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Barrichello in frame at Sauber for 2014
Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Oct 2013   |  3:24 pm GMT  |  78 comments

Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn says that Brazil’s Rubens Barrichello – Formula 1’s most experienced driver – is in contention for a seat at the Swiss team next season.

Barrichello, who has started a record 322 races, finished as championship runner up to then Ferrari team-mate Michael Schumacher in 2002 and 2004.

He left the sport at the end of the 2011 season, with 11 wins and 14 pole positions to his name, after Williams decided not to retain him.

The 41-year-old has since raced in American single-seater series IndyCar and Brazilian stock cars as well as attending several Formula 1 races a TV analyst for Brazilian TV.

Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is keen to have a Brazilian driver in the sport next season and is understood to have been pushing to secure Felipe Massa – the only Brazilian currently on the grid – a seat for next year after the 32-year-old’s Ferrari contract was not extended.

Sauber have yet to confirm their driver line-up for next season, although Formula Renault 3.5 driver Sergey Sirotkin, 18, is expected to take one seat as part of a deal with Russian investors.

That leaves current drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez in contention for the other seat, along with Barrichello and Massa, who made his F1 debut with the Swiss team in 2002.

“There are a couple of options out there,” said Kaltenborn. “We know what he [Barrichello] has – his experience, we know that he’d like to come back. So let’s see.”

Kaltenborn did however rule out Barrichello making a one-off appearance in the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos. She said: “I don’t see any possibility there because we have no reason to change our two drivers for that race.”

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  1. vuelvekowalsky says:

    f1 is a habit harder to drop than heroin.

    1. Tornillo Amarillo says:

      If BARRICHELO wants to keep a record of GPs that could be done by SIROTKIN, VETTEL or any other young lucky driver.

    2. Lee says:

      Yeah buts better for your bank balance

  2. DK says:

    Oh, please let has been remains as has been. If it is a mandate to keep a Brazilian on the grid, then let it be Massa.

    1. Grant H says:

      Bring back rubens!

    2. GPC says:

      Reubens will surely assist Sauber to get their car competitive. Williams had a great season start after he was forced out, and their performance went downhill. Sauber should make sure if they go for Reubens, that the other driver can get wins regularly.

    3. BigHaydo says:

      Is he a has-been though? As late as 2010 he absolutely demolished the same Hulkenberg that seems to get so highly praised on the website…

      1. Sut says:

        Bang on. Unlike Coultard at the back end of his career he hadn’t lost his speed and was a consistent scorer.

        He’d have been a better bet than Maldonado at Williams and like Webber, is a good ambassador. I’d love to see him back.

      2. Marco says:

        Also very close to Button in 2009 when Jenson was champion.

  3. furstyferret says:

    Come on rubens have some dignity, and give it up, its frankly embarrassing and pathetic, move on

    1. forzaminardi says:

      What an awful thing to say. Isn’t he entitled to pursue his profession, just as anyone else is? I’m biased because I love Rubens but even I agree he’d be doing amazingly well to be vaguely competitive as he looks like he’s gained a few pounds. But fair’s fair, he was competitive to the end with Williams and still clearly has the desire to go on.

      1. jakobusvdl says:

        I agree with forzaminardi on this. Sauber will decide if Baracello is quick enough and brings the right skills, financial & profile package. If they think rubinio is quick enough he’s young enough.

    2. Wayne says:

      Well absolutely. Just as WEB is busy telling the world that F1 needs to ensure there is room for star drivers with real tallent in the future, we hear about this shameful nonsense.

  4. Cali says:

    so totally true #truestory

  5. Adam says:

    I love Rubens as a driver, not a huge fan of Massa, but why would you consider a driver who is older and out of F1 over a younger Brazilian who is in F1? If the aim is keeping a Brazilian in F1 this is the wrong choice.

    1. Alexis says:

      Objectively, you may consider Rubens to be the faster
      Of the two going by massa’s form since his accident.

    2. Hugy says:

      Because perhaps Massa won’t like to drive for Sauber, which is not a competitive car.

    3. forzaminardi says:

      Because Rubens is proven to be about 3 billion times better than Massa?

