Exclusive Rubens Barrichello Q&A: I thought Ferrari had changed 29 Jul 2010
Williams Rubens Barrichello confesses he found himself rubbing his eyes in disbelief at what he saw at Hockenheim. The man who spent so long partnering Michael Schumacher at Ferrari never thought the Italian team would dare to do it again after Austria 2002. The Brazilian admits it made him happy to be where he is now - not at the front of the grid perhaps, but approaching his 300th Grand Prix confident of plenty more to come. We spoke to him about Williams form, team orders, and his hopes for the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend
Q: Rubens, after the European and British Grands Prix it looked as if Williams were really on a roll, but then came Germany and another zero-points round. Why?
Rubens Barrichello: Well, to be honest with you Germany was not as bad as it looks. In Spain and Silverstone we were ahead and doing the same times as the guys behind - but we were ahead. In Germany we were behind, doing the same times as the guys in front so overtaking was not possible. So we had a bad start and that culminated in not scoring points. The pace was exactly the same as the guys in front, but we could not do anything. I think we are still on a good upward curve. In fact everything is very close this year. I would not call what has happened in Germany unlucky, but we paid the price for having a bad start. And we are paying the price for not having good starts because we put more emphasis on the performance of the car. I think in Germany we just were just behind the frontrunners.
Q: How satisfying were Valencia and Silverstone? Up to then it had been quite a drought for you
RB: Ah, it was very satisfying - because at the end of the day you are not just working to finish where you finish. We have changed the attitude of the car and the team already understood it very well for Montreal. So the car became a lot better and we scored very well in the two races after Montreal.
Q: Being on an improving streak will keep thoughts of retirement away, but when things arent going so well the idea must cross your mind. Any signs of fatigue?
RB: I love racing. I wake up every day with one aim, one target for every day, and as long as you reach the target for that day it is a good day. True, the car is not capable of winning, but the aim is to win again before I end my career. I hope that I can end my career with this team and with winning!
Q: Youve seen it all, youve done it all - is there anything in racing that could still surprise you?
RB: I think every time you get surprised. I tell you it was only last week that I saw something that was surprising. I thought with all the rules and the changes at the top management at Ferrari that they wouldnt do it any more after Austria. Last week that really was a big surprise!
Q: What happened at Hockenheim must have rung bells with you. Is Felipe Massa walking in your shoes now? And why is it that Ferrari think they have to lean towards one driver?
RB: You know, at the end of the day - as I just said - the big bosses that I was confronted by at Ferrari have all left. There were differences then and I thought that it would never happen again. And then all of a sudden I see that again. My first emotion was anger - just like everybody else. I didnt like what I saw! As for what makes Ferrari think that they have to act in this manner, I dont know. I can only say that I am happy with where I am. There is nothing like having no problems in a team! I understood and have learned a lot from the past and I am just happy right here right now.
Q: You have raced cars as different as the Jordan of the mid 90s, the Ferrari from 2000 to 2005, a Honda, the Brawn and now the Williams. No one has witnessed more regulation and track changes than you. Is racing still racing?
RB: Yes, many changes - some I liked and others I very much disliked, like when they introduced the grooved tyres. For me that was really a wrong moment - it was terrible to drive on those tyres. But I have been here for such a long time and it makes me so happy that I am still so competitive and at the peak with my speed. I dont think that many people could have done this - physically and mentally. In fact I think more mentally, because it is a question of keeping your mental toughness together and I am so happy nowadays. I am ready for more years, more rules and more different tracks. And was racing better then? I doubt it. The drivers sure were different then - people in F1 in generally. And probably the boss system - the respect was a bit different. But you always had leaders and followers. I have to say that if being F1 champion means that you have to be a bad guy, then no thank you very much. Thats nothing to me and I dont want to be part of that.
Q: You are almost always soft with your criticisms of your team - any of your teams - in public, but there must have been times when you had reasons to complain. How do you handle conflicts?
RB: I wake up in the morning ready to solve any problems. If you bark at someone in public it wont make the relationship any better. Sometimes at the peak of your emotions you dont hold it and that is where the problems start. In general I was always able to fix any problems the gentle, grownup way. And if something really gets to me I talk to myself. I have probably talked to myself a lot!
Q: How is the spirit in the team and how is the situation with your rookie team mate?
RB: With Nico (Hulkenberg) it works pretty well. He is a good lad. He is coping very well with all the pressure on him to perform well and I think hes got the best out of me, so it is a tough moment for him. The morale of the team is high and I hope that by the end of the year we are more competitive and next year can be even faster. There will be upgrades introduced at the next couple of races like in Spa and then later on in the season. I think we will be able to score big points before the season is over. I am very much convinced of it.
Q: You have to go back some years - to 2006 - to see you finishing in the points in Hungary. What do you expect here this time? A Silverstone or a Hockenheim-type result?
RB: I think we have chances to score points here. We have to qualify well and concentrate on the performance at the start - then let it roll and see what we can bring back home.