Barrichello needs a big result on home ground (Brazilian Grand Prix preview)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

The title's a long shot, but a home win for Barrichello would help
The title's a long shot, but a home win for Barrichello would help

If the Brazilian Grand Prix this weekend is half as exciting as the one we had last year, it’ll be a race to remember.

Although we’re unlikely to see an exciting conclusion to the championship on Sunday, anyone rooting for a down-to-the-wire title battle will be hoping for a home win for Rubens Barrichello or for Sebastian Vettel to repeat his dominant Suzuka performance.

The title looks like a long shot for anyone who isn’t Jenson Button. But we’ve seen bigger upsets in the past at Interlagos.

People talking about protecting ‘F1’s traditional races in Europe’ – but if Interlagos disappeared off the calendar I’d be just as sad as if Monaco, Monza, Spa or Silverstone got the chop.

But it seems Interlagos is here to stay and that’s a great thing because it has character, history, wildly enthusiastic fans and a corker of a track.

KERS and tyres

Looking ahead to the race, the tyre situation could be especially important. As at Suzuka, the compounds will be two ‘stages’ apart, but this time they will be softer: drivers will have the medium and the super-soft tyres to use.

With several quick bends on the Interlagos circuit and the potential for high temperatures, the super-soft tyres will take quite a pounding. Although we’re unlikely to see the kind of extreme swings in performance we saw earlier in the season, keep an eye out for which teams struggle to get a decent stint length out of these tyres.

Another major differentiator of performance at Interlagos could be KERS. Renault are expected to bring their system back for the race, and McLaren and Ferrari will have it as usual.

KERS should make the biggest difference in the first and third sectors – especially the latter, where the cars have the long, uphill acceleration zone out of Juncao towards the start/finish straight.

On paper, this looks like a track best suited to the likes of McLaren and Brawn. The Red Bulls have thrived on tracks with lots of high-speed corners, which Interlagos is a bit short on. However Mark Webber was able to test their Interlagos-specification front wing at Suzuka, which should at least give them a head start on their setup.

Opportunity for Barrichello

For Barrichello, this is a precious opportunity for him to finally win his home Grand Prix after 16 attempts, some of them thwarted by the most cruel misfortune. In 1999 his engine failed while racing in the top three for Stewart.

Two years later, now driving for Ferrari, his car broke down on the way to the starting grid. He had to run back to the pits – in 35C heat – and take over Michael Schumacher’s spare car. Two laps in, he slammed into the back of Ralf Schumacher’s Williams, putting them both out. In the chaotic 2003 race Barrichello finally looked on course to win after taking the lead – until he ran out of fuel.

Barrichello may be good friends with Felipe Massa. But we can only imagine his frustration at seeing the man who replaced him at Ferrari winning the race twice in the past three years, becoming the first Brazilian since Ayrton Senna to do so.

But while Barrichello goes all-out for the win, Button knows all he needs to do is shadow his team mate and the title will almost certainly be his.

Though all the focus will be on the championship contenders, Kamui Kobayashi will become the fifth driver to make his Formula 1 debut this year. He’s had more mileage in a 2009-spec car than most teams’ third drivers have – but how will he cope?

Drivers to watch

Lewis Hamilton – On paper, the early favourite for victory.

Rubens Barrichello – A home win plus a Button DNF would be a fairytale finish for Barrichello this weekend. Particularly as Massa will be waving the chequered flag.

Kamui Kobayashi – This could be one of the toughest years ever to be a rookie F1 driver. Kobayashi has had some practice in the TF109, but his two season in GP2 were pretty poor.

Giancarlo Fisichella – Badly needs to start scoring points if Ferrari are going to achieve their target of beating McLaren to third place in the constructors’ championship.

Read more: Aut???dromo Jos?? Carlos Pace, Interlagos ?ǣ Circuit information

68 comments on “Barrichello needs a big result on home ground (Brazilian Grand Prix preview)”

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  1. I really hope JB does well! I hope he can wrap up, or make it near impossible for him to lose the championship! Want ham to do well too, the last 2 years he hasnt been performing well here, but i dont know whether that is because of the track or because he was under so much pressure!

