Will Honda drop Barrichello for 2009?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Rubens Barrichello may not be a Formula 1 driver in 2009
Rubens Barrichello may not be a Formula 1 driver in 2009

Rubens Barrichello became the most experienced F1 driver of all time earlier this year.

But that, his nine Grand Prix wins and a well-deserved podium in the rain at Silverstone this year may not be enough to earn him a place on the 2009 grid.

Should Honda keep Barrichello?

Rubens Barrichello is his third year with Honda. But the season in which he?s compared most favourably with team mate Jenson Button has also been the one where the team has performed most poorly.

The RA108 started the year as a slow car. Months of limited development as the team prioritise the RA109, built to the radically different 2009 regulations, have not made things better.

Last year if a Honda was doing conspicuously well it was usually Button?s. But Barrichello shone in the rain at Silverstone to score an excellent third place ?ǣ the team?s only podium since 2006. And he was set to capitalise on the safety car deployment at Singapore when he suffered an untimely retirement.

Fernando Alonso and Bruno Senna have been linked with Honda for 2009.

Alonso?s prospects of joining the team were reported in some quarters as being a done deal earlier in this year. But having won the last two Grands Prix on the trot ?ǣ something which seemed unthinkable even two months ago ?ǣ Alonso might now be leaning towards staying.

Senna would be a far riskier choice: the GP2 runner-up has looked quick but short on experience.

Should either of these drivers get the nod from Honda many expect Barrichello is the one who?ll be moved aside. He had some critical words for how long the team has taken to reach its decision this weekend:

There is a lot of silence at Honda right now, and I think this is tiresome. I’ve never been in a situation like this, without a contract for next year this late in the season. I’ve made it clear that if someone offers me a good contract for the next three years, I’ll sign it. I see my future in a F1 car, but if it doesn’t happen, it’s not the end of the world.

Do you think F1?s most experienced driver should get another year in 2009? Is he aiming too high by asking for a three-year deal this late in his career?

Read more about the 2009 F1 season

39 comments on “Will Honda drop Barrichello for 2009?”

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  1. If they could get Alonso , yes , but to drop Rubens for Senna for 2009 will be a big mistake. There is no way Senna in his first year in F1 will do better for Honda than Rubens during a full season. As we know Button is slightly quicker , so with the same drivers and a better car , they could see where they are on the 2009 grid with the new rules , then progress from there. So with Alonso looking like he will stay with Renault , I’m hoping Honda keep the same drivers.

  2. If it is all going to change next year then it is worth giving him a shot.

  3. I’d be sad to see Barrichello go, but if he’s replaced by either Fernando Alonso — which I don’t see happening — or a promising youngster like Bruno Senna, Luca Filippi or, say, Mike Conway, that would be a good thing.

    Fact is that guys like Barrichello, Fisichella, Trulli and Coulthard have been in F1 for over 10 years. All of them did not live up to expectations people had at the start of their respective careers. I have the feelng they did, however, more or less block young drivers from making their debuts on a number of occasions, the past decade, so now it is time for them to say goodbye.

  4. Terry Fabulous
    14th October 2008, 8:13

    Good call Lustigson.

    Time for DC, Rubens and Fisi to move on.

    Still reckon that Jarno deserves another year. Like the wine he adores, he is getting better with age. Just always in the top 10, always up there, just a little under Fred, Kimi, Lewis and the like.

  5. Will all the changes happening for 2009, feedback to the team will be critical. And to have someone with 10 years+ of experience, through a number of rule changes, would be far more valuable to the team than having a youngster with zero experience.

    Give Bruno Senna a testdrive and get him to drive as much as possible and he’d be good to go for 2010.

  6. I think he should retire on his own, but if somebody should be droped it should be Button. If he is such a good driver he would do something, the easiest thing to say is the car is not goog.

  7. I hope he stays. F1 needs a mix of young hotshots and seasoned veterans, and he’s got a great personality that stands out from the po-faced corporate clones.

    However, rumour has it he’ll be testing for the IRL’s Team Penske soon.

  8. @ skova – well, the sad fact is that Honda car simply is not good … and unlike in Renault where they moved from midfield to the top of the podium there is not much done in Honda to improve the 2008 car …

    Honda clearly is ready for one new driver. And after Button stuck with them, paid millions from his pocket to keep that seat and wasted the best years of his career at the back of the grid, I do not think he will be the one dropped at the end of this season…

  9. If Alonso is staying at Renault, then the best solution is to keep Barrichello.

    While Button is generally the faster driver this year (and it is very close between the two) Barrichello seems to be perfectly poised when something unusual happens.

    Giving Bruno a test drive so he can build up experience for 2010 will be good, but with Wurz in a testing role too, I don’t think he would get much track time.

