D he Formula 1 has often changed its face since 1993. Rubens Barrichello is still there. Fresher than ever. The 37-year-old Brazilian’s 17th season was his best. Third place in the World Cup, two wins and the chance to win the title up to the penultimate Grand Prix. Barrichello has seen a lot in his 285 GP starts. Race with and without refueling stops, with and without tire changes. Slicks and grooved tires. 3.5-liter V12, three-liter ten-cylinder and 2.4-liter V8 engines. Traction control yes and no. Cars two and six feet wide. All dimensions of front and rear wings, all types of sub-floors. Minimum weights of 505 kilograms without a driver up to 605 kilograms with.
Barrichello often had to adapt
Every change in the regulations had an impact on driving behavior. And Barrichello changed with it. “I have adjusted my driving style every time. Only one thing stayed the same: I'm always on the attack. ”Barrichello only learned to adapt his driving style at Ferrari, seven years after his debut. “When I got to Maranello, they said to me: Schumacher drives with zero toe-in at the front. I replied that I couldn't drive like this because the car would then turn in too abruptly. ”The lap times forced Ferrari's number 1b to rethink. “I was significantly slower than Michael because I had to struggle with understeer that he didn't have. So I forced myself to adopt his suspension setting and adapt my driving style to it. '
When Barrichello describes his driving style, he makes a comparison:' Massa and Hamilton like a car that oversteers slightly in the first part of the cornering. During this phase, I need a vehicle that does not oversteer. If I'm beyond this point, I don't care about understeer or oversteer. I'll manage that somehow. ”In his years with Jordan and Stewart, Barrichello was one of the early brakes. “That's why I was always the first to hit the gas.” Michael Schumacher was the exact opposite. The record world champion got into the irons extremely late. Barrichello's lesson: “I then chose a middle path, more in the direction of slow braking. For that I had to accelerate a little later when accelerating. ”
Traction control in the right foot
The Mercedes V8 fit perfectly into Barrichello's profile. 'In comparison, the Honda engine worked like a switch.' The ban on traction control was a long-running favorite from Sao PauloBlessing: “I have my traction control in my right foot. The electronic driving aids were good for pilots who trusted God to use this technology for themselves. Michael was one of them. ”
The World Cup third party is the last right brake in the field. “I normally brake 90 percent with my right foot. Only in Suzuka is the ratio 50 to 50. There are many corners in which you accelerate and at the same time stand lightly on the brakes with your left foot to stabilize the car - and disadvantages
Barrichello is surprised that he has never completely changed. “In the kart I only brake left. But when I brake hard in a Formula 1 car, only my right foot gives me the necessary feedback from the brake pedal. I can better feel when the rear brakes lock. My advantage is that I can do both. There are places where Jenson Button took my braking time off because he didn't have to switch from the brake to the accelerator with his right foot. I was better off on stop-and-go courses because I can develop more feeling with my right foot when braking. ”
The brakes may also have decided the World Championship. Barrichello changed the disc material from the GP England. From Hitco to Brembo. A small intervention with a big impact. The answer shows how complicated Formula 1 has become and how much everything hangs by a thread: “The Hitco discs are actually ideal for me. You develop bite immediately and the braking effect is easy to control. So I can brake later. Unfortunately, with this material in the Brawn GP, the rear brake discs overheated, especially when there was a lot of gasoline on board, i.e. in the last qualifying lap and in the race. We therefore had to remove the rear wheel covers, which cost half a percent downforce. The air pressure of the tires increased, which resulted in less grip. ”
A change of supplier brought Wend
Brembo had the solution. “These discs are not quite as sensitive to temperature. Since I've been using it, the tire pressure has stayed within the desired window and I've been able to achieve the braking balance I wanted. ”Barrichello's driving style is pretty lonely among his colleagues. 'My former stable mate Martin Brundle once said to me: No one else drives as funny as you.'
In terms of being different, only Alonso resembles the Brazilian. “Fernando drives really weird,” laughs Barrichello. “He takes a lot of speed into the curve. I did a few laps behind him in Singapore and wondered how he does it. It was so great that I wanted to applaud in the car. ”