Barrichello: We’ve had a terrible year
22 September, 2011
Sep.22 (Reuters) He has started more races than anyone else in Formula One, but it is more than just years on the clock that Rubens Barrichello offers the sport, he told Reuters as he looks towards his 20th year in motor racing.
Still to agree terms with his Williams F1 team for next season, the 39-year-old Brazilian will be at the wheel for a record 321st grand prix in Singapore this weekend.
Yet despite having racked up almost two decades in an F1 cockpit, Barrichello insists he is in the shape of his life and has more than ever to bring to the table.
“I am physically better than I was when I was 18… I really am, it is true,” he smiled.
“You can see it. Every year you have to put yourself onto tests and you have numbers and they monitor the way you breathe and the way you sweat so, I am in great shape.
“The (Williams) team is changing engines, personnel is changing so… I think I have a lot to give to the team,” the Brazilian told Reuters in an interview.
“It is not just experience… because if you have experience but no speed then it is nothing. If you have speed and no experience it is actually better… but what I can offer the team is my speed — and the experience comes gratis.
Drained by jet-lag after a long flight from Brazil, Barrichello lights up when he speaks of the sport he says he has loved since he was six-years-old.
“I think it is a love and a passion for the speed,” he smiled… “in all honesty I am talking to the team to see if I can race next year.
“I am still in love with the sport, I don’t know what I can do to live without that speed… I am enjoying it more and more.
“I am committed to race until the passion is not there.”
Barrichello has seen a great number of changes — some good, some not so good, he says — since making his debut with the Jordan team in 1993. The sport, though, is just as tough.
“Formula One went through a lot of changes, but the position is pretty much the same, the steering wheel is pretty much the same, although I had one button in ’93 and now I have 22. So… I have to press a little bit more,” he laughed.
“People argue that it is easier to change gears on the hand rather than a lever, but with that the cars became faster so you have more G-forces on the body so it is worse in terms of physically coping with it so it is no easier or harder, it is just different.
“Cars go faster, and every year they (race officials) tend to do something different to slow them down, but engineers are so clever they just make it faster and off we go… we are breaking records every track we go to.
“When I started we had V12 engines, and then I raced V10 for most of my career and then we have V8 and then we go V6 and we are still going to beat lap times.”
This season has been one of the less memorable for Barrichello, who was championship runner-up to then-Ferrari team mate Michael Schumacher in 2002 and 2004.
His Williams team sits ninth in the 12-team standings with just five points for the season. Leaders Red Bull top the table with 451 points.
“We had a terrible year,” Barrichello said.
“There was lots of things that the team concentrated on, such as the lower gear box… it was not that they did not pay attention… but with the changing tyre and some of the other teams being better prepared they (rival teams) were able to do a better job.
“Our car is not bad to drive but it is just not quick enough, so we just try to develop, we try to get to the rhythm of the top guys, but it has not been good enough.
“So with the new personnel, they are creating a new machine with a different engine and so I think it is going to be a lot better.”
This weekend’s grand prix would be a big test for the team, Barrichello said, with the Singapore circuit especially challenging for the mechanics.
“The set-up of the car needs to be really good here… for you to see the degradation of the tyres go the way you want, the combination of the low and the high speed plus the bumpiness of the track makes it very, very difficult to set up the car. So all of that combined makes it very, very special.
“I do very much like this race. It is very, very different,” the Brazilian added. “It is like before HD TV… that is the image we have at night.
“You don’t see everything, with the street and the bumps, you don’t see every aspect of the circuit, but it is a pretty good view of everything. It is just good fun.
“The track the first year was a little bumpy but they have made it very good. And it is good racing, good strategies and in a great place, a great city.”