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Barrichello offers wisdom of the man who moved over
Barrichello offers wisdom of the man who moved over
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Sep 2010   |  7:38 pm GMT  |  83 comments

It’s easy to forget that Rubens Barrichello is a three times winner of the Italian Grand Prix, including last season at the wheel of the Brawn car.

This year he is unlikely to be among the contenders, but the Williams team is optimistic of getting at least one car into Q3 tomorrow.

Barrichello won last year in Monza (Darren Heath)

In light of what has been going on this week with the Ferrari team orders situation, Barrichello’s point of view as the man who moved over for Michael Schumacher on one or two occasions is enlightening.

I spoke to him in Spa and caught sight of an interview he did in Gazzetta dello Sport this weekend, which offers some thoughts on his experiences. So here are the best of the quotes.

On the subject of team orders he said, “It disturbed me to relive something which I had in my skin years before. I never thought it would be repeated.” He recalls that infamous race in Austria 2002, after which the team orders ban came in as “Eight las of hell, in which I was subjected to intense pressure. In the end I did what I did thinking that I would get some benefits, but I never got them.”

“I spent six seasons (at Ferrari) to earn respect. In the end I had to leave the team a year earlier than planned because Michael was everything; he had the spare car, first call on strategy. I would never have left, but I just wasn’t getting the right treatment.”

His words sound prophetic. He is close to Felipe Massa and one wonders whether these thoughts are passing through his mind at the moment. Sometimes you have to leave.

Alonso is “one of the best, if not the best driver around at the moment,” according to Rubens.

His final thoughts are on Williams, a team which has gone 100 races without a win, but is not in decline, according to its veteran driver.
“What’s missing? Details. There are competent people there, a beautiful wind tunnel, all that needs changing is the base concepts of how to develop the car. For five years now they have had poor drivability.”

You get the sense that Rubens knows how to fix that. The 2011 Williams will be worth keeping an eye on. The team is listening. And at this time of his career, that’s what he wants more than anything else.

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Rubens deserves at least one more win before he retires. A little compensation for the years he let Schumacher win some races


I think Massa will improve next year.


Well said, and its the facts about Rubens. We are not here to comment goody goody statements and false praises.When I commented here he cried and sobbed till they took it out. I love the sense of humor@Tom Baker, and the facts about Rubens well said@Peter,Mo Kahn and again Tom.


What wisdom can he possibly offer Massa??? How to effectively cry first and then take out Fernando Alonso? :))


Yes Rubens. You had such a torrid time at Ferrari that you ONLY spent 6 seasons there. You may get the sympathy vote from others but you’er not getting it from me.

He never quite remembers the times Schumacher held back to let him win. Italy 2002, Hungary 2002, Europe 2002, China 2004 – the list is endless.


Barrichello complains too much.

Last year he threw a hissy fit because he got it into his head that Brawn was favoring Button.

He left Ferrari, the most dominant team ever, for Honda? And spent how many years in the worst car on the grid? And that was preferable to finishing second to Schumacher?

A pattern emerges. When Rubens is in a non-contender like Williams, Honda, Jordan, etc, he’s happy just to be driving. No expectations, no pressure. Making Q3 is a podium.

When he’s in a contender and can’t beat his teammate he looks for excuses. Nothing is ever his fault, it’s always somebody else who caused the crash.


Sour grapes by Rubens if he’s that good, why didn’t he beat Jenson Button (who’s hardly a driver of Schumacher’s ilk) last year, presumably no one was given number one status at Brawn last year. Get a grip Rubens did you sign Ferrari contracts with your eyes closed.


O.K. Barrichello if you were wise you would never sign up in the first place. 20 years 0 Titles. That is a great achievement. No where close to Schumacher. Anywhere, now it is time for you to relate all those sad stories of F1 to your great grand children. Safe racing and no crying.


