Q & A with Rubens Barrichello

Rubens Barrichello was at Barcelona today, where he watched Button set the fourth quickest time of the day in the team's new car

Q & A with Rubens Barrichello

The Brazilian talked to the media this afternoon about his high expectations for the coming season ahead of his first taste of the car in testing tomorrow.

Q. Are you happy to still be here in Formula One?

Rubens Barrichello: I am delighted to be here. Like I have said to some of you guys, and you've seen on the column on my website, for some reason I could not confirm that I would be racing - but I didn't feel Interlagos was my last race. Something told me it wasn't. So I had three months at least on being patient, losing weight and keeping firm, talking to the team instead of talking to other people, so I kept it quite silent. And it worked perfectly. I am so glad I am going to drive the car tomorrow.

Q. How close was it between you and Bruno Senna?

RB: That you are going to have to ask Ross (Brawn).

Q. But you must have a feeling about that?

RB: I don't think my chance came this winter. I think my chance started when I was running for Ferrari. Some people might not know my speed, but Ross Brawn does. I have a feeling that it didn't start then, I have a feeling that Ross had to go through a lot of stuff, but seeing the outcome, that I am driving, I think it was his wish since the first time I said I would like to keep driving.

Q. How influential was it that you had already seen the developments of the new car last year?

RB: No, because we didn't have an engine until January, so that was affecting the whole structure of the team and the way they would go for some of the stuff - like gearbox and stiffness. We didn't know if we had a Ferrari or a Mercedes-Benz. I just knew we had a good engine and that made me feel good.

I don't think the decision was done based on what I knew from the team. We did very little at the end of the year, I had tested the slicks but when I tested them in July or August, it was a different tyre altogether. The tyres are much more developed now, so I don't think the situation was developed from what I knew about the team.

Q. You said you had a feeling that you would still be in the team. Can you explain that a little bit more?

RB: Nothing that can be explained. All I heard at that last race in Brazil was people saying, how does it feel that this could be my last race? Something told me that it wasn't my last race, but I don't think it is explainable. I just felt very secure and all my friends and family, that is what they tell me now - how could you feel so secure?

I went to the gym not because I wanted to show my body on the beach, it was because I knew I was driving the car. But nobody told me I was driving the car, it was a case of being good within myself and to keep on working. I went every day to the gym thinking I had to keep my body strong, my neck strong, because at some point somebody would call and I would have to drive.

So, that is what I have done and I have done it with some security from myself. But nobody told me, apart from Ross who kept telling me to keep fit as we might call you.

Q. Having seen the time Jenson has done today, it looks interesting doesn't it?

RB: It looks interesting. But all of a sudden people will write that we are lucky something happened. But I must congratulate the whole team for the effort done since this car was started to be made in May/June last year. There was a lot of effort and a lot of things behind that, so we knew aerodynamically that the car had all the potential to be strong, so today is only a good proof of that. We are delighted that the car is running reliably and I am so pleased I am going to be driving it tomorrow.

Q. And more pleased that you will be driving it in Australia?

RB: Well, I am not going to Australia differently to before: some people are saying I am going there happy because I am going to keep my numbers. It is something that I am pleased about, but it will be one day in 10 years time when we are sat down with a glass of wine saying I competed in 300 grands prix. For me it matters nothing, apart from the fact that I am only back to win. It has been a tough two or three years, and I am not here to promise anything but I am only here competing because I feel I have the chance to win. The day that that doesn't happen, I don't care anything about the numbers.

Q. How much has the regulation change helped the team, because you were developing the car from so early last year?

RB: Obviously it does help when you have the change in the regulations early enough for you to point out how the development should go. But everyone had the same time, and you could argue that we had more time because we saw last year was so bad in terms of results that people started to put more effort into the new car, but so did everyone else. They had different groups of people working on separate things.

We have a good bunch of people there and last year was a tough one because of several things. We were lacking speed on the straight and we were not fast enough, so with all the programme to discuss how many stops we were going to do, you always had a bad feeling. You had to do one stop less than people to try and get somewhere, so a lot was done. And it was a shock when I received the news that Honda was quitting, as it was for everybody.

That is when you see the real friends come along and come alive. It was a really nice group of people at Brackley that developed this car as if it would always have happened, just like I felt for myself that I was always going to drive. I don't know where we stand right now, but I feel the car is competitive and we are going to have a good season.

