I hope you are as delighted as me to see from recent testing times that Rubens Barrichello’s F1 career, instead of going out with a whimper, now shows strong signs of continuing with a roar.
I have always considered him generally underrated and, occasionally, outstanding. After all, how many other team-mates did Michael Schumacher have who could genuinely and consistently match his pace?
Indeed some of the greatest drives of the modern F1 era have belonged to Rubens and the only reason we don’t rate them more highly today is because they were usually overshadowed by other stuff.
His performance in the rain at Monaco in an uncompetitive Stewart in 1997 reduced his team-owner to tears in the pit-lane, and would have been remembered as one of the drives of all time had he come first, rather than second.
At Silverstone in 2003 he claimed pole, fastest lap, victory and overtook Raikkonen’s McLaren making everyone, including Schumacher. look ordinary. But the event is now mainly remembered for the track invasion by a defrocked Irish priest. And how many of us watching Ayrton Senna’s legendary drive from fourth to first on the opening lap of the 1993 European Grand Prix at Donington also noticed a young Brazilian in only his third F1 race rising from 12th to 4th on exactly the same lap? Amazing also to think there’s a current F1 driver who once also shared grid space with the likes of Prost, Patrese and Brundle. Rubens is already the most experienced F1 driver in the history of the sport and if he can keep his Brawn seat for next season as well, will rack up his 300th F1 appearance. An astonishing milestone by any measure, but one the thoughtful, fun and unaffected Brazilian will reach entirely on merit.