Back in the hunt - exclusive interview with Rubens Barrichello 28 Aug 2009
The five years between wins was not the easiest of times for Rubens Barrichello, so no wonder his Valencia victory was overwhelming. Moving up to second in the championship was also a bonus he is ready to embrace - despite the considerable 18 point gap to Brawn team mate Jenson Button. With Sunday's weather forecast not as grim as usual - no rain predicted and temperatures around 20 degrees - Barrichello hopes to bank another good result at Spa - and then get his 2010 drive secured within four weeks
Q: Rubens, it was a fantastic win for you last weekend in Valencia, the tenth of your career. What did that victory mean for you, five years after your last one?
Rubens Barrichello: It means a lot. It was not just the tenth for me but it was the hundredth for Brazil which made it even more special. And I was told that it was the 150th for Bridgestone - so it was commemorations all round. Even though I am very well prepared for the pressure - and, living with that pressure day by day, you dont feel it - as soon as I crossed the finish line it was amazing how much lighter I felt. And five years was a pretty long time. When I was leaving Ferrari I always felt that I was leaving the past behind, that I was going to have a good car and I was going to win races forever. But the middle of my time with Honda, when I saw that the car was never there, it was frustrating just to be racing. But I kept my motivation, I kept my ego flying high and last weekend was the reward.
Q: McLaren said that they didnt lose the win because of Lewis Hamiltons slow pit stop, but because your car was so good. Your race seemed to be a walk in the park. Did you face any trouble in those 57 laps?
RB: Well, it was not easy. It was hot and the brakes were very hot as well. Although Valencia is not a tremendously difficult track, it is easy to make a mistake. I was on a different strategy, I had different tyres than Lewis. I knew I had to be very consistent because that would win the race - and thats what won the race. Even if Lewis had not had the problem at his pit stop, I think we would have had won because I had another three laps to go. It was all very, very special.
Q: The victory puts you are second in the championship standings, meaning that you are a serious candidate for the title. You could win - but can you win?
RB: It was always my desire and my will and I think I can. Sure, I have to keep pushing very hard. People say the gap of 18 points is too much, but it is better than the 26 I started the last race with. I am happy. It is totally open within the team who wins the championship and I hope it stays that way.
Q: Your victory was even welcomed by Red Bull Racing. Doesnt that make you a bit suspicious?
RB: Well, at the end of the day Im such a popular guy and it takes me 15 minutes to get in and out of the paddock! I received congratulations from Vettel and from Webber - for them it was better news that I won instead of my team mate.
Q: Valencia again suggested that the Brawn car prefers higher temperatures. What about here in Spa?
RB: We found something on the mechanical set-up of the car there that I hope we can use here. But it is very clear that our car works very well on a hot track. At the beginning of the year it wasnt so much the case, but I am prone to say that I think this weekend we will still be competitive, even though the temperature will definitely be lower than in Valencia. I am expecting the Red Bulls to be really tough and Ferrari. About McLaren I am not so sure - because of the high-speed corners they might suffer a bit more.
Q: After three consecutive races - the British, German and Hungarian Grands Prix - where Brawn didnt shine, some questioned whether the team had lost its momentum in terms of development. After Valencia we know you havent. What do Brawn GP have up their sleeves to stay at the top?
RB: The team is working really well. They brought a big upgrade for Hungary but unfortunately somehow we couldnt make it work mechanically and we had that problematic weekend. The only thing that I can say is that the team is working very hard and I think that we have a chance to get on top of the world with the championship. It was nice to come back in Valencia, even more so because we had those three races that were pretty bad. So I believe we can surprise some people, even here. In terms of upgrades, we have three or four things to be tested here aerodynamically and mechanically and I expect them to work.
Q: After Spa the team will look at their driver line-up. Ross Brawn has said that he doesnt see the need for a change for next year, whereas Nick Fry was pulling back a bit, saying that the team has to look to the future, which could mean looking for a younger driver. What is your gut feeling about 2010?
RB: The most important thing for me is that I want one hundred percent to be here next year - to be in Formula One. I am talking to the team here and Im talking to some other people and I hope that I can get a deal. But not just to make up the numbers. People are thinking that Rubens wants to get to the 300 (Grands Prix) mark - and, sure, that would be great - but I also want the chance to fight for wins and that championship. I have a chance right now and I hope I will have one next year. Im talking to everyone. Ive been speaking briefly with Ross, but not majorly. I dont want to wait like I had to do last year. For me to go all the way through January without a drive was very sad, especially knowing that I was capable of doing something for the team, and for the show. I want to fix my seat within one month. That is most important for me.
Q: Youve been on the Spa podium twice before - a second place in 2002 and third in 2004. The top spot is missing. Could that be accomplished this weekend, given the track characteristics and the temperature?
RB: I had a horrible Valencia 2008 and a fantastic Valencia 2009 and so I hope that I can reach the top step in places. At least four of the six remaining races are among my favourites and I hope that I can make it. And even Spa is looking good for me, so lets wait and see what the weekend brings.