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Should Rubens Barrichello Retire From Formula One?

Should Rubens Barrichello Retire From Formula One?

He’s raced in 267 grands prix, enjoyed 9 wins, 13 pole positions and accrued 530 points in 16 years of competing in Formula One. With two second-places in world championships and one third, Rubens Barrichello will pass the grand age of 37 next season. But should the former Jordan, Stewart and Ferrari driver retire gracefully from Honda and racing, allowing a young hotshot the chance to prove himself? Or should the Brazilian driver continue competing for another year?

Rubens Barrichello has enjoyed a long career in Formula One (the longest, in fact), and he was once hailed as the second Ayrten Senna in the making. Unfortunately for Barrichello, luck hasn’t always been on his side, but great drives in the under-funded Jordan and Stewart teams allowed his ability to shine. A promotion to Ferrari came in 2000, but Michael Schumacher was unbeatable during the team’s dominant era. Ever the team player though, Barrichello stood by and watched his team mate win five successive driver’s titles before finally switching teams at the end of Schumacher’s run.

Finding a new home at Honda wasn’t the best of moves, but at the time Rubens found few other options available. With the announcement of former Ferrari Technical Director Ross Brawn to the team chief role at Honda, many thought the fortunes of the Brackley-based squad would see an improvement. However, while many are hopeful the performance of the team will improve, they certainly didn’t during the 2008 campaign.

In Rubens’s first year at Honda, he was outscored by his team mate Jenson Button, but the car was reasonably competitive when everything came good and Barrichello managed a consistent season, finishing on 30 points. 2007 was a let down though for all those involved, and although it was the Brazilian’s first ever point-less campaign, Button’s wasn’t much better with a pitiful 6 points. For 2008, the performance slumped again although Barrichello managed to outscore Button for the first time since their pairing. A fine podium at Silverstone boosted Barrichello’s haul to 11 points, considerably more than Button’s 3.

Honda are due to test two young GP2 drivers later this month (Senna and Di Grassi), and many Formula One insiders are saying that the writing is on the wall for Rubens. It’s also worth mentioning that the team’s CEO Nick Fry has stated that he will “bring some fresh blood into Formula One” next year, strongly hinting that Barrichello will be replaced.

Do you think Nick Fry is right to bring in a younger driver for 2009, or do you think Barrichello still has some fight in him? Would Honda be taking an unnecessary risk by retiring Barrichello’s wealth of experience, or would they do good by letting a younger and perhaps more hungry driver into the cockpit?

Oliver White

11 comments

  • Barrichello has certainly held his own at Honda, although I don’t know how much he actually brings to the team.

    Ultimately, I don’t think he will retire until he has to, and that will be when Honda don’t require his services anymore.

  • To not bring in Bruno Senna would be advertising madness, the name is worth more than is worth sighing him, whether he does a Michael Andretti or not were have to wait and see. But here`s to a long future of great racing.

  • I think he should stay on another year if he can. Button stated it right out, he’s got experience and talent when it comes to car setup and Honda certainly needs that.

    I can’t forget that Barrichello scored more points than Button this year. To me, Barrichello isn’t washed up, not just yet.

  • I think he should retire because there is not much he can do to the team. If Honda hasn’t learned since he moved then is not worth being in f1. Senna or Di Grassi will fit fine. I dont think he will retire but after next season.

  • I think Barrichello is not yet ready to retire but whetehr he stays on will depend on several factors

    a) the feeling Honda will have about their new car. if they feel the car is good, they may not feel they meed Barrichello. If they feel the car is **** they may think twice about letting the xperienced guy go. they have the luxury of time on their side. Barrichello has nowhere else in F1 to go (OK, perhaps Toro Rosso) so they can pretty much wait till the very last moment to confirm their 2009 drivers.

    b) the new blood – Honda does need some fresh blood, they haven’t had any for … for how long ? let’s say since Sato replaced Villeneuve all those years back. as the team is starting from zero again they may well go for a rookie. if at least one of the young Brazilians does not disappoint during testing Barrichello may be in trouble.

    c) sponsorship – with the global economy the way it is Honda would probably like to start getting bigger chunk of their budget from sponsors. the new sponsors may have their preferences and some say. but with the biggest new arrival being Petrobras and all 3 potential drivers being Brazilian that may not play that big a role, unless of course it is Senna name they are after.

    But when it comes to mentioning fresh blood, how about Mr Nick Fry ? How much good has he achieved during his time with the team ?

  • Of the two existing Honda drivers I would keep Barrichello in preference to Button. Barrichello has proved that on his day he can beat Schumacher in a straight race. What has Button ever proved?

    Honda claim to have an advantage with their KERS system abd whether that is real or imagined may not matter when it comes to saving Rubens’s career. THe KERS systems are significantly heavier than Max’s theoretical (fanciful) figures released at the announcement of KERS. Given that the rear tyres are deliberately under-specced the teams need to be able to move ballast forward to move the centre of gravity forward. This also allows them to move the centre of aerodynamic pressure forward.

    Rubens is the heaviest of the current drivers and therefore his car has less moveable ballast. Add in 60kg of KERS and you have to take of 60kg of ballast which is a higher percentage of Barrichello’s ballast than anyone else’s.

    It seems odd that after bringing in rules on minimum cockpit entry size etc to prevent bigger drivers being descriminated against Max may have killed their careers or at least dampened their effectiveness with his supposedly green technology.

    If Honda genuinely believe they have an advantage with their KERS system it does not make sense put a heavy driver in th car to compromise the effectiveness of that advantage.

  • I don’t think he should retire. He has produced equal if not better results than Button on quite a few occasions, so the skill is still there.

    The real factor I think will be the competitiveness of the 2009 Honda F1 car. If it is half-good, he will stay for another season or two. If it is as bas as the last 2 years, I think 2009 will be his last season.

  • Barrichello is only 1.5kg heavier than Button according to F1 Racing’s 2008 season preview, and the likes of Webber and Sutil are considerably heavier. 1.5kg is also the smallest weight difference between team-mates in F1 right now. So if Honda dismiss Barrichello due to weight, they’ve got much bigger problems than the driver line-up (in case we hadn’t already figured that one out)!

    Honda should keep Barrichello as he is currently performing better than Button (I know Honda’s contractually bound to keep Button, hence why he’s not in danger) and both Senna and di Grassi would probably benefit from another year in GP2. There’s always 2010 to pick one or the other up (or purchase from Toro Rosso should that prove necessary).

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