Q & A with Rubens Barrichello

There is little doubt that the story of the off-season has been Brawn GP. And indeed, on the eve of the first race in Melbourne, the team remains the hot talking point in the paddock

Q & A with Rubens Barrichello

With a quick car, the team could be on the verge of a sensational result in the Australian Grand Prix - considering the team's future was in doubt until only a few weeks ago.

With such a buzz around the team, AUTOSPORT caught up with Rubens Barrichello to gauge his excitement about Brawn GP, his hopes for the season and why he is happier now than he ever was at Ferrari.

Q: When we spoke before Christmas you said just coming to Melbourne in the first place would be a dream. Now, with the car as quick as it looks, things are even better than that aren't they?

Rubens Barrichello: "Yes. Those times were tough in a way that although I talked weekly to Ross [Brawn], and was telling me, 'this guy came to buy the team and it should be okay', then it wouldn't be okay. Things were changing so much that it was difficult to just keep breathing steadily.

"They were tough times. I had the holiday of my life, as it was four months at home with my kids. It was great. But after three weeks I was fed up, I wanted to be driving again. So this is a dream come true.

"People think I am relieved, but that is not the right word. I have always had the positive thinking that I would be here, so it wasn't different when I came here with my pass and went through the gates as a driver. But it is better than I ever thought."

Q: Jenson Button said after the first Barcelona test that getting in the car and feeling how good it was made him feel reborn. Is it a similar feeling for you?

Barrichello: "Yes. After three years of some delusions and the car not being fast, it was nice just to drive it out of the garage - feeling the power of the engine plus the whole balance of it. The team did a fantastic job.

"People are talking about Ross all the time, and he has the biggest role, but we cannot forget the aerodynamic guys and the people who created this car because it is a super car. Now, there is going to be polemics because a super car always creates polemics. There has been McLaren in the past, there has been Ferrari in the past and I am sure Brawn GP will cause some people to really think.

"We used the good times at the factory as a laboratory to improve the car - and that is almost as effective as taking to the track. So the four months was very, very good for making improvements."

Q: People are talking about Brawn GP as favourites for this weekend and potential championship contenders. Do you share that same optimism?

Barrichello: "Yes, I believe so. From what I have seen, the car is super-competitive and we just need to see how the year develops. For sure we are with a small budget, no sponsors just yet, so it is going to be a tough year on that side.

"But having said that, I think F1 is more open to the small teams - no testing and other limits. So that is going to be in our favour, and I do believe that this car is super competitive."

Q: And what about you having a point to prove, with some people saying last year that Rubens was finished?

Barrichello: "I consider Jenson to be a super driver, a super fast driver. And like everyone else, people have good and bad days. Michael didn't have many bad days, but Jenson has them and I have them.

"On his day, though, he can be as fast as Michael and I finished in front of him last year. To be honest, I don't think I have too much to prove. I just have to collect the bonus of driving a good car now, and win for myself and win for the team."

Q: It could be that your last years in the sport are your most successful?

Barrichello: "It could be. Last year, if it was my last one and if it was the end, it would be bad. I had a super Silverstone grand prix, but it wasn't what I am here for. I wanted more. So, now I have that. It is almost like I have everything I have asked for. Get out of Ferrari, and have a nice team working for me and my teammate. At Ferrari everything was for Michael.

"So when I got to Honda, it was for me and my teammate, but I never had the car or equipment to do it. And now I do have it. And, I am sure it is going to be a healthy fight between myself and Jenson. We both want to win, but the most important thing is to make the momentum that is going on, all the talk about it, into a proper championship contender."

Q: Have all the politics surrounding the diffuser been a cloud over the build-up?

Barrichello: "To be honest, that is something for Ross to talk about. I understand that it is ourselves, Toyota and Williams that people are talking about, and they are probably the three teams that are going quite fast.

"But it is not the only basis of the car. If you take the whole diffuser out, it will lose some time but it is not going to lose much. The car is competitive for what it is - it is a whole bunch of things."

Q: Do you think it is as competitive as it has appeared from testing?

Barrichello: "It has a great long run pace. We are not as well prepared as we would like to be, because we had six days with the car and that is very, very little.

"But all-in-all we are so happy with the performance of it, and I think we are going to learn a lot more than what people think. There are still set-up jobs to be done, there are still things to learn about the car, so it is a good thing."

Q: How have you found the reaction in the paddock - as most people seem to want you to do well?

Barrichello: "The journalists and the drivers are all thinking about how quick it is, but because there are stories going around saying that maybe the car is illegal, it means there is a back-off from the public.

"The public is now waiting to see the car on the track and seeing if it is fast or not. It is not like everyone already has said it is the car to beat - the guys from the paddock, the ones that understand the speed of the year, yes - but the public has backed off a little bit."

Q: And were you desperate to get out there?

Barrichello: "Oh man, yes. The saddest thing about the last four months was not driving the car. I didn't miss anything else. It was just driving the car."

Q: Is the feeling you have now similar to when you were at Ferrari, when you knew you had a good car beneath you?

Barrichello: "It is better. It is much better, because I know I don't have to divide anything with anyone. Now it is a fair thing with a competitive car.

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