The 37th episode of F1 Beyond The Grid podcast of 2019 has Rubens Barrichello speak about his career, Ayrton Senna/Michael Schumacher, Brawn GP and more.
The latest Beyond The Grid podcast had the most experienced F1 driver of all time [at the moment] that was sitting down across the table from Tom Clarkson, to discuss comedy, careers, and crashes, it was none other than, Barrichello.
The podcast began with the obligatory question of ‘How did you fall in love with F1?’. His answer was equally standard, as he mentioned that his dad purchased him a go-kart at a young age, prompting him to become besotted with the sport.
From there, Barrichello talked about his first experience at a Grand Prix, in which he witnessed Mario Andetti crash right before his eyes. He, however, did note that money was very much an obstacle in his career, as he told an anecdote about how his father told him they could not attend the Brazilian karting championship – a moment which caused him to cry as he thought about it years later in Hockenheim for his first win.
While his financials always kept him away from F1 in the early years, it was never too far from home, particularly as his house was placed right next to the Interlagos track, which the Barrichello told as being a highly influential thing on his life.
The Brazilian then told that his proximity to Interlagos later allowed him to meet Emmerson Fittipaldi, who was the brother of one of his karting opponents. The duo then touched on his horrific luck at the circuit, which haunted him for years, as he only finished four of 15 races at the track, and had bad results at many of those four.
Looking at the larger picture of his foray into F1, Barrichello spoke on the buzz and adrenaline the sport provides – a feeling he missed so dearly that he later drove in the Australian S5000 series, seeking similar excitement, as he also noted that he has never stopped karting, for this emotion.
The conversation then switched gears to the subject of three-time F1 champion Senna, who had a heavy hand in the course of Barrichello’s 19-year career. He cited something ‘different’ as being what made Senna great, and better than Nelson Piquet – a topic which the 47 year-old has plenty of knowledge on.
Barrichello then told that this relationship continued through all the way to his F1 career beginnings, in 1993, when Senna greeted him into the paddock. They also talked about Barrichello’s Imola 1994 crash, which saw him sent flying into the wall.
The Brazilian, however, was not able to tell much regarding the incident, as he lost his memory about the days surrounding the crash – something which he reckons blessing in disguise, as he tells has very little memory of his hero, Senna’s, fatal accident which took place just days later.
He also notes that he has no recollection of attending Senna’s funeral, which he flew back to Brazil for. He, though, did mention that this lack of memory saved him from extra grief, but he still regrets having never said goodbye to his great friend.
From there, he theorized about what Senna might be doing today had he survived the accident, but ruled out the idea of the three-time champion becoming a team principle, due to his hatred of the political side. The topic then changed to that of a lighter nature, as they discussed Barrichelllo’s nearly-amazing 1993 Donington, where he sat second before a devastating engine issue.
From there, they conversed about the risk involved with his move to Stewart in 1997, as the team was yet to be established, particularly when he had offers from other, more stable teams such as Sauber.
Barrichello then explained that Jackie Stewart had been very persuasive in his decision, and even tried to convince him to stay when he opted to leave the team and test himself against Schumacher at Ferrari, despite his good relationship with the German, which then continued through, even as Schumacher was never supportive of the Brazilian.
Moving to the later stages of his Ferrari experience, he discussed how he had no problem being the German’s number two, as the sacrifices his father made for him taught him to sacrifice for Schumacher’s benefit.
Barrichello, however, was not happy with Austria 2002, after he fought for eight laps on the radio before letting down his guard, and releasing Schumacher through, but still received backlash for the incident, which he says people focus on too much and criticize him for too much, even though he feels 99% of people would have done the same in that scenario.
They then chatted about Schumacher’s mettle as a driver, as Barrichello cited his entry speed into every turn, which he says he learned from and adopted himself, although, even with this extra entry speed skill, the Brazilian reckons Lewis Hamilton will beat his record of championships, but he was hesitant to compare the two in talent, due to generational differences.
Barrichello also felt that, in their time at Ferrari, he had the mental edge over the now seven-time champion, and, on equal terms, would have beaten him in 2003. He also labelled that as the highlight of his Ferrari years.
Next up on the list of things talked about was the 2009 F1 season at Brawn GP, which Barrichello tells as being particularly special by the panic leading into it, during the winter of 2009, in which he was left without a drive, until a last-second phone call from Ross Brawn gave him a seat for just four races.
Barrichello also admitted he did not expect much, until the first couple of corners, when he knew how planted the rear was, and how much downforce the car produced. Back to his general career, he recalled the 2010 Hungarian GP, in which Schumacher, the man he labelled as his toughest rival, squeezed him against the barriers.
The Brazilian said that he had his eyes shut going down the straight, out of fear. He also revealed that, during that 2010 season, he had an offer to join Mclaren, which he promptly rejected. To round out the F1 podcast, the duo talked about Barrichello’s son, who is 18, and will be racing in Europe in 2021.
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The story was written by Duncan Leahy and edited by Darshan Chokhani