    1. Barrichello must win!
      this is his last year in a race winning car.
      Even if he loses the championship his consolation prize would be to win his home for the first time in his career probably in the last race winning car of his career.

  2. Barrichello Confirmed At Williams

    Sad news indeed :( He was not give a fair chance by R. Brawn. He was always plagued by engine stalls, gearbox problems & various other mechanical failures. He has been used like a guinea pig by Brawn. His race strategies were always compromised & second class. He was forced to play second fiddle to Button. Just hope he wins this one “at least”.

    1. i dont think that that statement is entirely true! i think that button was successful at the beginning because the car suited him, now that the car is more in the middle Barri has been able to get used to it more than JB. It is a shame, but i lok forward to Rosberg having a more competative drive next year to see if he is as good as everyone says he is!

    2. Prisoner Monkeys
      12th October 2009, 13:32

      How are engine stalls Brawn’s problem? The only way you can get the anti-stall to kick in is if you let the revs drop too low, and the only person who can let Barrichello’s revs drop too low is Rubens Barrichello.

      His radio transmissions with Jock Clear in Spain prove that Brawn were not interfering with the outcome of the race. They believed that Barrichello could make it happen if he put the hammer down, and he didn’t.

      I have not seen anything in his season that would suggest he was “forced” into being a number two. He stated that if he was ever in that postion, he’d leave, and yet he’s still with them. If he was being forced into being second-best, he’d have been ordered to move over in Valencia and in Italy, and if he’d been ordered to, he would have let the world know about it.

      No, you’re just making excuses for the fact that Jenson Button has been quicker than Barrichello, particularly in the first half of the season.

    3. no, rubens is just an overrated driver. how many botched passes has he done? that guy is just a whiner….hmm, just like Massa.

      1. yeah like BAR vs KOV in turkey.

      2. How many passes have you seen from Jenson Button?

        Talkin’ ’bout overrated drivers..

        1. What, you mean like all the places he’s made up on first laps this year, including that crucial one on Vettel in Istanbul?

      3. Mike "the bike" Schumacher
        12th October 2009, 22:34

        Have you heard any of the Brawn team radio this year? Button is just as big of a whiner as barrichello. Massa didnt whine when he lost the championship last year, but actually showed the best sportsmanship seen in a long time.
        Biggest whiner of all time has to be Montoya.

        1. Who on the current grid ISNT a whiner? Kimi?

        2. We only get to hear selected bits of team radio, so we can’t really say one driver is significantly worse than another when it comes to how they communicate with their team.

          The broadcasters will probably only choose to air clips which they think make good TV or give relevant information on the leaders or other big names.

          Earlier in the season when people criticised Button for shouting down the radio complaining the car was not as good as earlier in the season, I didn’t see that much up with what he said. I would have thought the drivers generally have to shout to be heard on the radio and his comment was a genuine one, that a few races before the car was a dream to drive but at that race it wasn’t. It isn’t as though the drivers are only allowed to use the radio at set times so everything they say has to be carefully judged.

          In previous seasons when Button wasn’t fighting for a championship the producers probably wouldn’t have even broadcast it.

    4. I partly agree, Bar should stay at Brawn and he has suffered a lot more with strategy/mechanical problems than JB

      1. But steph, thats more about his driving style then Brawn giving him dodgey engines, with strategy it is a little grayer

    5. I don’t agree with the conspiracies either, but it’s important to bear in mind Barrichello was having trouble with his brakes early in the season. Without that, that 26-point gap might have been nearer half that, and less than 10 now (and possible less than 16 to Vettel, had Rubens won one of Jenson’s 6 victories instead). Brawn admitted at the start of the year that Rubens was only there for stability, and it’s pretty obvious he favours Jenson emotionally, if not actually tampering with Barrichello’s races.

      Rubens’ story at Brawn reminds me of the saying, everyone is born equal, but some more equal than others. Whether that’s down to circumstance or deliberate meddling from the team (which I find hard to believe), you can’t deny that sums up Rubens’ year pretty well.

    6. I spoke with rubens the other day, he told me it’s his fault jenson is ahead of him, not ross’s. I agreed, and said “show me if you want it and pass.”

