A race weekend with Rubens Barrichello 16 Sep 2008
Rubens Barrichello has won the Italian Grand Prix on two occasions. On Sunday, however, Barrichello was less successful, eventually finishing the 2008 race in 17th for Honda. Despite this disappointing result, Monza remains a special place for the Brazilian and we caught up with him after the Grand Prix to find out about his Italian event and discover a little more about how he likes to spend his time in the office over a race weekend
Q: We were at Monza this weekend, what do you associate with this circuit?
Rubens Barrichello: The track has a lot of passion and emotions. I have won there in 2002 and 2004 and it is actually the only race track that I have won at two times - and I feel great there. I have always done well in Monza, even though the car right now is not so fast. It is one of those races Im always looking forward to.
Q: You dont take to the track until Friday morning, but when do you like to fly in?
RB: Well, because I am so much of a family person, I like to sleep at home in Monaco on the Wednesday night and be with the kids and the family. And then I get up early on Thursday morning and make my way to the next race, trying to arrive at the closest airport to the circuit at around 11am - and then I head straight to the track. Of course the situation is different with the flyaway races where I usually leave home on the Monday or Tuesday to adapt to the different climate and time zone.
Q: Do you make an effort to discover your surroundings at a race, or do you stick to the airport-hotel-track-airport itinerary?
RB: To be honest, it took me seven years to get to know Barcelona - so I must admit most of the time it is really the F1 itinerary airport-hotel-track and back. That in a way is very unfortunate as we race in so many great places - and we have no time to get to know them. But that is a racing drivers schedule. Over a race weekend we usually have sixteen meetings, so its quite predictable where youre going to be. That cuts short any attempts to discover the tourist in you.
Q: Whats your exercise regime over a race weekend? Does it vary according to the race location, demands of the circuit etc?
RB: Because I normally travel on the Thursday morning the last really intense spell of exercise will be on the Wednesday. The only exception would be Japan and China where you meet a lot of drivers in the gym at five in the morning because they cannot sleep anymore. Normally, the most I do over a race weekend is probably half an hour of running just to get the blood circulating.
Q: Whats your preferred accommodation at races - city hotel, hotel near the circuit, your own motorhome near the paddock?
RB: Two years ago I learnt that Jenson (Button) was staying in his own motor home. And when I went in it was a sort of a light-bulb moment. He had everything that he liked from the stuff in his fridge to the music. Now I like that experience. I like to sleep in my own bed and to be very private inside there. I wish I had done that for much longer. So for the European races I have my own motor home.
Q: Is there anything you have to have provided in your hotel room or any luxuries you always bring with you from home?
RB: As my motor home stays in Europe I have to switch to hotels for the flyaway races. But honestly - as we only go back to the hotel for sleeping there is nothing that I take with me. I am a good adapter to any hotel room situation.
Q: Do you enjoy entertaining friends and family during a race weekend?
RB: I do. Although a race weekend is a very serious weekend, I do like to have the family around. But on the other hand, as my weekend is packed with racing and meetings, I do worry a bit when I see my wife reading a 300-page book in two days, as it shows me that she has nothing to do - she is just reading, reading. But it is very nice in the evening when you have the chance to have a nice dinner before you head back to the hotel.
Q: Do you get the chance to go out and socialize on Friday and Saturday night?
RB: The driver that is closest to me is Felipe Massa, as we Brazilians stick together, so many times we have dinner together. I enjoy that social moment. And there is something that is quite new to us: myself, Robert Kubica, Giancarlo Fisichella, Nico Rosberg, Nick Heidfeld and Fernando Alonso we get together to play poker. We get together at the Force India motor home - they accommodate us very well - and we just have fun.
Q: Any drivers you particularly like hanging out with?
RB: Well, there are the poker guys, Felipe Massa - but I get along well with everybody. My oldest friend in the paddock is David Coulthard and I already know that I will miss him when he stops racing at the end of the season.
Q: Your favorite race for nightlife?
RB: I would say Australia is quite good. Monaco is very nice. Canada is also a great place.
Q: Whats the best night out youve had at a Grand Prix? And have you ever overslept the next morning?
RB: One of the best nights out that I had was at Nurburgring. I had won the race and as at Nurburgring there is not really much to do my friend Norbert Haug - I guess I can call him friend - invited me to the Mercedes party that was taking place at the track. I was with my wife and we had a few drinks and then I ended up playing the guitar, even though I do not know how to do it. I also ended up singing, which I really dont have a talent for - and we had a fantastic time. My wife had to walk me back because I didnt know where I was going.
Q: What do you have for breakfast on a race Sunday?
RB: Normally a couple of slices of toast and orange juice. Very basic stuff.
Q: How much do you drink over a race weekend? And what?
RB: I drink a bit more than usual, and mostly the drinks that my physio prepares for me. I like the taste of Perrier and San Pellegrino and the water makes me feel good. At least three litres of water per day.
Q: How do you spend the morning on race Sunday?
RB: As a good Brazilian I like to sleep quite a bit. As the first meeting is at 1030, I sleep until 0944 and get here by 1029!
Q: How do you like to get to the circuit on Sunday morning? Do you drive yourself?
RB: I have to, as I do not feel comfortable with someone else driving me, and I choose either a scooter or the car.
Q: How do you like to spend the hour or so before the race?
RB: I like to be by myself, maybe on the computer listening to some music and doing some stretching exercises. Or my physio gives me a massage.
Q: Any superstitions or pre-race rituals you always go through to bring you luck?
RB: Not anymore. I used to have plenty of them, but you win and lose races with or without them.
Q: Do you have a lucky charm?
RB: I love to bring my kids, who of course bring me luck. But if you want me to show you anything at this moment - I do not have anything in my pocket.
Q: What do you do to stay calm as youre sat on the grid awaiting the formation lap?
RB: I always thought my heartbeat was somewhere above 180 or 190 because it felt like that, but at Ferrari we used to measure it, and surprisingly it was only around 130. Although for someone who is sat down, 130 is quite a lot. When I am on the formation lap I am more relaxed than when I am on the grid, where you might get interviewed or the fans are waving at you. But also from my years of experience, I am more relaxed than I was at the beginning of my career.
Q: How do you wind down after the race?
RB: We always have a debriefing and at around 7pm I tend to leave the track. Then I usually have a glass of wine. Sometimes after a race, I go to Brazil or Monaco to relax. And I can switch-off very quickly, because after 16 years, you get used to anything.
Q: If things dont go your way and you retire early, do you prefer to get away as soon as possible, or hang out and watch the rest of the race?
RB: I think you have to stay. Even if you drop out for a reason, you should see how the other car is doing, and to learn and understand what has happened. So 99 per cent of the time, I will stay.