Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Rubens

by Brian Carroccio
bricarr2@aol.com
@thechromehorn33

KV Racing Technology driver Rubens Barrichello has been pretty chatty of late.  Whether its his desire to have a "competitive car," his distaste for "being 15th," or his belief that his old Formula One (F1) team Williams would have been better off with him this season, Rubens has been more than willing to share his opinion.  Now, the 40 year-old IndyCar rookie does make sure to point out that he's happy in his current post at KV, telling Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, "Don't get wrong; I am happy that I can drive, and I don't see myself as a victim."

Maybe.  But it sure doesn't seem that way.

As you likely know, Barrichello, an 11 time F1 race winner, was signed to KV three weeks prior to the season opener.  He  has endured a very difficult first season in IndyCar, and currently sits a distant 17th in the series standings, with a best race finish of seventh at Iowa.  While his disappointing form can certainly be at least, in part, attributed to the difficulties of adjusting to new tracks, new cars, and a new team, Barrichello's willingness to share his opinions is not helping matters.

Of course,  Barrichello's IndyCar tenure didn't start off this way.  Shortly after he was dropped by Williams in January, rumors began to circulate Barrichello would be headed to IndyCar.   Those rumors only intensified when Barrichello joined longtime buddy and current KV teammate Tony Kanaan for a test a Sebring later than month, and made official his decision to run IndyCar March 1st.

Instantly, Barrichello seemed a perfect fit.  Always smiling, always engaging, and seemingly always laughing with Brazilian soulmate Kanaan, Barrichello seemed too good to be true.  An F1 veteran with an impressive resume, and none of the arrogance to match, Barrichello was an instant hit.  Media members loved his approachibility, fans loved his lack of pretension, as they saw Rubens feast on fried delicacies at the Mug N Bun.  Further, when he bested former series champ Kanaan in pre-season testing, many assumed Barrichello transistion to Indy Cars would be seemless.  

And while Barrichello's start to the season was somewhat pedestrian, he did record three top-10 finishes in his first four races, prompting many to believe the best was yet to come.  However, over the last 8 races, Barrichello has a mere 2 top 10 finishes.  Worse, perhaps, is the charming, engaging, and charismatic Barrichello we saw earlier this season, is now but a distant memory, replaced by a seemingly bitter, sore loser, who longs to be anywhere other than his current team.

Now, before moving ahead, I want to make something clear.  I like Rubens, and have for years.  Having watched F1, for as long as I can remember, Rubens was never anything less than a first class gentleman and world class racer.

And because I like Rubens, I want this IndyCar thing to work out for him.  While I can understand the frustration brewing from a disappointing season, Rubens' current M.O.--longing to be anywhere but KV--isn't doing him any favors.   

So Rubens, if you read The Chrome Horn, and I hope you do, I'm offering a little advice free of charge.

First, stop pining for F1.  You've stood on 68 F1 podiums and won 11 races, but you'll be 41 years old next year.  Your stock hasn't risen during this difficult season, and your old teammate Michael Schumacher hasn't done much in the past few years to forward the over 40 cause.  You're not going back.

If anything, IndyCar is not a fall back solution, rather the perfect place for you to be.  Plenty of former F1 drivers, such as Mario Andretti and your countryman Emerson Fittipaldi, enjoyed IndyCar success in their 40s.  Nigel Mansell won his IndyCar title at 40.  Simply put, your chances for success are much better in IndyCar than F1. 
Second, blaming your poor performance on the car doesn't go over well in IndyCar, because, well, the cars are nearly identical for everyone.  Sure, Team Penske may have a few better parts, and a better engineering staff, but at the end of the day, Penske, like KV, runs pucahsed Dallaras powered by leased Chevrolets.  The cars, engines and tires are the same.  The only thing that's different is the driver. 

Further, other teams have taken notice of you slamming KV.  When asked if he would be interested in pursuing Barrichello, Rob Edwards, team manager for Schmidt/Hamilton somewhat snarkily said, "You would have to ask Rubens if he's interested in our team." In other words, Edwards may not be all that interested in a driver on the north side of 40, who is going to slam the team and car when things don't work out. 

Lastly, if you want an example of how to go forward take a look at your buddy TK.  Would he be winning races with Penske or Ganassi?  Most definitely.  Has he dwelled on not having the best car, best strategy or best engineering?  No.  Rather he has simply gotten on with the program, engineered some stirring drives through the field, sits an impressive sixth in the points, and currently leads the oval championship.

So, in closing Rubens I'd suggest you stop this recent campaign of longing to be anywhere other than where you currently are.  Everyone knows you're not with Penske or Ganassi. You had to know the transition to IndyCar would not be easy.  While I can sympathize with your frustration, you're much better than this.

You also have to know F1 is a closed door.  While I will concede a switch to a new team may be a good move, your best chance for success is not at Monaco, Spa and Monza, rather Mid-Ohio, Barber, and Newton, Iowa.

And the sooner you accept the reality, the sooner things might begin to improve.

--Brian
Contact Brian at bricarr2@aol.com and follow the blog on Twitter @thechromehorn33





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