  3. I think another point placement will ensure JB the title.
    I support Barrichello for winning the race: I see a tight fight with Hamilton.
    Don’t agree Barrichello was penalized by strategies: he lost from JB because of a couple of wrong starts. Then he showed great pace and succesfull performances in the second halk, but we cannot say that Jenson didn’t have a wonderful first half of the championship. At the end I think he deserves to win.

  4. Prisoner Monkeys
    12th October 2009, 13:40

    I think another point placement will ensure JB the title.

    I agree. Whatever happens, he’ll walk away from Brazil with a four-point lead over Barrichello and a six-point lead over Vettel. And since Barrichello and Vettel obviously can’t both win the race, someone is going to have a devil of a time in Abu Dhabi. I know it would be great for Barrichello to finally win his home race, but I don’t think he can do it. And if he does, I think the result will be more like Monza and Valencia with Button scoring enough points to seal it.

    If Barrichello wins, Button needs fourth place and he’s untouchable because even if Barrichello wins in Abu Dhabi, Button will take the title because he’d have more wins. If Barrichello fails to finish and Vettel wins, Button only needs to get fifth, and he’ll once again win on countback regarless of what happens in Abu Dhabi.

    1. I bet you it goes to Abu Dhabi PM :P

    2. 3rd actually, if Rubens wins (14-10+6 = 10), but I agree. If Button is to win the title, I’d like to see him do it by finishing 3rd, a result which makes him champion regardless of whatever anyone else does, thus symbolically “winning it” rather than “doing enough on the day”.

      1. Prisoner Monkeys
        13th October 2009, 1:14

        I bet you it goes to Abu Dhabi PM

        If it does, Vettel or Barrichello will need to win and Button will only need eighth.

        If Button is to win the title, I’d like to see him do it by finishing 3rd, a result which makes him champion regardless of whatever anyone else does, thus symbolically “winning it” rather than “doing enough on the day”.

        That would be nice, but Button’s approach has always been that he’ll wait for the opportunity to present itself. If he has to win it by taking a single point in Abu Dhabi, he will; he’s not going to go all in and try and win it if that’s unrealistic. As Lewis Hamilton proved in bot Germany and Italy, whenyou try things like that, it ends in tears.

        1. Fine, I’ll bet Seb or Rubens take the tutle then :P Maybe I’m being optimistic …

  5. It would be nice for Barrichello to finally win his home Grand Prix but I think bad luck may strike again and prevent him.

  6. Sums up the season that Button is going to win the championship but not a “One to watch” for the race.

  7. early forecast are predicting rain on Sunday, if true it will be a big factor in the race!

  8. so if webber is winning and vettel is second place, would webber move over to let vettel win?

    1. Guess so. Webber has no mathematical chance of winning the championship. I think even without team orders, Webber would let Vettel pass. That’s the normal thing to do. Team play is not a problem if only one of the team mates remains a contender.

    2. It would depend on many which position Button is in for example.

      1. Vettel is a long-shot for this title, to say the least. But I suspect that he will have a lot of help. I.e., Button should be very careful if in a wheel-to-wheel battle with Webber; likewise, Button should take great care when lapping the two (!) STR drivers. Incidentally, given the team for which Buemi (sp?) drives, and the recent ‘Crashgate’ debacle, did anyone else think that his (final!) crash in qualifying was a little…suspicious? At the very least, it was incredibly fortunate and fluky for Red Bull. If that incident had not occurred, the FIA would not have had an excuse to artificially distance Button from Vettel; consequently, the title might now look very different.

        Nevertheless, if Button continues to play it safe, he should be fine. He’s benefiting greatly from a resurgent McLaren team, lead by their driving legend, Mr Lewis Hamilton. If Lewis wins the final two races, and they should both suit his car’s characteristics and its KERS system, then Vettel will find it very difficult to take the requisite strides out of Jenson’s lead. This is especially true if other cars get in the mix.

        Remember that, for Vettel, two second place finishes, good as that is, is not good enough for him to become WDC of 2009.

  9. Renault are said to be using KERS again this weekend,and so you would have to favour McLaren,Ferrari and Renault before any other teams when it comes to race victories.Brawn and RedBull could be picking up the crumbs…which is fine if you’re JB.But if it rains……..

