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How Many Races Has Rubens Barrichello Driven?

How Many Races Has Rubens Barrichello Driven?

Honda driver Rubens Barrichello is due to eclipse the long-standing record of grand prix entries this season, with most reporters saying that the Brazilian will surpass Riccardo Patrese’s 256 starts in Turkey. However, like most things in Formula One, it isn’t quite as straight-forward as you’d think. You may be under the impression that one of the most technologically advanced sports with some of the world’s most intelligent employees and fans would be able to work out a simple addition of participated events. Well, we can’t. Here’s some reasoning behind the confusion.

Barrichello first drove in a Formula One grand prix at the South African event in 1993, driving a Jordan Hart. Rubens completed his first season with the team, racing in all sixteen events and admirably picking up two points in Japan. The following season Barrichello managed a podium at the third round, but the following race in San Marino didn’t go as well. Rubens suffered a huge shunt in free practice, meaning he couldn’t qualify for the event and thus couldn’t start the race. This, in my mind, doesn’t count as a participated grand prix. Rubens’s official site has this race down as a DNQ.

The next bone of contention came in 1998 at the Belgian Grand Prix. Rubens qualified for the race in fourteenth in his Stewart Ford and was on the grid for the start. However, the adverse weather caused a major pile-up as the cars went through the first corner leading to one of the most collectively-expensive accidents in the sport’s history. Barrichello’s Stewart was badly damaged and he couldn’t take the restart after the debris had been cleared. Some people say that Barrichello did not start this race, and his Wikipedia entry states DNS in his record. I however believe that this race should be included. Rubens did start the race; he crossed the start/finish line on lap one and made it to the first corner. Often drivers crash out of a race going through the hazardous turn one at a lot of circuits, but these events are included in their records. I can understand that the race was stopped and then restarted, but importantly, the total distance covered only came to 44 laps, the intended amount in the first place.

Finally we come to Rubens’s 2002 season when he was partnered with Michael Schumacher in the Ferrari. At the Spanish event Barrichello qualified but a hydraulics issue on the formation lap caused the car to stall. The team couldn’t get it restarted and thus Barrichello was wheeled off the grid. He did not start the formation lap and thus did not start the race. Rightly so, this event is not included as a grand prix start.

And as with Spain that season, Rubens suffered another unusual issue in France. His Ferrari was left jacked up on the grid as the order was given to let the cars start the formation lap. Frustratingly, his car couldn’t be started, and again Rubens was forced to sit out of a race. This event is also not included in his total number of starts, having actually failed to start.

Thus, discounting France and Spain in 2002 and San Marino in 1994, Rubens has started 250 races, Australia 2008 will be his 251st and the 257th will be (in my mind) at the Canadian Grand Prix on June 8th. However, much of the media is suggesting the Turkish race as Barrichello’s 257th, leading me to presume they are including the two 2002 races. And to add to the confusion, Barrichello’s official site has both 250 and 252 stated in different parts of the site; even the man himself cannot decide!*

Whatever the race, Barrichello is likely to surpass Patrese’s record and take the record from the Italian this season. When it will happen is anyone’s guess, but I’d like to hear if you have a different definition than me of a race start. Is it just qualifying for a grand prix, starting the formation lap, turning up on the Thursday…

*Correction, see comment #2.

Further Reading

Oliver White

11 comments

  • As far as I’m concerned, if a driver qualifies for a race and leaves the team garage with intent to start the race, he’s started. For the two 2002 races, I consider the driver to have started and the car to have refused to start. I’d even count the 1998 race by my own definition (because he started at the first attempt of the race), though the FIA certainly wouldn’t in its version. San Marino 1994 obviously isn’t a start, since he didn’t even qualify…

  • So from that you (Ali) consider Rubens currently on 252 and will thus succeed Patrese in Turkey.

    I consider intention and achieving as two different things. I imagine all drivers fully intend starting and probably winning the race as they roll out of the garage to take to the grid. But achieving that start, to me, is different.

    It’s interesting how people have different views on what should be black and white. It makes me laugh that even Barrichello cannot decide. 250 or 252?

    Edit: Ah, I’ve read that slightly wrong. Barrichello states on his site ‘252 Entries, 250 Driven’. But then he also has Patrese down as 255. Bloomin’ ‘eck!

  • I would have to agree with you Ollie, to have been deemed to have competed in a race he must have set off from the start and not simply left the garage – even if you only make it 100 yards or whatever.

    With the Spa incident, I think that if the race were say 60 laps and the restart was again run over 60 laps then that brings up a bit of a conundrum – but if the race was reduced by a lap due to the cars having set off and some already completing one lap before the red flags then he most certainly did compete in that race.

  • I think a driver’s started if he moves from the grid/pit-lane when the lights go out. If he stalls or the car fails before the race starts it’s not a start.

    If the race is stopped within two laps and a new start is declared (for the same distance), then any drivers that don’t take the restart don’t get to count that race as a start.

  • I would say that crossing the white line after the lights go out constitutes a race start. Stalling on the grid and not getting it started again, in my mind, would not count.

  • Oliver, since I’m counting three of the four events you’ve mentioned (the two 2002 races plus Spa 1998), I think I’m counting Barrichello’s as having done 253 races. Though given what time it is, I may have done my sums wrong…

  • @Alianora: It is bloomin’ confusing, isn’t it!? 😀 I think I’ll just wait and whatever race Barrichello decides is his 257th (or the race where he surpasses Patrese) will do for me. He could end up having three or four parties though if he ends up listening to us lot!

    Either way Rubens is likely to take the record which is a sort of achievement in itself, one that Michael Schumacher doesn’t have.

    @Don: Regarding the race restarting, I’m with you on that one. Although I’m pretty sure the ’98 Belgian race restarted and ran for a further 43 laps, one less than the scheduled 44 due to the incident on lap one. Of course, I could be very wrong, it was almost eight-and-a-bit years ago. Crikey! I’m getting old.

  • Thanks Michael. I cleaned up the URL to make it fit in the column better.

    Indeed he will become the most experienced, and unless Coulthard or Fisichella manage to keep on going I can’t see his record being broken any time soon. Particularly if Rubens drives for another year or two.

  • OK, back to numbers.

    You call Patrese with 256 races. I think you know that he start in 257 races. He have a DNS at Buenos Aires in 1979.

    If this is how the counter is working, then at this moment we can say that Rubens have 251 starts I substract the DNS and DNQ races from the total of 253.

    This is what I found on my f1 stats page, but I always check the others and they have the same situation. I take a look at the official F1 page, and there at Rubens is 253, but they call it “Grand Prix entered”, and this is a different look at the problem.

    I agree with those who say that we count only those who start. If not perhaps if I will go to a F1 race I will be in the stats with 1 race?!? 😉

  • […] As with Rubens Barrichello earlier in the year, there is some question marks over the actual 500th race; the team’s Wikipedia entry states that Williams have started 512 races, while many paddock insiders say that tomorrow’s charge around Monza is the fifth-century for the squad. Either way, Williams is not normally a celebratory man unless his car has won, so ultimately, it doesn’t matter too much. What does matter is that Williams have been around for a long time, and of the current grid only Ferrari and McLaren have competed in more grands prix. […]

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