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?”

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  1. 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.

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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. …

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.)

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

  12. 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 :~)

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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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