In January of this year, Williams announced that Bruno Senna would join the team to drive alongside Pastor Maldonado. The announcement meant the end, at least for the moment, of Rubens Barrichello’s Formula One career. The choice of drivers was fairly obviously financially based, with both Maldonado and Senna bringing significant sponsorship to the team. But what they brought in funding they lacked in experience, with only one full season each in the sport.
Maldonado has demonstrated that he is very quick when the circumstances are right. The Venezuelan driver won this year’s Spanish Grand Prix from pole position with a mature and measured drive that greatly impressed everyone in Formula One. However, he had to wait almost five full months for his next points finish – at last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix- and produced some scrappy performances in between, showing just how new he is to the top level of motor sport.
Senna’s Formula One career has got off to a difficult and unsettled start. He raced for back-of-the-field HRT in 2010, before joining Renault as their reserve driver for 2011. When Nick Heidfeld departed from the team mid-way through the season, Senna was given the opportunity to drive for the team in the last eight races of the season. Now with Williams, he has yet to set the track alight with his speed, but has performed consistently and is now only eight points behind Maldonado in the Drivers’ Championship.
While both Maldonado and Senna could have long and successful careers ahead of them, their lack of experience has a crucial downside for the Williams team. They are unlikely to be able to extract maximum performance from the car on a consistent basis. Furthermore, they do not have experience in developing a front-running car, unlike more seasoned veterans such as former Williams driver Barrichello.
The 2012 Williams FW34 car is a good car. The victory in Spain clearly shows that. But one has to wonder if a more experienced driver could have done more with the available equipment. Rubens Barrichello is the most experienced driver in Formula One history. He was team-mate to Michael Schumacher at Ferrari during the most dominant period of the team’s history. He has unique and valuable experience that could only help an outfit like Williams to re-assert itself as a front-running team.
Williams discarded Barrichello too soon, and are now paying the price for that decision. The Williams driver line-up for 2013 has not yet been confirmed, and it is possible that the team could look to recruit at least one experienced driver. It would certainly make sense to have a mix of youth and experience going forward. The current youth-only formula is not likely to work long-term.
Rubens Barrichello has joined KV Racing to compete in the IndyCar series this season.
After losing his seat at Williams in Formula One, Barrichello tested twice for KV Racing, and apparently impressed them well enough to secure a race seat.
After a long Formula One career, Barrichello would be forgiven for thinking about retirement, but his experience and enthusiasm for racing have resulted in this new partnership that could bring surprising results. After 19 years in F1, he undoubtedly knows how to compete at the highest level, and should prove to be a valuable member of KV Racing’s team.
Historically, the switch from Formula One to IndyCar is easier than the other way round. Nigel Mansell won the Indy title at his first attempt in 1993 after becoming Formula One World Champion the previous year. Whether Barrichello will have the same sort of success in Indy remains to be seen, but he should be competitive quite quickly.
The IndyCar series kicks off on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida on 25 March.
Rubens Barrichello is set to test for Indycar team KV Racing for a second time. The Brazilian tweeted today: “…I am very happy that I will be testing again for
@kvracing . If my Indy deal comes along it is better that I prepare myself.”
Barrichello lost his seat in Formula One at Williams to Bruno Senna, and subsequently tested for KV Racing with a view to possibly making the switch to Indy racing. This second test suggests that a deal with KV Racing is close to being finalised. The most experienced Formula One driver ever may soon be adding Indy to his impressive CV.
Rubens Barrichello is considering racing in the Indycar series in 2012, after losing his seat in Formula 1 to Bruno Senna.
The Brazilian driver, currently the most experience Formula 1 driver in history, has lost none of his enthusiasm for racing, and so has tested a KV Racing Indycar with a view to possibly joining the team for 2012.
At 39, Barrichello still has much to offer the racing world. His wealth of experience in Formula 1 would be invaluable to KV Racing, and would put him in a strong position to challenge at the front of the Indycar grid.
A decision is expected to be announced during the course of next week.
There are 12 teams in Formula 1. Each has 2 drivers. 24 in total. That is, only 24 race seats at the highest level of motorsport. For 2012, only 1 remains available. That it is with HRT, who compete at the back of the field, is not a problem for an aspiring Formula 1 driver. Any race seat in Formula 1 is priceless.
Well… that’s not strictly true. Formula 1 is about money. To have the best car, you must spend the most money on development. To have the best drivers, you must pay for them. If you don’t have the budget, you don’t win. It’s simple.