Does anyone know if it’s true that Rome has just signed a five year deal to host F1 from 2012


I find it great that Rubens is finally getting to lead a team the way he wants it. And I believe Williams will benefit quite a lot from his experience from other teams. With that being.said he was never consistently as quick as Michael in Ferrari. But you need to remember that all the development was prioritized after what Michael needed. I believe it would be quite hard telling the team that you need to develop certain characteristics from the car for Rubens to be quick, when a man having been there 4 years and won a championsip says “no no, I need it to be as it is” . As for Jenson beating Rubens the first half of the season with him trailing second. Remember Rubens had problems finding the optimum biting point for the brakes. They changed the brake characteristics halfway through the season. And Rubens was consistently beating Jenson after that. Really looking forward to see what he can do with Williams next year as they are a proper team that deserves a break from the dry spell they have encountered the last years.


I am really glad that Rubens is still driving, and look forward to his performances for as long as he stays in F1.

Let’s not forget that moment, a year ago, when he drove in the pitlane, as the Monza winner, to the applause of every single mechanic in the paddock. There are prima-donna drivers, nice guys and everything in between in F1, but Rubens is the nicest of the nice guys out there…

…which means that, when he has something RUDE to say about a team or a driver, I, for one, hang on to his every word – and I’m a Schumi fan!


There’s more to being de facto #2 than just having to let your team mate past when he’s got more power.

Johnny Herbert tells a story of when he outqualified MS. From that time on he was not allowed access to MS’ set-up information and readouts, although the reverse was not true. So the stats show the MS was a faster driver. I wonder if MS took that deal to his next team.

Williams have a history of favouring one driver over the other. Mansell complained of getting inferior engines compared to Honda’s favourite, Piquet. This was rubbished by the team and Honda, and in was the start of the press calling NM whinger. It was some time later that Honda admitted to tuning the engines to suit the different ‘characteristics’ of the drivers. Mansell, it seemed, needed less BHP. That’s a dodgy characteristic for any driver. So perhaps Nige didn’t whinge enough.

I remember Mansell using the spare car, set up for Piquet, in a race and being so much faster than in his own. And the sister car as well. It was apparent that despite what many believed (I hope I wasn’t on my own), Mansell, in equal machinery, was the equal of Piquet and at times significantly better.

Drivers bring money to a team. The Spanish connection is important to Ferrari. Upsetting Alonso meant upsetting Santander and that cost McLaren dear. Such politics are a fact of life. It has gone on for years. But there is a big difference between favouritism and ordering drivers to pull over.

What this shows is that in the times of the Schumacher, Brawn, Todt and the others at Ferrari the WDCs were team victories. The same goes for many other teams. There have been all too few times of the Mansell/Piquet, Senna/Prost, Alonso/Hamilton banging wheels and heads in equal machinery.

I can’t see Frank Williams staying in charge of the team for much longer. He has a valuable asset that he will probably want to realise. The question is whether Patrick Head would want to take over officially. If he doesn’t then who would? It will probably go to the highest bidder.

FW is the longest serving team manager in the pitlane. Every other team has undergone such significant changes that they are, in effect, new teams. It will be a sad day when he and Head are permanently missing from the pits. They are real enthusiasts for the sport.

They appear to have got into bed with the FIA. Fair enough they have a big investment with them. But what was the point of the letter to the WMSC?

RB said to you:

“All that needs changing is the base concepts of how to develop the car. For five years now they have had poor drivability.”

Is that a bit of a dig, James? If so there is little doubt where it is aimed.

Rubens has changed. His response to being nearly put into the pitwall by MS was excellent. I like this new, chatty RB. He certainly seems happier than he’s been for some time.

I’ve always, at least after Clark, supported teams rather than drivers. I find the talk of stas proving which driver is better all rather pointless. We all too infrequently have enough evidence.


With all the respect due to these Barrichello and Massa as F1 drivers, who’s fault is it they are number two drivers?

Alonso has made Massa his bitch, Schumacher did the same to Barrichello.

Can you imagine Prost, Schumacher (first career) or Alonso moving over for their team mates?

It’s up to the drivers to use everything in their power to become world champions. That is the distinction between a multiple world champion and a quick driver.

Its the same reason Hamilton appears so uncomfortable on TV, he wants to appear a nice guy, but he knows that deep within him is the heart of a calculating bastard.

So, all the controversy about team orders and everyone feeling sorry for Mass and Barrichello. They are the ones at fault here. They don’t have the killer instinct and it shows in their careers.

Webber, has aptly demonstrated what a driver needs to do in order to not become sidelined and thought of as a number two driver. Although he is unlikely to win many championships he has played the game far better than Massa or Barrichello ever did.

