Brawn backs Barrichello
Ross Brawn, the former Ferrari chassis wizard who took a leave from Ferrari and then recently jumped to Honda, has expressed confidence in Honda’s driver, Rubens Barrichello. Barichello formerly drove for Ferrari at the time Brawn was employed there.
Though Barrichello had a miserable season this year, scoring not a single championship point, Brawn has told the Formula One website that he believes the car is as much the reason as the driver.
“Rubens has one year remaining of his contract. I think the past year was very difficult to judge either driver because of the problems with the car. Personally I think there is no reason not to continue with them as both have proven that they can win races and they are both on very high standards. I don’t have any concerns about the drivers. There are much bigger challenges for the team overall and for me than the drivers."
The statement appears to have been issued to squelch speculation that Honda would give Barrichello the boot to make room for Fernando Alonso, recently released with glee by McLaren. Barrichello faithfully served Ferrari as number two driver to Michael Schumacher during Schumacher’s prime years, and Honda may well believe that the rebuilding of their team is better accomplished with a steady driver, such as Barrichello, rather than a prima donna, such as Alonso.
Rumors had been floating that Alonso had visited Honda headquarters. Many, however, believe that Alonso is merely waiting to see whether Renault emerges unscathed from the FIA hearing set for later this week. Should Renault’s position not be handicapped, it is expected that Alonso will return to that team, for which he drove prior to his stint at McLaren.
No matter what, Alonso has put himself out of contention for the two most competitive teams in Formula One, McLaren and Ferrari. Ferrari has made it clear that its driver line up for next year is set. That leaves Alonso with second-tier teams, or worse. In the end, he may be forced to take what he can get, an ironic result of his inability to maximize the potential which was available to him from McLaren.