Barrichello, Bourdais and Piquet: will they still be F1 drivers in 2009?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Nelson Piquet Jnr\'s first home Grand Prix could be his last
Nelson Piquet Jnr's first home Grand Prix could be his last

David Coulthard announced in July that this weekend?s Brazilian Grand Prix would be his last F1 start.

But there is uncertainty over the futures of three other drivers on the grid ?ǣ two of whom count the Brazilian GP as their home race.

Will Sunday?s race mark the last F1 appearances for Rubens Barrichello, Sebastien Bourdais and Nelson Piquet Jnr?

Sebastien Bourdais

Toro Rosso are already losing German wunderkind Sebastian Vettel to Red Bull ?ǣ would they really want to risk starting 2009 with an all-new driver line-up by dropping Bourdais as well?

The Frenchman?s form has been unspectacular but in recent races he has gotten closer to Vettel on speed. He was classified in front of Vettel at Fuji before being given an extremely harsh penalty, and his race at Shanghai was ruined at the first corner.

He may not have done enough to given him a cast-iron claim on a seat for 2009, but I don?t think he?s done anything that merits a sacking. Nor do I think that, in Takuma Sato and Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso have two especially strong candidates to replace Bourdais with. I hope the Interlagos race isn?t his last.

43% of F1 Fanatic readers voted that Bourdais should keep his F1 seat for 2009.

Nelson Piquet Jnr

At the beginning of 2008 there were rumours Piquet would be swiftly dropped. After a fortunate second place at Hockenheim matters improved for a while but he slumped once more and found himself getting knocked out in Q1 again.

He?s fought back in the dying stages of the season ?ǣ but how much of this is down to improvements in the car, which team mate Fernando Alonso has driven to two wins and a fourth in the last three races?

Renault may find it an easy choice to replace Piquet with Lucas di Grassi for 2009 ?ǣ another Brazilian GP2 runner-up who has already impressed Renault?s test team. Sunday?s race could be Nelson Piquet?s Jnr sole appearance in the event his father won twice.

52% of F1 Fanatic readers voted that Piquet should keep his F1 seat for 2009.

Rubens Barrichello

Rubens Barrichello is not a rookie trying to win a second year ?ǣ he?s F1?s mot experienced driver. But he hasn?t got a contract for 2009, and team mate Jenson Button is believed to be more likely to stay at Honda next year.

There?s a strong chance that Sunday?s race will be Barrichello?s 16th and final home Grand Prix.

Which of these drivers do you think will be racing in F1 for the last time this weekend?

F1 2009 season
2009 F1 drivers and teams

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Rubens Barrichello will start his 266th Grand Prix this weekend
Rubens Barrichello will start his 266th Grand Prix this weekend

35 comments on “Barrichello, Bourdais and Piquet: will they still be F1 drivers in 2009?”

  1. I reckon Bourdais should stay. The new 2009 rules should benefit his driving style. Slicks and less aero. Being a multiple CART winner isn’t enough for F1 as history, but I think he’s done enough for a 1st season and should be given a 2nd.

    Piquet. Always completely outshone by Alonso. However, due to poor qualifying speed, correct me if I’m wrong, has always been on a heavy fuel load for a race. This always seems to compromise him as it wears his tyres more and then he’s spinning off somewhere. I can’t see Renault keeping him given their form, unless he’s bringing in “a lot” of sponsorship. I’d drop Piquet. But I’m not sure who’d replace him though. Lots of choice out there.

    Barrichello. Tough call for Honda. If you’re keeping one old hand with Button, do you risk the 2nd seat with a young gun or keep Reubens. I’d keep Reubens unless the chance to sign Alonso or Bruno Senna comes along.

  2. With Rubens due in the FIA press conference on Thursday, I think it may well be to announce his retirement – I can’t think of any other reason why he would be in there with DC and the title contenders, other than he is Brazilian obviously!

  3. I think Barrichello and Bourdais have justified their places in F1, and I can’t see many who would be a better bet than either of them. The opposite is true of Piquet, and he’s consistently underperformed. I still think Nakajima doesn’t warrant a drive next year either, but he basically guarantees engines for Williams, so he’s staying.

  4. We need Bourdais for another year with a different team mate to see if Vettel really is the wunderkind his performance against Bourdais might suggest. I’ve got a suspicion Webber will up his game and Vettel won’t seem so stellar.

    Piquet was in a way unlucky to debut against Fernando Alonso, but Renault should be willing to punt on someone else. Anyone else, really.

    Rubens has been lucky this year that Jenson has been moaning and not really bothering. But does he want another year at Honda? Another year struggling to stay off the back of the grid while everyone says you’re past your best which btw was never that great anyway? Does anyone seriously believe Honda will make a miraculous step forward? I don’t.