Q. You've worked with Ross Brawn for a long time. Could you ever have imagined a day when he would become a team owner?

RB: Talking to him personally on the side, I think he can answer that more than I can do. I don't think he ever thought he could become the owner. The idea was always to sell the team to somebody who had money and who wanted to take the team on board and make it happen. It was a solution for him to become an owner. I can't answer for him but I think he had mixed emotions when the car went out. It was sort of: wow the car is going and it has my name - I thought he was on a mixed emotion.

Q. How do you think he will fare as a team owner? What will he bring the team?

RB: To be very honest with you, I think it will change very little. He is the guy who is going to give everything for the team to go. But he is a boss in the way he was last year. The only change is that right now he is on top of everything, plus it is his car. So he is the one behind this car coming alive. Everything was reported to him when they made modifications to the aerodynamics or someone wanted to do something different on the suspension, so you could say this car is very much Ross's things.

Q. Are you optimistic about the performance of this year?

RB: Yes, absolutely. Like I said, I think it would not be my desire to just come in and compete with something that I did not think was good just to make up the numbers. I had the best four months of my life in one way - I had my family and my friends and I worked with no pressure, which was really good. So I could see that one day when I stop that I will have a good and normal life.

But after two weeks like that I was already driving fast on the road. I was already having this feeling that I cannot stop. It is something odd and talking to the team I knew what the car was coming to, and the good numbers on the aerodynamics and everything made me feel that I could still compete on a higher level and go to win. So I have to dream every day to wake up and do that - and I feel that that is very, very possible.

Q. Did you consider other championships?

RB: No. I think it was amazing how you guys write it down, and then the other guys in Brazil they copy. And then it gets translated to Italian and it becomes Russian, and then it goes around. It is amazing how many stories I have seen about my name that were all basically untrue.

For me, the worst was the one that said Senna had already signed for three years with the team - the team that not even had a name or an owner. That was the worst story created by some of the press, but it was funny how I saw my name in IRL, in Champ Car, in Stock Cars. In actual honestly I was racing go karts in Brazil just to keep fit.

Q. How will this team behave differently now that it is not Honda anymore, with Ross on board?

RB: Is it going to be like a small Stewart family working? It might be a smaller team just working together, not going through too many people to get an answer. It might work in our favour. I think Honda have done brilliantly and I am sorry to see them go, but you have got to say that there is always a culture difference and a difficulty in the language. So it was a tough thing.

Coming from that tough moment, walking through the desert and not seeing the end - right now we are at the end. So now the smaller team could be an affirmative answer to all the problems. All I wanted to see at the team was what I found at Ferrari - they were really good at winning together and losing together. The team is quite small now, so it could be like that. That is what I am looking forward to working on, and I am sure Ross is in the same boat. That is what makes it a competitive F1 team. It is not going to the press and saying this is bad or this is good, it is about winning together and losing together and working on the problem.

Q. If you are with a small team when you grow you know every role is vital. Is there a danger when you are shrinking that you get rid of the wrong people?

RB: It could be. But, to be very honest I don't want to get into the political point. I don't know how many people will be told to go home, if any. Whenever you have something big and it shrinks, you want to keep the good ones. You could be saying, okay, these two used to do two different jobs and we need to send one home and now this one (remaining) will do both jobs. This is a bad thing, definitely. You want the good people to do whatever they are good at. Ferrari always had people doing their jobs correctly.

That is the modern life in F1; it is not only us suffering that. I think the crisis is coming on the whole world. I've been in America for some of my vacation with my family and I could not believe how many shops were closing. Shops where you went there a month ago and they were huge, so it is a bit of the modern world where it will shrink.

Q. You've talked about the effect on morale. Does it affect the workplace?

RB: I don't want to get too much into that. It is the fact that the morale, everyone should feel satisfied with what they have done to this car. And I think it was great when Ross went upstairs and talked to 700 people at the factory to say that everyone had an input on the car, and even not knowing they were staying, they gave everything. Of course you don't want to see your friends going, but at the end of the day I think everyone should feel satisfied to see the car running.

Q. Have you spoken to Bruno Senna?

RB: I have tried. I left a message on his answer machine. We are good friends and although we haven't talked for the past few months where we are fighting for position, it has nothing to do with us. It is sheer coincidence that we ended up on the same place at the same time. But I wish him all the very best. For someone who has four years of experience, he has done fantastically well.

He has a future in F1 for sure. I haven't seen anyone just yet with the capability of having run four years in cars, and all of a sudden getting to F1 and doing so well like he did in testing. I am just lucky that at this time F1 changed a little bit and because of a lack of testing it is going to more experienced driving again - but I wish him all the very best.

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