  10. I can’t wait, I personally love Brazil it is probably joint 2nd of my favs (with Spa 2nd too and Monza 1st) out of this year’s calendar. Though last year it did break my heart…:(
    Not to fussed who wins as long as it is a decent race

  11. Good anaylsis Keith and I liked that you praised Interlagos, a rather underrated venue. The facilities may not be the best and the scenery is rather ugly, but the track is challenging and rarely produces a boring race. Some drivers may whine about how the track is demanding on their necks, but its a good throwback to the old times, as opposed to the Tilke circuits, beautiful but utterly tedious.

  12. I’ve come to love Interlagos and it’s definitely in my Top 5, maybe even Top 3 races of the calendar.

    It should be interesting; Red Bull’s Singapore performance, plus corners like Juncao, will mean they should actually be a lot more competitive than some people are predicting they will based only on paper theories; certainly more than Brawn were at Suzuka, at least. If it rains, it will be a Red Bull/Hamilton fight, but if it doesn’t, it should be much more even and give Barrichello a chance to win.

    Personally, I hope Vettel wins from Rubens with a Jenson DNF, paving the way for a three-way battle for the title with only 6 points covering them. This probably won’t happen, unless Jenson reaches new levels of fail in qualifying and the race start and doesn’t finish in the points – it would be too unlikely for him to fail any other way, I think.

    Realistically, I think it will be a Vettel-Hamilton finish, with Button in 5th or 6th again, ending Vettel’s hopes.

    1. Silly me…Juncao is a slow corner. I meant the Descida do Lago, not to mention the Curva do Sol and Ferra Dura.

  13. People talking about protecting ‘F1’s traditional races in Europe’ – but if Interlagos disappeared off the calendar I’d be just as sad as if Monaco, Monza, Spa or Silverstone got the chop.

    But it seems Interlagos is here to stay and that’s a great thing because it has character, history, wildly enthusiastic fans and a corker of a track.

    WOW, for a guy like me who really loves Interlagos with all my heart, is a real pleasure to read this.

    Thanks mate! :)

    1. I am one who supports protecting traditional European races…..and any other country that is steeped in racing history.Interlagos is one of the high points of the F1 season.Great track,rabid fans….the same feelings you get when you watch Silverstone,Monaco and Monza.Not to mention the fact that Brazil produced the finest racer we’ve ever seen.I am happy to see Interlagos back for the final round next year where it belongs.How many screaming fans do you think there will be at Abu Dhabi for the final round,how many people in the stands will even know half the racers on the track or what the hell is even going on.Long live the Brazilian GP!:)

      1. Could we see Bin Laden at Abu Dubai? I thought its very near to Afghanistan.

        1. Only about 2000km between Abu Dhabi and Kabul….

          Mind you, the UAE (of which Abu Dhabi is a part) borders Saudi Arabia, which is bin Laden’s country of origin.

        2. LOL
          You are too funny
          Bin Laden at the F1 grand prix, now that would the day

  14. Funny thing is Button might owe to Hamilton not to finish his season 2007-Hamilton style. Former champions (Hamilton , Alonso and Kimi)and their late resurgences are probably Button’s best chances of clinching the title! Add in a now-ok BMW and Button’s hope could fly quite high.

    1. Well, they might get between Vettel and him as well. Then he is screwed.

  15. I’m sure the driver to watch will be Jenson Button as well. Martin Brundle has said he needs a “champions drive”, so lets see if he can deliver that. Critics will only be quietened (rather than silenced) if he wins one or both of the remaining Grand Prix.

    C’mon Jenson!

    1. I don’t consider Button to be British. He is every thing that a British shouldn’t be. The last Briton with steel balls was Mansell.

      1. Button will be a new “Hill champion”. He’s a good driver, but not exceptional.
        I consider Hamilton a true champion but Jenson doesn’t.

        1. I think that the difference between a good driver and an exceptional driver in F1 is about the thickness of a hair.

          I recall a comment from Shumi regarding Hill after Hill had left Williams. It was something like…”Perhaps Frank doesn’t know how good Damon really is.”

          It’s probably only the drivers that know how good the guy beside them on the grid really is.