Its easy to look at F1 grid and say who would move over and who wouldn’t. It might be team orders but the drivers still have to enact them.


i find it strange that RUBENS thinks that ALONSO is THE BEST formula one driver around.


a driver who needs team orders in order to help overtake a better performing ream mate is TO ME NOT REALLY that good

ADRIVER who needs help to MANIPULATE a race win like what come about during the Renault singaporegate? scandal IS to not that good either…

AM not rooting for HAMILTON but think of this way ..he turned a dog of a car in 2009 into a reliable race winning car after many struggles…and to date he is one of the few drivers on the grid who really tries push no matter what the car is un able to deliver….

i strongly believe that IF you gave HAMILTON that under performing HISPANIA or VIRGIN RACING CAR he IS CAPABLE OF PUSHING those cars to a respectable finishing positions to the end of any race.


In my years of watching F1 Ruebens has always seemed like the unluckiest driver in the paddock.

Whenever TV run a pre-race feature on Ruebens going for a home win or his 300th GP etc he always seems to end up with a DNF.

They say you make your own luck so perhaps he tries too hard to live up to the billing and maybe he takes too many risks to prove himself a natural number one.

Undeniably he’s a good driver, he did outclass Schumi on occasions but he’s never dominated a really good teammate and he was never a master at getting the good out of a bad car like Hamilton last year or Alonso in the Renault years.

In the final analysis he’ll be remembered as a good guy. A Ricardo Patrese kinda guy, there a long time, always a talking point in a race but never quite up there with whoever the fastest guys on the grid are.


Off Topic – The crash Vettle had last time out at Spa, could that of been caused by the Red Bull driver taking his hand off the steering to use the F-duct which most team have to do,except McLaren?? I mean if he did that & due to it being a damp track as well, it may have caused him to lose control at that speed??

Anyways, back on topic, I’m disgusted with the outcome of the decision by the WMSC, not only did the team get away with breaking the team order rule, Massa got away with being half a car length advantage at the start of the Spa GP…. this isn’t Formula One anymore, it’s the Ferrari Show & their rules…. it’s put a very nasty taste in my mouth & I’m seriously considering not watching it anymore….

Like Button says he’ll quit if they allow team orders, I’ll quit watching if they do, it won’t be racing anymore, it’ll be tactical defending & if thats the case, what is the point in any teams having 2 drivers, they may as well allow 24 teams with 1 driver per team, at least that way we’ll get to see proper Grand Prixs instead of the Ferrari show!!!


Which crash? You have to be specific.


Sorry, I thought he only had 1 crash in the SPA race, the one with Button which sent Button out of the race.. the others weren’t really crashes, yes he had contact but it wasn’t a crash.. is that specific enough???


I would definitely buy a copy of his autobiography – IF it dishes the dirt on the stomping donkeys.


I don’t undestand why we are discussing Rubens’ position in his Ferrari-days, the guy earnt so much money, we, normal persons couldn’t even imagine. Please stop before you call him ‘poor’. Think about it. He knew he was treated as a 2nd driver when he signed those contracts -6 years!

Nevertheless, great to have him still on the track, together with Schumi. They ones raced the legend Ayrton Senna.


james, must say the pic is “awesome”, it looks more like an art 🙂 that’s master photography. it truely made me happy 🙂 thanks


I second that. An absolutely awesome image. I really like the fact that excellent images, at good resolution/size, are available here on JAF1.



Go to for a full selection


be sure to tell him his blog also rocks!


I’ll tell Darren – he’s sitting next to me!


Well al i can say regarding Felipe

I think it will be very difficult for Felipe, because he had something what Rubens didn’t. Equal treatment when pairing with kimi. unfortunately he only reacted to Kimi once he had already won the title and didn’t really seem to care as much (or should i say even less).

While Alonso is as Scumacher somebody who doesn’t just give up. If Kimi didnt care and with that was giving Felipe space, Alonso will not give him that. He made that very clear in the first few races.


