For the past nineteen years, one name has been found on the entry list for every single Formula One race: Rubens Barrichello. On March 14th in South Africa, the Brazilian began his career with Jordan. He qualified fourteenth, a long way begind polesitter Prost and second-place Ayrton Senna. Even Schumacher for Benneton was 1.5s behind those two. All but seven drivers were unclassified, and two of the classified drivers were non-finishers. His first points came at the Japanese Grand Prix that year, as he took fifth ahead of Eddie Irvine – the British driver taking part in his first race.
The next year began well, and he took points at his home race before his first podium at the Pacific Grand Prix behind Berger and Schumacher. Then came the San Marino Grand Prix, and the Brazilian was injured in practice. We all know the events of that tragic weekend. He picked up some more fourth places and came sixth in the championship.
The Braziliam would drive for Jordan for two more years, taking second place at the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix behind Jean Alesi. Then in 1997, he became one of Stewart’s first drivers alongside Jan Magnussen. The car was fragile, but Barrichello brought it home in Monaco for second place and their first points thanks to the Bridgestone tyres’ quality in the wet.
He continued with the team for the remaining two years of its existence, and got three podiums in 1999 as well as pole position in France.
The Brazilian impressed Ferrari and the team brought him in to partner (and follow) Michael Schumacher the next year. Schumacher won the first race, with Barrichello second and taking the fastest lap. He took his first win at the Hockenheimring, and finished fourth in the championship.
Ferrari favouritism kept Barrichello from winning the championship, but he stuck with the team until 2005. His next move was to Honda, who in 2007 would struggle – even losing to their junior team Super Aguri. At the end of 2008, Honda decided to pull out of F1, and it seemed Barrichello’s career was over after sixteen seasons. Ross Brawn, however, gave the Brazilian a chance as he bought the team very cheaply from its owners. Brawn’s genius gave Rubens two more wins, and the team a championship. Then, Brawn was bought by Mercedes.
Three new teams were formed in 2010, and there was a lot of movement in the driver market. Rubens moved to Williams, where he did a great job for a struggling team. But at the start of 2012 it seems his time is over. Youth and potential (not to mention money) are what they need now.
Nineteen years, 326 entries, 322 starts, 11 wins, 68 podiums, and not forgetting over 1 million Twitter followers. Sadly, we probably won’t see more of Rubens Barrichello in F1. He may not have won a championship, but he will be sorely missed.