    4. BigHaydo says:

      Regulation changes calls for a firm hand from a technical perspective: Rubens was lauded by Williams for his abilities here, and they wondered aloud why he hadn’t been a champion. Especially if Sauber intend to run a very inexperienced rookie, they will need someone to steer the development in the other car.

  6. Anop says:

    Sauber need a driver who brings sponsorship money to the team. If Rubens can get money from Brazil then why can’t Felipe? Santander is big in Brazil too.

    I think Sauber would end up signing Felipe. But that would mean the Hulk would have to leave as Estaban is likely to get another year with the money he brings. It’ll be fascinating to see what happens.

    1. Tim says:

      Surely if Sauber sign Felipe, then both Hulk and Estaban are out – the young Russian gets the other seat as he comes as part of the package with the Russian money.

    2. tim says:

      Yep. The logic is impeccable yet depressing. Money trumps all including talent and experience.

  7. kevin green says:

    This is exactly what sauber need the likes of rubens for experience/development and a decent young pay driver to hopefully match or deliver the better race day results

  8. Valois says:

    That should be nice!

  9. goferet says:

    On a normal day I would have laughed at the possibility of Rubens making it back to F1 but after the Kimi shocker back to Ferrari, anything is possible, right.

    For sure Sauber need a consistent points scorer and with Rubens with his vast experience, he would be the idle choice more so because Massa’s good form doesn’t look like ever coming back.

    The Rubens move would also benefit the young Sergey as the veteran would show the young gun the ropes.

    The only question mark about Sauber is in terms of financing, am not sure they can afford a none paying driver for they need all the money they can get from pay drivers.

  10. AMSG says:

    Your joking right ? Are they that hard up for cash. Perhaps they can give Deniz (spl) a call. what ever happended to him anyway. He hads lots of money, heard he was going to buy a team at some point (arrows, sauber, serb).

  11. David C says:

    What a waste of a seat that would be, his time has passed and it wasn’t great. Lots of promising youngsters in GP2, current f1 drivers without a seat and out of F1 drivers who should get a chance ahead of digging up a mediocre former driver in his forties.

    1. madmax says:

      The mediocre driver in his last 3 seasons convincingly beat Maldonado, Hulkenberg in their rookie seasons and gave Button a scare towards the end of his title winning year at Brawn.

      1. David C says:

        Rookie seasons in the new limited testing and he spent more time throwing his toys out of the pram than seriously scaring Button. He had a few good years at Ferrari but his moaning always annoyed me as he dragged the team down. Filipe, Kimi, Eddie and even Michael took one for the team and pulled over with minimal fuss to support a team leader at the time so why did Rubens have to make such a big deal about it in Austria.

      2. madmax says:

        I actually agree with everything you said as there is no doubt Barrichello is the biggest whinger I have ever seen in F1.

        Only mentioned because everyone seems to hold Hulkenberg in such high regard. When looked again at Rubens performance against Maldonado it was very close.

      3. petes says:

        Ahh, so a multi-season veteran kicking rookie drivers’ butts is a big deal? Not!!

      4. madmax says:

        Only said because everyone goes on about Hulkenberg as if he’s something really special.

      5. Andrew says:

        He didn’t convincingly beat Maldonado at all. They were closely matched in qualifying and Maldonado would have scored more points but for his accident with Hamilton at Monaco.

        I’m not criticising Barrichello but what you say is wrong.

      6. madmax says:

        My mistake, your right, Barrichello was 10-9 qualifying and 6-5 in races both finished. 4-1 on points also to Barrichello so was very close and if wasn’t Pastor’s rookie year you can bet he would have been ahead of Rubens.

        I was thinking more of the highly rated (personally I think too highly) Hulkenberg in which Rubens did beat convincingly.

    2. KARTRACE says:

      This is called “time travel” if that machine exist.

  12. Valentino from montreal says:

    Barrichello driving for McLaren alongside Button next year would be great competition ..

    Rubens has been always under-rated as a driver ..

    1. Zombie says:

      If anything, Rubens has been severely overrated as a driver. He needed Michael’s help ( Monza and US ) to secure the runner up in F2002. And when the Ferraris lost their competitive edge in 2005, his ability to overcome the challenges of an incompetent car was obvious – when he finished 8th in ths standings compared to Schumi’s 3rd.

