least six months before a driver settles within a new team. Obviously you reached that point in Monaco. How was that feeling - not only to knowing youre still an A-driver, but showing it as well? RB: Ive always had confidence in myself and in the Honda team that it would work out for us. I didnt have the best of starts to the season but weve worked hard together and the results are starting to show. The team have been great, supporting me all the way, and listening to my ideas about how we can develop the car to better suit my driving style. Sure it was nice to get a good points finish in Monaco, but that is just the start of the work ahead for us.
Q: At Ferrari you were clearly number-two driver. How is your position at Honda - and will your fantastic Monaco weekend consolidate your standing?
RB: My position at Honda has always been as an equal to Jenson (Button). It is great for the team to have two experienced drivers, Ive been around F1 for a long time now and Jenson has been in the sport for nearly six years, so we can combine our experience and knowledge. Monaco was a good weekend for me in that it was my highest points finish for Honda but were not satisfied with that and will keep working hard to make further improvements.
Q: Has the Monaco breakthrough changed your expectations for the races to come?
RB: Monaco was a tough weekend for us despite my fourth place finish. Both Jenson and I struggled for balance on new tyres in qualifying and the race and we certainly werent on the pace of the leading cars. I was disappointed to miss out on my first podium with the team also. We know that we have a lot of work to do in the coming weeks and have been working hard in testing at Barcelona last week to try and develop the car.
Q: Hondas performance can be described as something of a rollercoaster ride. To what factors do you attribute that instable form?
RB: We went into the season with high hopes and things havent gone our way so far. Our main focus is to get back on the pace of the front-running teams and be competitive for the wins. Honda wants to be a winner and we will get there - the effort put in by the whole team is relentless.
Q: What are your personal feelings about having changed teams? Already feeling at home or is a part of your heart still dark red?
RB: I feel totally at home at Honda. We had to do a bit of work together when I first joined, after all I had been at another team for so long, it will always take some time to adjust. But now we have a really good feeling within the team and I can feel the car coming more and more to me, so its all good.
Q: With this upbeat mood you should be very confident for the Silverstone weekend. Are you?
RB: Silverstone is just a fantastic circuit. It's a high-speed track with some challenging corners and although overtaking can be a bit difficult around here, it's a track that I really enjoy driving. I've spent a great deal of time both testing and racing at Silverstone since I was young, so it holds some special memories for me. Of course the most special of those is my win from pole position back in 2003. We had a solid test in Barcelona last week to prepare for Silverstone, looking specifically at the car set-up and the tyres for this race, so I'm feeling fairly comfortable going into the weekend.