Sunday 23rd August 2009; 12:56pm BST. Rubens Barrichello is sitting in his Brawn GP Formula 1 car in 3rd position ready for a hot, long race through the dockyard of the Spanish city of Valencia. 1 red light. 2. 3. 4. 5. Pause. GO.
2:05pm BST. Lewis Hamilton pits early from 1st place. He strolls down the pitlane at 100km/h, with the mechanics rushing out to get ready for him. He pulls into his pit box, stops, waits. Disaster! A new front right wheel isn’t there! Time gets wasted, and as it does, Barrichello jumps Hamilton and gets a nice long lead ahead of him.
2:39pm BST. Barrichello makes his way around the final lap of the concrete jungle. He turns left, right, down straights, round hairpins and over bridges. He takes the final left hander to end up on the pit straight and zooms down to take his first win in 5 years in Formula 1! He’s done it!!
The last time Rubens had stepped on the illustrious top step of the podium was the Chinese Grand Prix of 2004. Nearly 5 years it had been, a break that had gone on far too long with a win long overdue for this much loved Formula 1 driver. For me personally, today’s win is amazingly bittersweet and sheer emotional excellence. All weekend, Barrichello was simply stunning in that Brawn GP and today he answered a lot of unfair critics. It’s been mentioned so many times that Rubens doesn’t have what it takes at this stage of his career to win or even challenge for the championship, and yet as I type this, he stands 2nd in the championship behind his team mate. Rubens still has it without a doubt.
As a long time Barrichello fan it’s extremely hard to conjure up the sheer emotion of seeing this wonderful man get that elusive win he so absolutely deserves. There have been so many moments in career where he has deserved better, and this year, he has everything he could ask for in a team. Even under Brawn’s ruling there have been ridiculous accusations of favouritism to Jenson Button yet it’s simply ridiculous. Barrichello is his own man and his own driver who won’t back down from expressing how he feels, but today and throughout his career he has continued to prove why he deserves to be remembered for more than his Grand Prix career length.
I don’t have much more to say because everything that needed to be said was done so out on track today. The strategy was perfect, the car was consistently fantastic and the drive was exactly what it needed to be. The reward of seeing Rubens with that lovingly gentle smile back on his face at the top of the podium, accompanied by his celebratory dance and ritualistic podium stumble were given a welcome return within the paddock with open arms. 281 grands prix, and it never ever gets old.
So congratulations Rubens!! Enjoy the experience and let’s hope it continues for more wins in the future. He may be in the twilight of his career now but he’s still one driver you should never, ever underestimate. Plus he’s a nice guy to boot - what are the chances?!