      He did no miracles while at Honda for all his “experience”. And in the all conquering Brawns of 2009, he failed to even get the runner up title. He never stopped whining how he was ill-treated at Ferrari, but never made an attempt to explain why he spent over half a decade with that team if he felt so ill handled.

      Its a shame that Sauber has to overlook Massa and hire Rubens. There are tons of talented guys , including the much improved Maldonado, Buemi,Alguessuari and Bianchi.

      What next ? Ralf Schumacher making a comeback too ?

      1. Valentino from montreal says:

        You make a lot of valid points but don’t forget that he was a very good driver in the wet weather conditions and was a better no 2 driver than Coulthard .. Coulthard raced more years in Competetive machinery starting at Williams , then McLaren and afterwards Reb Bull , compared to Jordan , Stewart and afterwards Ferrari in Rubens case …

        Yes Rubens was a huge cry baby and no he could’nt hold a candle next to Michael ( nobody could of anyways ) , BUT I am grateful to Rubens as an MSC fan because without him Michael would’nt of become 2003 world champion ! His win in Suzuka 2003 was what made Michael’s 6 th championship possible !

        I’m willing to say also , IF Rubens would have been driving alongside MSC in 2006 , instead of Massa , strong chance Michael’s life against the 2 Renault’s would of been a lot easier that year and possibly an 8th title for Schumacher ..
        Fisichella was a better no 2 than Massa that year ..

        Barrichello was a better no 2 than Fisichella , in my opinion ….

  13. Glennb says:

    That would be interesting. The worlds most experienced F1 driver along side the worlds most inexperienced F1 driver.
    No pressure Reubens :)
    I personally like the idea of RB coming in to help develop the new car. He could be one hell of a mentor for young Sirotkin too.

    1. Paul Kirk says:

      So do I, Glennb.
      Plus so many of us can relate to Rubens because we’ve followed/known him for so long, where as we struggle with all these unknown no-name young guys. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rubens brings back some of the followers who have lost some interest in F1 in the last couple of years. Welcome back, Rubens!

  14. Dale says:

    Reckon he’s quiet sad really, we get old Ruben’s, time to get a life!

    1. jakobusvdl says:

      Look what he’s done and what he’s doing at the moment. He has a life, and one all of us armchair racerswwould love. If he can get another spell in F1, good luck to him ( and his wonderful life).

  15. Harshad says:

    Current state of Sauber looks to me like;
    “Show me the money honey” :)

  16. luqa says:

    Oh please Rubens, you are over the hill at 41. Put your ego aside and let a younger driver- even Massa take the seat. F1 is a young man’s game. Your reactions are just too slow.

    If you can’t give up driving, buy your own team to satisfy your ego, or go LMP racing. You couldn’t even set the Nascar and Indy world on fire with you diminishing talents.

  17. Andrew M says:

    It really is still silly season…

  18. Paul D says:

    Which one brings the most money is the key question?

  19. AuraF1 says:

    Reuben’s was always a better driver than he got credit for and if he has the hunger still he’ll probably destroy Sirotkin but if it’s a choice of Brazilians Massa is nearly a decade younger and still has several years of quality left – I think most agree he’ll do better away from the pressure of Ferrari and the mental flattening of Alonso. If Sauber build even a half decent car I wouldn’t doubt Massa doing better in that than most of his recent Ferrari performances.

  20. Paul says:

    I enjoyed all the times Rubinho raced in F1. When he had a competitive seat the guy was awesome. Outside of the car he has the kindest and most fun, approachable personality.

    But, is he right for F1 now? Sorry, I don’t think so. He can ‘race’ and is still ‘quick’ but the best times are behind him. It could be another MSC midfield, occasional points return that somewhat dulls an otherwise great career. Best left and remembered with fondness.

    Maybe a drive in Formula E – there is where his talents could really show, if he got plugged in and charged up. That would be great.

    Or join WEB in a competitive sportscar team. I would gladly watch him excel in either.

  21. Lee says:

    Why oh why oh why are they not looking at Emerson Fittipaldi if they want a Brazilian? He’s only 66 for crying out loud. In fact why not bring back Prost, Mansell, and Jackie Stewart? They could call it GP Masters, why hasn’t anyone thought of that before?

    1. Random 79 says:

      Er…someone has – It was in one of the comments someone put up a while back.

