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Autosport Awards

Gregor Grant Award: R. Barrichello

Formula 1 veteran Rubens Barrichello has been presented with a Gregor Grant Award at tonight's AUTOSPORT Awards

Gregor Grant Award: R. Barrichello

This year the Brazilian driver - already the most experienced racer in F1 history - passed the 300-grand prix mark, and continued to show plenty of speed and fighting spirit in his first season with Williams, which raved about both his pace and his technical ability.

Barrichello received his award from 1996 world champion Damon Hill, and said he was proud to get the award given his long association with the British motorsport scene, with his 1991 British Formula 3 title having been pivotal in his rise towards F1.

"I had a terrific time in England," said Barrichello. "I lived here for a long time. I did Formula Vauxhall lotus and F3 too. It's like a second home.

"I'm so proud to get this trophy. It's been a long time and involved a lot of passion and a lot of speed."

Barrichello originally joined F1 aged just 20 when he signed for Jordan in 1993, and famously ran as high as second in the wet at Donington Park in only his third race.

By 1994 he was a podium finisher, although that season was marred by the death of his close friend and mentor Ayrton Senna.

After various underdog successes for the Jordan and Stewart teams, Barrichello's career took a dramatic new direction when he stepped up to Ferrari for 2000 as team-mate to Michael Schumacher.

Barrichello's six years with the legendary Italian team would bring him nine grand prix wins and two runner-up finishes in the championship, though he soon found that he was destined to spend his Ferrari sojourn in Schumacher's shadow.

He subsequently moved to the Honda team, a switch that brought little joy until the Japanese company's exit saw its former squad reborn as Brawn GP - allowing Barrichello to return to the top step of the podium and chase team-mate Jenson Button for last year's title. He heads into his 19th season of F1 with Williams in 2011, and says he is enjoying the sport more than ever.

"It's almost like when I got to Williams we were talking the same language, both moving towards the same thing, and it's fun," said Barrichello on stage.

"At race three Sam Michael asked me 'how do you know the answer to this question?' I said 'Because I'm damn good...' We worked hard, improved the car and I'm sure next year will be even better."

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