Twelve months can be enough time for large changes in anyone’s life. It can see seasons come and go, global economies wax and wane. In the course of a year, deals can be done, leaders can be elected and Rubens Barrichello can go from glorious victory to visceral obscurity.
A simple year has passed since Barrichello won the European Grand Prix of Valencia and as we head back to the street circuit we can’t help but look back and ask the simple question: What has happened to Rubens Barrichello?
In 2009 the stage was set for a McLaren comeback with Lewis Hamilton on pole for the race through the port section of town. It was a bungled pit stop that allowed Barichello, then a Brawn GP driver, to snatch his first win since 2004 ending a 5-year drought. The Brazilian was elated as well he should be.
The win also propelled Barrichello to a heightened performance as he began a run on his world championship leading teammate Jenson Button. A year can change a lot of things and 2010 has not been kind to Barrichello and it seems a long way from that podium in Valencia.
Williams F1 have not given Barrichello the tools to win. It’s a simple as that. Barrichello’s move was explained in the press as his only option and while that may be true, the veteran driver was making the best of it with a sense of hope and calm optimism heading in to 2010. That was to be unrewarded with a struggling performance that has become Williams F1’s worst year in the teams rich history of victory.
I have great memories of Valencia. I won the race there last year, it was my tenth win so it was great fun. It was also significant because it really pulled me back into contention for the championship. Cosworth is doing well to improve its consistency and the team are bringing some more upgrades to Spain so I’m looking forward to seeing where their combined efforts put us. The challenge in Valencia is to get into Q3 and score some points.
What has happened to Williams F1? It would be difficult to suggest that Barrichello is anything but effective, competitive and capable of winning races. Valencia has proven that for us. What 2010 is proving to us is that without the car, Barrichello is ineffective and that can be said of the best drivers in the world.
I would be hard pressed to lay any blame on the Brazilian and know that given the opportunity, Barrichello would be challenging for the win but fate has played another hand and the bigger questions might be, can Barrichello retain the patience he had at Ferrari and Brawn GP? Will he ever have another chance like had at his previous employers?