      Still a good idea though, love to see it happen :)

      1. Lee says:

        Yes it’s called sarcasm. I was there Silverstone rained for 3 days Mansell did 2 laps, whole thing went bust after that – lesson for Sauber perhaps.

        Good to see that one went sailing over your head.

      2. Random 79 says:

        Not my fault you can’t aim ;)

  22. Random 79 says:

    It would be great to see Rubens back, but surely Massa would be the better bet?

    I can’t see the motivation for Rubens either: Why would he come back to F1 just to end up tooling around in the midfield?

  23. James says:

    Alain Prost is free next year.

    1. But he only wants to race in a competitive car!

    2. RogerD says:

      I’m free next year if they want me, too.

      I’m more than happy to become a Brazilian citizen if I that’s the criteria.

      I’m not prepared to have one of those other Brazilians though…

  24. KARTRACE says:

    Desperate times require desperate measures. If MS couldn’t succeed in his 2nd F1 career it would be interesting to learn how RB fairs. Wrong move ?

  25. WellBalanced says:

    Surely not…

    If it’s a Brazilian, then Massa, the 2008 champ in all but name.

    Presumably they could carry the same funding.

    Sauber suddenly have the feel of Williams (recently) about them, making odd largely financed based decisions.

  26. jeffrey says:

    Oh come on, this is silly. He is being considered, that is all that is being said, apparently because he brings in some cash. But is this news? It would definately be the wrong choice: he is too old, has been 2 years out (look at the hard time Schumacher had, and Rubens was never as good as him). As others have written as well, he has had his fair chance, he was a good driver, but his last years in the difficult Williams were lacklustre, if you look at his performance against his teammates.

    I hope to see Massa given a year or two, just to see what he could do in another team, as a team leader. He is a hard worker, and I hope to see him flourish once more.

  27. Rob Newman says:

    There are enough young talent in F1 at the moment. Rubens had his time in F1 and is well past his sell by date. The only reason Sauber wants him back is he is bringing several million dollars. What is happening to F1, honestly?

  28. Keith says:

    It is an interesting situation. One has to wonder what sort of sponsorship package Massa has, and more importantly, which Massa turns up each week to race. He can really blow hot & cold on certain days. As for Barrichello, he is noted as a good development driver, with strong feed back to engineers.
    Given the rule changes, and that Sauber will have Ferrari power next year, Ferrari need to make sure that Sauber don’t damage the “Brand” – Ferrari, and if one does look at the proposed Ferrari line up for 2014, none of these two drivers are noted for their development work with the engineers.

    I think Ferrari will be working in the background to bring in one of these two or maybe both of them, to speed up and help with the problem solving of the engine power plant package which might have. I would put the Russian in as a Friday driver to gain experience & mileage.

    One could say that Massa has had one too many chances to prove himself in F1, and Barrichello is maybe too old, but what you can’t argue about is the experience both of these people have and the link back to Ferrari, plus Bernie appears to want a Brazilian on the grid in 2014. (What Bernie asks for, he normally gets)

    Ferrari does look to have “placed” Jules Bianchi for another year, and they will also have Ferrari power. That is another year of experience, ready for the works team, if all goes well for him.

    1. Keith says:

      One thing of interest was the subject of driver’s weight & height.
      I knew that F1 drivers had to be super fit, but until I read the weight and height of the current crop of drivers and the problems they are having in keeping down there weight. Well that did surprise me. But it really shouldn’t have because James has talked enough on radio and TV in the past about how much fuel weighs in the car and once the fuel load goes down we see the car working better.

      But now the drivers are openly talking about asking the FIA to raise the car’s limit so that bigger – taller – heavier drivers have a chance in F1. They talked about one German driver losing out, because he maybe too tall and heavy yet seems extremely capable and talented, yet has trouble in getting a drive in a top line team, maybe due to his weight & height.

      Of course Lewis has to pipe up and say he wants to put on more weight – more muscle, and his team haven’t told him to lose weight.

      So this driver merry go round – with Massa or Barrichello in a Sauber, or both could actually come down to the weight & height of the driver. Looking in the past, Sauber have had smaller drivers.