  10. As I’ve mentioned before (why don’t Honda listen to me, dammit?), Honda need to get a designer before they look at altering their driver line-up. You can put Alonso into a bad car but you won’t win the championship that way.

    Apart from McLaren and Ferrari, Honda are the only team with two race winners in their cars.

  11. Fresh rumours today Petrobras are to replace Eneos as Honda’s fuel partner, and will bring Bruno Senna to the team.

  12. I really hope Rubens gets to stay in the team, but I fear he won’t, even given his strong ties to Ross from his Ferrari days. I suspect we’ll see Jenson with a new teammate next year, which is a shame.

    There’s only one driver I’d rather see in that team than Rubens and that’s Anthony Davidson…but I doubt that will happen any time soon, though I could see them bringing him back as test-driver.

  13. Vlad the Inhaler
    14th October 2008, 10:18

    More to the point, will Barrichello drop Honda next season….. What a woefull car….

  14. I for one would love to see Senna behind a Honda wheel today rather than tomorrow, but, and her it goes,

    Alonso is most likely to stay at Renault seeing that he’s been winnig recently, and the whole team has been performing on championship capable stadards.

    getting Senna would be great, but i think honda needs some consistency, especially due to the fact that almost everything in the car is changing. Barichello is an old geiser in F1 terms, but precisely that will give him an edge in developing and refining a brand new car over the year that has much to share with F1 cars of the days when barrichello started racing. a second positive is Ross Brown’s familiarity with Barrichello, they formed a good team with Ferrari, and will definetly do so with Honda.

    finally in my opinion, Senna would be the choice in terms of a new driver to Honda, but i think they should stick with what they have got, or at least Barrichello, run the 2009 season with Senna as a test/reserve pilot and give Barrichello a decent exit then by replacing him with is countryman.

    Barrichello is a very cool guy, it would be very sad to see him be flushed away, even if replaced by Alonso. it’s a shame that he has been left to hang so far this season, afterall he is the most experienced, and should be treated as such, with utmost respect.

  15. Alianora La Canta
    14th October 2008, 10:36

    Keith, who’s Eneos? I’ve not heard of them before, which is a bad sign for an F1 sponsor. The general idea of sponsorship being that people hear of the sponsor being advertising…

    I can’t see Barrichello dropping Honda next year because he enjoys F1 too much. As for Honda dropping Barrichello, I can see that being possible, but not if the alternatives are Alonso or Senna. I think both of them will be at different teams (Renault for the former, STR for the latter) and that Honda will therefore lack choices for any replacement. Changing the driver line-up wouldn’t help either – it is the car that’s causing the team to be stuck and blaming the drivers would only perpetuate their stuckness.

  16. Mussolini's pet cat
    14th October 2008, 10:38

    One of my highlights of the Singapore GP was of Rubens mistakingly lobbing his gloves into the water instead of the crowd….

  17. Mussolini's pet cat
    14th October 2008, 10:39

    Alianora, If no ones heard of your company, then a bloomin’ good way is to plaster your name on the side of an F1 car……..

  18. Eneos are quite big in Japan, lots of gas stations everywhere

  19. Alianora La Canta
    14th October 2008, 10:47

    Mussolini’s pet cat, if we were talking about Petrobas (the incoming fuel company), I’d accept that. But Eneos is leaving Honda, which is why I was wondering how well the fuel sponsorship was functioning. But if milos’ point that Eneos is quite big in Japan resulted in a Japan-orientated advertising campaign, then it makes sense again.

  20. Till around Valencia, Barrichello position looked safe. There were the ghost of Alonso, but I doubt anyone at Honda ever serious expect the spaniard to land there. Ross Brown likes him and even Fry made some noises about the drivers not being Honda’s problem. Then, he leaked to Brazilian TV that he was talking to Williams which of course everyone with some real info knew was non-sense and the buzz around brazilian press about he been dropped started. The reason ironically seems to be Petrobras arrival. Petrobras never made any mistery about wanting a brazilian driver during their 10 year stint at Williams (they manage to give Pizzonia a shot which he blew it and got Bruno Junqueira a test driver seat), but Barrichello image here in Brazil is unfairly negative (he is a regular punchline for TV comedians) and so he adds little for the company. Rumors around here is that Petrobras (whose deal with Honda seems to be larger than the one they had at Williams) hopes to get Piquet at the driver seat and Senna as the test driver (I guess I don’t need to point why a brazilian company would love to have both the names Piquet and Senna linked to them).

    Last weekend Barrichello made his unhapiness about “Honda’s silence” very clear to the brazilian press. I know he got a meeting with Fry and looked much happier on saturday. Then, on Monday there were the news about he getting a test at Penske (which might drop Helio Castroneves due to his problems with american justice). I guess Fry made clear that if he gets dropped Honda would help him land a good seat at Indycar.

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