Friday, June 20, 2008

Now it’s a Record!

Although Rubens Barrichello and Honda F1 Racing have already celebrated the Brazilian’s accomplishment of completing 257 starts at the Spanish Grand Prix, many of us including myself have stuck to the figures provided by F1 Racing and other such sources which have slightly disagreed with the numbers the ageless Rubino used to reach his milestone, while I suppose we could argue over the statistical anomalies for countless hours, eh?

Like all major Formula 1 drivers, both previous record holder Ricardo Patrese and Barrichello both began their motor racing careers by racing go karts and then moving up the junior ranks prior to beginning their illustrious careers in Formula 1.

Patrese made his F1 debut in 1977 for the Shadow team before moving to Arrows the following season, when several Shadow team members left to start-up the Arrows outfit. Due to his overly aggressive driving style, Ricardo was accused of triggering an accident which led to the death of Ronnie Peterson and was subsequently banned by his fellow drivers when the GPDA successfully had Patrese refused entry to the following Grand Prix, (Watkins Glen; USGP East) leaving great bitterness between his fellow competitors, most notably World Champion James Hunt.

Patrese then moved onto Messer Ecclestone’s Brabham team to partner triple World Champion Nelson Piquet from 1982-83, before switching to Alfa Romeo from 1984-85, prior to returning to Brabham for a further two seasons. (1986-87) In 1988, the Italian made the switch to Sir Frank Williams racing team and would stay thru as teammate to Nigel Mansell’s clinching of his lone driver’s title in 1992 prior to spending his last season in Formula One alongside some young German up and comer named Michael Schumacher…

SPEED’s Professor Matchett has waxed on eloquently about being the man to have strapped in Ricardo for those final 16 starts which propelled the Italian to the staggering total of 256 Grand Prix starts, as Patrese holds two lesser known records of scoring points the longest number of years along with longest separation between Grand Prix victories; Monaco, 1982 and Suzuka, 1992, as the likeable Italian scored a total of six wins and eight poles between 1977-93.

Ironically the torch for F1 “Supermen” would be passed from elder statesmen Patrese to a young fresh faced Brazilian in 1993, as Barrichello would begin his rookie Formula 1 season for the Jordan Grand Prix concern that very season, showing up his more experienced teammates Ivan Capelli and Thierry Boutsen by claiming his first career pole at Spa Francorchamps that year before scoring his maiden GP points at Suzuka, finishing fifth, one place ahead of his new teammate Eddie “IRV THE SWERVE” Irvine.

Although I only recall being focused upon the ascending super Star Herr Schumacher in ’93, my first recollections of Barrichello’s talent was aboard those distinctly painted Sasol Jordan’s which the plucky Irishman’s team seemed to continuously make deals with the wrong engine suppliers, which ultimately led to Rubens decision to leave the team and sign-up to drive for the upstart Stewart Grand Prix concern in 1997, where BArrichello scored a superb second in the rain soaked Monaco GP in only the team’s fifth race. Barrichello would remain with the Stewarts for three seasons prior to being called up as Schumacher’s vigilant wingman in 2000, and would score his maiden Grand Prix victory in the bizarre German GP, (Nurburgring) where a nutso priest would wander about the racing line in protest before being tackled and removed forcibly from the tarmac!

Fed up with playing the dutiful number two behind German Wunderkind Schuey, Rubino signed up to drive alongside Honda’s Jenson Button for the 2006 season, where he now looks set to finish out his Grand Prix career at, as Barrichello has scored 13 poles and 9 victories, with the latter all coming during his Scuderia Ferrari days...