For those teams who struggle financially, pay drivers are an option. A driver with little or no Formula 1 experience is more likely to find a drive if he has the backing of sponsors. For a team like HRT, where financial survival is a real problem, a pay driver is an attractive option.
Unfortunately for teams that use pay drivers, they can have major drawbacks. Lack of Formula 1 experience limits a pay driver’s ability to develop the car and extract all of the avilable performance from the car. If the driver is not performing and the car is not being developed well enough, the team will not become more competitive, and will struggle to attract sponsors, which in turn hinders further progress.
Of course, it is always possible that a significant talent could be unearthed in a pay driver. Although he has never been referred to as a pay driver, Michael Schumacher’s first race in Formula 1 for Jordan was financed by Mercedes. No-one would dispute that it was worth it.
It is generally expected that HRT will choose their second driver based largely on financial criteria. If they decide not to do that, there are a few skilled and experienced drivers available. Rubens Barrichello is available, now that Bruno Senna has signed for Williams. Adrian Sutil is an option, having lost his drive at Force India. Vitantonio Liuzzi claims to have a contract with HRT, but the team has not confirmed his place for 2012. Jaime Alguersuari has been let go by Toro Rosso. Alguersuari has the added benefit for HRT of being Spanish, as is HRT.
All of the drivers listed above would be able to take HRT forward. Unfortunately, it is doubtful that HRT could afford to employ an experienced driver. With pre-season testing starting in less than 3 weeks, HRT must surely choose their second driver soon.
Williams F1 has confirmed that it has signed Brazilian Bruno Senna for the 2012 Formula 1 season. He will drive alongside Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado. This brings to a close months of speculation about the second seat at Williams, and about Senna’s future in Formula 1.
Senna drove for HRT in 2010 and for Renault (now Lotus) in the second half of 2011, but has not had the chance of a full season in an experienced and successful team. With Williams, he now has that chance.
Senna’s contract with Williams means that Rubens Barrichello is without a drive for 2012.
All of the established teams have now decided their driver line-ups. The only remaining option is with backmarkers HRT, who have yet to confirm who will partner Pedro de la Rosa. For Barrichello, who has won 11 races and finished second in the Drivers’ Championship twice for Ferrari, HRT would be a significant step back. Perhaps it is time for him to consider a move out of the F1 cockpit.
Barrichello has been a constant presence in the paddock since his debut in 1993, and has always been competitive. With 322 race starts he is by far the most experienced driver in F1 history, and by all accounts he is a much liked and respected member of the Formula 1 community. If he does decide to hang up his helmet, it will be a sad day for Formula 1.
Kimi Räikkönen has signed a 2-year deal to return to Formula 1 with Lotus Renault GP, according to ESPNF1.com.
There was speculation that Kimi would drive for Williams next year, and it was revealed in the press that he had spoken to a few teams, Williams included. During Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix, Martin Brundle stated in his commentary that the Räikkönen-Williams deal had fallen through, but gave no further suggestions as to what Williams or Räikkönen might do in 2012. Now, however, it seems confirmed that he will drive for Renault.
This means, of course, that there will be 6 world champions on the grid next year. In fact, the most recent 6 world champions will all occupy the grid for the first time. Schumacher, Alonso, Räikkönen, Hamilton, Button and Vettel have never before all taken part in the same Formula 1 event, yet between them, they have dominated Formula 1 for the last 12 years.
The LRGP deal does make sense for Räikkönen. Lotus Renault GP were bold, innovative and aggressive in their approach to the 2011 season. They were building around a top driver, Robert Kubica, until he was ruled out after a rallying crash just before the season started. They are backed by Group Lotus, who clearly have the resources and determination to take the team forward. Kimi Räikkönen has landed himself in the middle of a team with a great deal of potential.
This announcement does also raise a question regarding Williams. It was generally assumed that Rubens Barrichello would be replaced if Räikkönen joined Williams for 2012. Now there is the possibility that Barrichello might keep his seat. In fairness, he hasn’t done a lot wrong this season. The Williams FW33 has not been a competitive car, and there’s not a lot Barrichello could have done with it.
As Formula 1’s most experienced driver, Rubens still has a lot to offer the sport. He has a large fan base, is popular with the paddock, and is still driving as well as he ever has. It would be a shame if he were to leave Formula 1 for any reason other than his own decision.