          1. Damon was a legend. He stepped up to the plate in 1994 and nearly won the WDC in a car that was struggling to adapt to life without traction control and active suspension. His win at the Spanish GP in 1994 was one of the greatest moments in motorsport history, and was probably the most important win in Williams history when you consider it in context. His 1996 WDC was well deserved, and well driven, despite the dominance of the FW18. And he has started to look like George Harrison the older he has got, which has to be a good thing. ;-)

            As I said, a number of times) in the “Who do you want to be WDC” poll, if Jenson wins, he deserves it. Rubens, Vettel and Webber haven’t been good enough to haul him in. So how can they possibly deserve it more?

      2. Apart from growing up in Somerset, which is in ENGLAND and part of GREAT BRITAIN, he isnt British?

        Geography wasn’t your strong point at school, was it…?

        1. lol I think mp4 means typical British mentality :)

    2. Even if Button won the last two races, and no matter in what manor he did it, for example lead all the way or come from the back to win, you will still have people say he wasn’t deserving and only won because of the car. You just have to look at all the anti Alonso or Hamilton comments on the internet.

      Personally I want Button to win.

  16. Why would LH be the favorite on paper? In the two years that he had a championship winning car he was not able to do anything close to a winning performance in Interlagos, why would he be the favorite now?

  17. The Brazilian Grand Prix of 2006, 2007 and 2008 have surely been the best or second best races of that season!!!

    I thought nothing could match 2006 with Schumi’s stunning drive, and we got 2007 where Hamilton somehow grabbed defeat out of nowhere. If I thought nothing could trump 2007, 2008 just proved me wrong again. What an epic, WHAT.AN.EPIC!!

    It will be hard to trump 2008, but again, its Interlagos. I want Rubens to win though, to hear the crowd go berserk when the chequered flag waves.

    Button will probably play safe again. He is still the favorite for the title, but he cannot afford a DNF.

    Hamilton got a DNF in the 2nd last race of 2007 and that changed the championship on its head. Schumi got a DNF in the 2nd last race of the championship in 2006 and that again changed the championship.

  18. I agree with Keith about the Hamilton’s favoritism. Driving without pressure coupled McLaren momentum, he has everything to grab another win. I will support Barrichello, of course, but Jenson deserves the WDC for the simple fact of having won more races this season.

  19. Don’t discount Vettel in Interlagos. Webber set the fastest laptime in Suzuka when he put on the front wing RBR will use this weekend. Granted, Suzuka is a different circuit, but that front wing made the car go even faster. I disagree that Lewis is the early favorite on paper. This is not a strong KERS track. The battle for victory should be between Vettel and Barrichello. Button can win this race, but he won’t because he will play it safe. Just too much to risk going for the win.

    Wouldn’t it be exquisite if the WDC came down the last (and also first) race in Abu-Dabbi ?

    1. remember that wing only made 0.003s of a difference if any,

      anyway interlagos is a bumpy circuit with a slow sector but it does have a few fast corners, however the rb5 has suited tracks with very aero dependent characteristics, e.g. china, suzuka, silverstone. Interlagos demands good mechanical grip in the slower bumpier sectors, something that the rb5 has has not been the strongest in coping with e.g. monaco and valencia. The mp4-24 is probably the best car mechanically and the bgp001 is probably up there aswell, KERS will be big influence explecially out of the ‘senna s’ and up the hill onto the main straight.

      you are not wrong the rb5 is quick, and it has very good aero, however the mech side is not the best. the Mp4-24 is very good mechanically and has a good (not perfect) aero charachteristic, which along with kers should suit interlagos well.

      my money is on mclaren. but thats just me

      1. I agree w/ most of your points, but don’t forget that RBR is throwing the kitchen sink at this WDC. THey are likely to have more new parts for Interlagos than just a new wing. And … it is likely to rain this weekend, which should suit Vettel in particular (although Lewis is also strong in these conditions). I don’t agree that KERS is a significant advantage here though.

        1. its more siuted to kers, as say silverstone

  20. what happens at the end of the season Rubens, Jenson and Vettel all have the same amount of points? Its possible! I hope Lewis wins this race, he deserves it, Also ill be cheering for fis to get some points or even get a podium! i would like to see an Italian in a Ferrari get a podium again :) Would like to see a toyota get a podium to. Just to spice up the championship :)

    1. Button wins if they all have the same points

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