  5. I don’t think that Lucas will do any better compared to Nelson. Alonso will beat them both. If they improve the car and next driver won’t make mistakes then it’s because of the improved car. I think Nelson was forced to jump over the shadow and he ended up in the wall. Any rookie will fail like this. Alonso somehow managed to squeeze the water out of the rock while still keeping the car on track :) Id like to see how Nelson performs next season.

  6. I think Bourdais will Stay, he always complained about his car during the season. I think if Bourdais was given a well balance car that suits his driving style he will shine.

    Piquet, I don’t think he will make it to 2009. But why not giving him another chance. People learn from their mistakes nobody is perfect and nobody is Ayrton Senna.

    Barrichello, the oldest Warrior in F1, I think its shame for Honda if they drop him, in fact they should him another seat for two more years just to compensate him for the rubbish car they have in 2008. And give him a dignified retirement in 2011 after he starts for make a good results. The problem is clearly is not from him. The problem is from the bad car.

  7. No, No, Yes, in that order of your asked question. Don’t agree with it, but that’s the way it looks to shake out.

  8. I’d give both Piquet & Bourdais another season to see how well they improve with a bit of experience behind them.

    Lots of drivers have had a tough time in their first few seasons yet have gone on to be very good drivers and in some cases champions.

    Barrichello is a tougher call.

    There’s no doubt he’s a good driver but he’s getting old for an F1 driver & can’t have many more seasons left in him.
    If Honda are going to keep Button next season then I’d have to go with a younger driver as his team mate.

    I’d be sad to see him go though, he’s given a lot to the sport and as a Ferrari fan I can’t praise him enough.

  9. I think Bourdais will shine if he has second season with the new specs and a year of maturity. If you review rookies in the past, many have been beaten by his teammates the first year, but not in the second. If I were Toro rosso I would not gamble, I think he already has gained the experience, knows the team, the tracks, he finishes the races, he is getting to q3 in the last races (except singapore, the team has invested a lot of money on him, and he is right now at the same level as Webber. Neither Sato nor Buemi impresses. Really I would prefer Bourdais-Luizi if it is a must that a redbull driver should stay. At least Liuzzi is F3000 Champ. What has Buemi won?. Although I think Bourdais is a much better driver than any of those.

    Piquet definetley has not impressed and is inconsistent. But Di Grassi or Grosjain could be the same in the first year. So give him a second chance.

    Barrichelo is faster than Button, but probably if someone of the three should go I would choose him. Not because he is a bad driver,I think he is very good, but probably it´s time for him to retire and better if it is in a high

  10. Bourdais should stay, to become ‘senior driver’ at Torro Rosso partnering a rookie. Maybe the added responsibility will be the making of him? Meanwhile, over at Red Bull, it will be very interesting to see how Vettel does against the more experienced Mark Webber.

    Over at Renault, I really don’t see them sticking with Piquet. Anyone who does sign for them will definitely be the junior partner, with Alonso getting priority. So it would be a rookie for that seat, then.

    Speaking of Brazilians related to famous Brazilian F1 drivers, I have no doubt that Bruno Senna will get a drive somewhere on the basis of his name alone. But will he live up to the hype? Probably not. The poor sod will be compared with his late, great Uncle Ayrton before he even steps into a car. And who can live with that sort of comparison?

    As for Rubens – it’s ‘thank you and goodnight’. Another F1 driver who had bags of potential (I remember him racing against DC in Formula 3 back in the day when F3 used to be shown on Grandstand) but never quite fulfilled it. That would be Jenson in a few years time, then.

    But hey. What I’d like to see in 2009 would be perennial test driver Anthony Davidson finally getting a chance to race in a decent car. Dream on…

  11. I would hate to see Barrichello go but it seems like he is. If I had to choose between Button or Barrichello for 2009 I would choose Barrichello.

    If Alonso stays at Renault next year Alonso will want a slower driver in the second seat but also a driver who can help him have a chance at the title so I see Piquet going.

    Sebastien Bourdais I say for shore will stay at STR. No point going into 2009 with two rookie drivers. Bourdais knows the car, the team and the tracks which is what torro rosso need next year.

  12. HounslowBusGarage
    29th October 2008, 20:46

    Look at it the other way round – in Barrichello’s case at least.
    As a driver who had raced through the wonder-years with Schumacher at Ferrari, would you want yet another year at the back with Honda?
    Financially secure, reputation intact, would you want to thrash about for tenth place (on a good weekend) with a crap car?
    I can’t think of any reason to stay, unless Honda are going to come forward with a rocket-propelled balista for next season – and that’s not going to happen.

  13. I still feel the deciding factors about these three seats are where is Alonso next year as well as will Red Bull take the Ferrari engines and dump the Renault engines in which case would Toro Rosso have the Renault engines? If so perhaps Grosjean or di Grassi at Toro Rosso alongside Bourdais?