  29. deci1668 says:

    Just watched the Izod Indycar 2012 season. It wasnt a great season for Rubens. Well i didnt expect big things from him on the ovals but even on street circuits he wasnt doing too well. Best finish was a 4 th in Sonoma where almost half of the field crashed out. I really wanted to see him at least get a podium. Well considering what Mansell did there i hoped for more.
    All the best for him in the future but please let F1 go

  30. Jiri says:

    C’Mon this is a joke… what experience, he was two years away from F1 and things change quickly… Even Schumacher found it difficult to come back.. not to mention that he was not successful in Indycar… so leave him where he is , he had his chances, there are many younger drivers who deserve a shot much more

    1. Lee says:

      He’s got loads of experience of making up the numbers, just what Sauber need as this is all they exist to do as well. It’s a perfect match.

  31. Nick4 says:

    As likeable as Rubens is, F1 needs young drivers. He has had his innings and very respectable one at that. If F1 needs a Brazilian as the Conductor deems, then let it be Felipe.

  32. Lachlan Mackinnon says:

    Good luck to both Sirotkin and Barrichello I say! If I had the opportunity to drive in F1 or add another season to a long career, then it is a no brainer.
    But as a long term supporter of F1 I do worry about the bigger picture and the decisions teams are having to make. I have been lucky to watch the likes of Senna, Prost, Piquet, Mansell, Schumacher, Hakkinen, Raikkonen, Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel……you get the picture.
    Pay drivers have been around for a long time but it seems more prevelant than ever at the moment. What super talents are being denied an opportunity? Rubens has had his time and I can’t see Sirotkin lasting more than 5 minutes (I do hope I am wrong here but unlikely).
    The key point – F1 must find a way to keep putting the best drivers on the grid. If the playing field doesn’t allow this then people will move on and switch to another category! I for one hope this doesn’t happen. My fingers are crossed……

  33. Bru72 says:

    Come on for goodness sake, give a new young driver a chance. Rubens, stop blocking progress.

  34. Jon_C says:

    This is the problem with F1. They hang on to ‘Experienced drivers’ who are well past it. give the up and comers a go, a rookie. You never know what you mite find. look at MOTOGP, straight away young guys into top teams. Makes it exciting

  35. forzaminardi says:

    Ignoring the very poorly informed comments above and looking at the man – here’s a guy who eats sleeps and breathes motor racing. For all his detractors, the fact remains that in his prime he was one of the very best F1 drivers of his era, and extraordinarily talented in the rain. The fact of his career’s longevity and the response of the whole pitlane when he won in Valencia in 2009 is testament to his popularity – and in F1 you don’t get recognition like that unless you’re really good. I don’t agree that drivers should be shunted out just because they’re old or had a couple of seasons under their belt, and in this case, the return of Rubens would just add to the extraordinary legend that is his career. I hope and pray this comes to pass.

    Acelera Rubinho!

  36. DK says:

    Hey, isn’t this the guy who openly advised Massa there is life beyond F1 ?

  37. Chris says:

    James, any chance of the Hulk returning to Force India?

  38. Marty says:

    Ecclestone has got to quit stirring up driver movements, that is the most pathetic aspect here for me. If Sauber or any other team can value any driver enough to put him in the car then so be it. Both Massa and Barrichello regardless of their nationality will have some value to any team and I would be eager to see either one of them on the grid.

  39. Daniel Aquilina says:

    Seriously?? Massa is going to be forced out of F1 because of his ‘friend’. Rubens has had his career, Massa still has a bit to go, give Massa the drive.

  40. Kenneth M'Boy says:

    F1 cars and tracks are getting easier to drive these days so why not put Rubens in for another year. He’s still quick and 41 is not too old to be competitive in motor racing, Look at Schumacher for example and also Emerson Fittipaldi in the 90′s in Indycar, which was then a much harder and renowned series than it has unfortunately become today.
    It will also help secure Sauber’s financial situation also. While the entry of Russian money is welcome in the sport, with the little history they have in Formula One we don’t know if they will remain or fade away if success is not forthcoming.

  41. Gary says:

    What’s the matter, did Monisha lose Emerson Fittipaldi’s phone number?

  42. glen says:

    I know this question is off topic, but does anyone know how much Schumacher weighed during his comeback?

  43. ok not to related , but is there any news on Robert Kubica returning ?

    will he ever return ? is it to late ? maybe nto to this team , but others ?

    see hes doing well in rallying


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