When Rubens was a guest in Top Gear a couple of months ago, he was insisting that when he signed his Ferrari contract (and its extensions) there was no specific clause saying he was the team’s no. 2 driver. Also, in past interviews I remember him saying that his contract was similar to Michael’s in that one part of it says they need to put Ferrari’s interests first and follow team orders (see I think on his part, Rubens was being naive and too optimistic in that he thought he could easily match and outdo Michael; that all he needed was a competitive car. He underestimated to 7-time (then a 2-time) world champion.

It’s just that Rubens’ performance is like this: on a great day he is unbeatable, on a good day he’s quick, on an average day he’s just in the upper mid-field and on a horrid day he’s no where. Whereas Michael was always up there fighting in the top 3. And the thing is, Rubens showed the same sort of performance inconsistencies when he was Jenon’s team-mate last year. He (Barrichello) was all over the place and failed to capitalize on the Brawn’s early advantage. And although he was majestic in the latter part of the season (whereas Jenson was quite average), it was all too late. By that stage, the title was more or less decided; which was probably why Ross Brawn allowed him to win because he (Ross) knew deep down that Rubens had come in a little too late and that all Jenson had to do was stick close.

These sort of inconsistencies, and perhaps a lack of initiative, was what – in my belief – relegated Rubens to no. 2 status in Ferrari and to some extent in Brawn GP. He just couldn’t put in an awe inspiring performance week-in-week-out to convince the team he was championship material. His performance levels were too unpredictable and perhaps he showed a lesser sort of commitment compared to Michael who quite frankly, lived, breathed and ate F1 during those years.

He was a good back up though (far superior compared to Irvine), which is why you can probably say he contributed heavily to Michael and Ferrari winning all those WDCs & WCCs, respectively. And credit too, to Michael for foreseeing this when he gave his 2 cents worth on whether to hire the Brazilian or not… and another proof of why Rubens was never quite the man at Ferrar: Schumacher already knew of Rubens’ capabilities and limits even before he joined the Scuderia.

Completely the opposite of Fernando Alonso, who has seized the initiative at Ferrari and convinced them that he was the man to take them to their next title.


Did Schumacher really have his ‘2 cents’ on hiring Barrichello? (if so very interesting),not heard that before & surpising that a driver would have an input on his future team mate.

Barrichello strikes me as a thoroughly decent kind of guy, maybe he has been too nice over the years in a sport where you have to be ruthless & this has held him back? (although I do rememeber a certain very public rant after the German GP in 2009, perhaps he was making up for lost time…Ross Brawn was behind Austria & also his perceived loss in Germany in his view)

I wonder if he now regrets moving over in austria and wishes he hadn’t done it (did it really do him any favours?)

Maybe he should have taken a leaf out of Webber’s no nonsense book – that man isn’t for turning!!

I have to say he is without doubt one of my favourite drivers to watch & certainly being interviewed – I like his blend of honesty & good natured humour & I thought the way he conducted himself after the most recent Schumacher incident was tremendous and showed great dignity & maturity – what a top guy!


Rubens is now showing his quality. Helping to bring Williams back to the forefront of F1 racing is his true calling. Keep going. Both deserve each other.


It’s ironic that Rubens’s own boss wrote a letter to the FIA in support of Ferrari and wants team orders allowed in full.


Ironic indeed


Would Rubens have a problem if he was the assigned no 1 driver?


James, given that your forum is moderated, is there really a place for this sort of trolling comment? Why was it not refused? In what way does it add to the debate?

And before anyone mentions it, despite my nickname this is nothing to do with the subject of these comments (I support certain other drivers too – who I also believe are true racers – at least as much).



I fully agree with you “Keyfob” re. stupid posts, also the offensive ones that sometimes slip through.I don’t know what those bloggers are going to do now that Big Brother has finished.

By the way (BTW), did anyone see FP3 at Monza,with Alonso holding his hand out of the cockpit when he was about 100m behind Kobayashi out of the Parabolica as if to say “This idiot has ruined my lap”. There was no obstruction even aerodynamically. Drama Queen.


Yes, I second this. Can the above comment be removed?

Intelligent comments or nothing please, that’s what makes this forum great.


Funny, isn’t it? Williams, the team that only accepted drivers tough as iron, ready to go to extremes on their own in order to win their team’s respect first, races and championships afterwards. Barrichello, the charged-up latin who could never recover from emotional blows such as the indifference of people aroun him. Yet they’re still the perfect couple this year.

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