F1 Birthdays: 23/5/2011

He’s been in Formula One for almost all of my life, and so I can’t remember a time when he hasn’t been driving. Mostly I remember the Ferrari era when he was partnered with Michael Schumacher, but more recently there’s been the Brawn year when he had such a successful time with Jenson Button. Yes, it’s Rubens Barrichello‘s 39th birthday today.
Rubens Barrichello began his racing career in the UK, winning the British Formula 3 championship in 1991 ahead of David Coulthard. In 1992, he nearly began driving in F1 but instead went to Formula 3000, finishing third. The next year he became a driver for Eddie Jordan, and finished 18th in what was not a great car.
He stayed with Jordan until 1996, taking one pole in 1994 and getting a podium in 94 and 95. His best championship finish was 6th.
Stewart was an up-and-coming team in those days, so from 1997-1999 he drove for the team. He managed to secure his second-ever pole position in his final year at the team, finishing three times on the podium for what was his best points total ever, finishing 7th in the championship.
Ferrari saw his potential and brought him into the team in 2000 – the year their car began to dominate and when Michael Schumacher began winning championships in a serious way. In his first season he had 1 win, 1 pole, 3 fastest laps and 9 podiums overall to finish 4th. In 2001 he had 10 podiums and finished 3rd, and in 2002 he had 4 wins, 3 poles, 5 fastest laps and 10 podiums overall to come second to his dominant teammate.
He never again had quite such a good year with Ferrari, though in 2004 he finished 2nd with 114 points. In 2005 he had his final year with the team as Fernando Alonso took his first championshup. He finished four times on the podium that year, for a mediocre 38 points. So Rubens left Ferrari to find a new team while his teammate stayed on one more year and then retired.
The next stop was Honda, which wasn’t doing too badly at the time. But the team struggled in 2007 and 2008, and began losing the company money. In 2010 they had to leave, but Ross Brawn bought the team and his car shone with Mercedes engines. Barrichello finished 3rd behind Vettel in a Red Bull that was beginning to show itself off and his teammate Jenson Button.
When the team became Mercedes, Rubens went to Williams and had a good year in 2010. He managed to get in some clashes with returnee Michael Schumacher – the frustration from their Ferrari days still there – but managed to match the performance of the Force Indias. This year, the car has been terrible and he’s earned no points so far. Generally he has been able to outperform his teammate when the car has been working properly. However, Pastor Maldonado’s great performance on Saturday suggested that there was speed and ability in the FW33.


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