  14. No-Yes-No
    That’s what i think…

  15. I want Piquet to keep his seat for 2009 for the simple fact that he has drove fantastically at some points in the season despite not always having the results. He is also a perfect team mate for Fernando as he does not beat him too often, he does not whine about favouritism and he seems to just get on with it.

    I think Barrichello has earned his honda seat this year after outscoring honda’s wonderchild Button. He has also drove well and seems far more comfortable within the team now Ross Brawn is there.

    Bourdais? Naa, he has not driven well enough to earn his seat and has been royally shown up by Vettel.

  16. I said once before on another post just what Chalky said….the new rules will benefit Bourdais,slicks and less aero.He did VERY well in Champ Car,I think he deserves another year at least.

    I like Rubens but,I think putting around in a Honda at the back of the field is not exactly like going out in a blaze of glory,it is time for him to call it quits.

    …..and Piquet hasn’t impressed me one bit.He already has his one (undeserved )podium trophy for a keepsake,maybe he should be happy with that.

  17. @Nick (No 10)

    To be fair to Rubens he did spend his best years as Schumi’s number two at Ferrari.

    Had he been allowed to race him for the championship then I reckon he could have had a good go at winning at least one.
    He showed he could be faster than Schumi when he was allowed to be and I say that as a big Schumi fan.

    It was a tough choice for him to make, be a number one at a smaller team with little chance of ever winning anything or go to Ferrari and have a chance to at least win a few races even though he knew he’d always have to support Schumi due to the political structure at the team.

    I think he’s one of the best drivers not to win a championship & it’s a shame Honda haven’t been able to give him a decent car.

  18. Renault is Alonso so IMO it does not matter who they put in there.That second driver will always be second banana. He would help with the constructors championship but would never be able to outshine Alonso. McLaren gave both drivers similar cars last year and LH has the ability to to get it over Alonso but that team is exceptional. Alonso is a two time world champion when Schumi was strong so it is always tough to compete with him.

  19. Bourdais has gotten a bad rap this year, and yea, he has been outclassed, but Vettel truly looks to be something beyond special. Bourdais might not have the points to show it, but he has done very well and has had a fair share of mechanical and other issues.

    I’d love to see him at Renault, but I’m not sure he and Flav make such a good team. That being said, he should stay in F1 somewhere if Toro doesn’t want him.

    Barrichello is past his prime, make him a test driver and use his skill there to help the new Honda for ’09. Piquet is a letdown and I think many others could and would do more with that car.

  20. In all honesty piquet and bourdais were always going to struggle in their first season,their cars were never going to compete with the frontrunners, unlike hamilton who made his debut in one of the best cars outhere so i would not drop the two of them.Barrichello on the other hand should quit give one of the next generation of drivers a chance.

  21. Keith; the figures you have stated are referring to a poll conducted in August; so I scarcely think; those figures represent anything. I would think; Bourdias will stay; Barrichello will quit; Piquet will go back to a testing role.

  22. Sumedh – they seem to reflect the split of opinion in these comments fairly closely. August wasn’t that long ago!

  23. I agree that Piquet is unlucky to debut with alonso, but so did Hamilton in the same car as Alonso and he beat him to 2nd, as there was a lot more fighting between them. I think Piquet should be dropped, bourdais should stay and Rubens should go.

  24. I’d keep Bourdais. He’s getting on top of his problems (which, anyway, were probably because of this one car and needn’t mean much for the future. See Raikkonen; Heidfeld).

    I’d keep Piquet. He debuted in a tricky car against probably the best driver in F1 and I expect he’s been feeling like he’s been running out of time all year. His lack of testing last year did him no favours but he’s driven some good races and if he sorts out his qualifying (which was one of his strengths in other categories) he should be fine. Why would Renault want to go through all this again with it’s third new driver in three years? I want to see Di Grassi in F1, too, though.

    And I’d keep Barrichello. He’s driven very well this year. Again, I want to see Senna or Di Grassi in F1 but who would do a better job than Rubens? If I were a Honda boss I’d give him another year at least while keeping a close eye on several young drivers.

  25. All 3 should stay. First get the cars right (Renault seems to be closer now) , then if they fail , sack them , but not before.

  26. SeaBass: Of course. He’s earned another year…and I really think it could be a break-through year for him.

    Piquet: I don’t think so. He just doesn’t seem to have it.

    Rubens: A tough choice. Probably best if he retires.

  27. Heck i say keep all of them, since next season the whole car is a different equation, you would really want some static variables. these drivers are settled in, and the car design upset is enough to throw a team off it’s rythm, let alone a new driver and his excess bagage…

    Rubens and Bourdais should be held onto, they will definetly earn their cash next year. …

  28. I’d say keep Bourdais and Barrichello. As identified in the piece on Bourdais above it seems very unfair if he were to lose his seat on the back of another Steward’s enquiry that fell Ferrari’s way. He has closed the gap on his team-mate and unless Red Bull are going to radically change their Renault engine, I would not be at all surprised if Toro Rosso remain higher than their “sister” team despite wunderkid Vettel.

    Barrichello is still very competitive despite not being in a very competitive team. His wealth of experience and development skills should be rewarded with a race drive – not just an excuse to pension him off. Surely he knows when the time is right for him to retire, not to have the decision forced on him by bringing in younger and younger drivers. Age doesn’t always maketh the man. At this rate, pit stops will have to be made for nappy changes rather than fuel or tyres!

    Piquet has been given the opportunity to try and has shown some promise but whether that is enough to satisfy Renault or more importantly Flavio remains to be seen. Renault have always taken chances with their drivers, sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. It’s catch 22, do you give someone who’s lacks experience another crack of the whip or bring in someone with no F1 experience who might be wonderful? I’m glad I’m not a strategist but suspect that Piquet will be demoted.

  29. Matt,
    Although hamilton tied on points with Alonso last year lets not forget the preferential treatment he got towards the end of the season, it was clear that Ron favoured hamilton and that obviousy hampered Alonso’s chances of doing well.

  30. amy,
    I seem to remember a certain “equality steward” in the McLaren garage at the end of last year ensuring that both drivers got an equal chance of winning.

    Lewis may have been favoured by Ron but if Alonso hadn’t been so childish then his relationship with Ron would have been much better, threatening your boss is not an intelligent career move.

    Alonso only has himself to blame for not being a 3 times world champion now.

    No teams give equal treatment to their drivers but to suggest that Alonso’s chances of winning last season were hampered by Ron Dennis, in my opinion, doesn’t give a fair reflection of the circumstances or Ron Dennis.

    (I’m not a McLaren or Hamilton fan by the way.)

  31. Yes but would that equality steward have been needed if Alonso was getting fair treatment?

  32. I think that had more to do with Alonso’s paranoia & constant media outbursts every time Lewis did well.

    Don’t want to get into an argument or anything, it’s only F1 after all ;~).

    As a Ferrari fan I watched last years events at McLaren as a bit of an independent observer as I had no emotional attachment to anyone in the team. If anything I like Alonso more than Hamilton too.

    I’ve got to say though that from the outside it looked like Alonso lost the psychological battle & then used every excuse he could think of to explain why Lewis was doing as well & sometimes better than him in the same car. Some of his interviews last year were verging on the hysterical, especially his Spanish ones.

    Why would Ron spend so much money bringing Alonso into the team & then spend so much paying his salary if he didn’t want him to win ?

    McLaren have a history of hiring two very good drivers & then using their rivalry to push the team forward, some drivers thrive on it while others crumble under the pressure.

    Alonso crumbled.

    Sorry amy, I’m ranting again & you ended up with a Saga.
    Don’t take it personally though I do it all the time, getting old & can’t help myself :~)

  33. I think Bourdais deserves his drive without a doubt and he should be allowed to stay. I remember us all talking awhile back about F1 being a place for the best drivers in the world- if that is the case, SB deserves to be here because he earned his way in- he is a decorated champion in another top series, and not someone who was tutored to make it into the sport.

    Sadly, I think it is almost certain that he will be dumped after this weekend- Red Bull seems to be obsessed with getting Buemi into a seat, and there seems to be an overlying principle in F1 that Sato needs to be employed by one of the teams in order for the sport to be in perfect harmony- how many other drivers who are far better get as many chances as he dose? As a result, sadly, Seb will be looking for a different line of work, although I very much hope I am wrong on that one.

    Piquet will get another year- Renault wants that family name to be a success, and he’s still no threat to Alonso. You see, as long as Alonso and Hamilton are employed at their current teams, you will never see a truly elite no. 2 driver at those teams- the goal at those programs is to get the WDC for their leading driver- Ferrari can keep the WCC as far as Ron and Flavio are concerned.

    As for Rubens, I agree that he should not be forced out. However, I think retiring at the end of this season may have been his best move- if he gets left in the dust with the new regulations next seaosn he will be wishing he had retired when he still had the crummy car as an excuse. In any event, I think the only way he would have been forced out is if Honda could get Alonso, and since that dosen’t appear to be the case, Rubens will soldier on for at least one more season.

  34. STR would be crazy to drop Bourdais. He was the quickest driver in the Red Bull stable at Spa, Fuji and Shanghai.

    If I were McLaren I’d pick him up should STR drop him, test him for a year then replace Kovalainen.

  35. Fergus Gallas
    31st October 2008, 20:29

    Brazillian press headlines today:
    Bruno Senna has offered $14millions for a 2009 seat in Toro Rosso.
    I believe Berger needs this cash.

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