Rubens Barrichello robbed.
May 12, 2002 6:49 AM   Subscribe

Rubens Barrichello robbed. Formula One driver Barrichello has just let Michael Schumacher win the Austrian Grand Prix. I've been getting more and more disillusioned with F1, and this has put the cap on it. No more for me.
posted by viama (20 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Granted, it wasn't very sporting, but Rubens just signed a 2 year contract extension. Barrichello has to sleep in the bed he made. As artificial as it sounds, Rubens will have his chance at the end of the season, after Michael clinches. If Michael qualifies first at Monaco in two weeks, he will win due to the lack of passing room, and will probably clinch by the French or German GP.
posted by machaus at 7:13 AM on May 12, 2002

It's a peculiar choice of words.
Barrichello is basically a mediocre driver -- we all can think at least of 5 better guys to be Schumi's sidekick -- hired to help out the leader whenever he can.
A wonderful, talented, unforgettable driver like Gilles Villeneuve (Jacques' daddy for the younger Mefi crowd), may he rest in peace, accepted the reality that a so-so driver like Scheckter was the team's leader, and being a professional, Gilles worked to help Schekter win in 1979. Barrichello is definitely not better than Schumi, he needs to be a team player until Schumi is a sure winner of the title. If Rubens really wants to be a team leader that bad, he can transfer to Minardi.
posted by matteo at 7:32 AM on May 12, 2002

Barrichello _was_ better than Schumi all weekend, so I think it's a perfect choice of words to describe the look on his face at the end of the day.
posted by viama at 8:07 AM on May 12, 2002

It was a disgrace. Ferrari should be penalised for it. Team orders yes, but not this soon in the season, and not when their title aspirations are clearly secure at this point.

On another point entirely, I'd just like to say how lucky Hedfeld, Sato and Montoya are to be alive after that horrific accident the former two had, and the latter escaped from by a mere fraction of a second.
posted by tomcosgrave at 8:24 AM on May 12, 2002

Eddie Irvine knows exactly how Rubens feels. I hate the tactic (especially when it's used unsportingly like this, when it really isn't necessary and the number two driver clearly had the win), but it's been done many times in the past, it's seen as a legitimate part of the sport. (And having a driver's championship be, you know, competitive, which is only going to happen if Schumi doesn't win every race, might upset all those people who like their F1 boring).
posted by biscotti at 8:28 AM on May 12, 2002

It has been a complete P.R. disaster for Ferrari.

In the podium and post race press conference Barrichelo was in the middle (spot reserved to the winner). So it seems that in the tarmac both drivers have respected the team orders but afterwards, in public, have played the "moral winner" gag.

F1 sucks.
posted by samelborp at 8:56 AM on May 12, 2002

I watched today's race and was (initially) pleasantly surprised because it was actually an interesting race. Up until the disgraceful finish, that is. Ferrari didn't need Schumacher to win - they would have got the same amount of points in the constructors' championship if Barrichello had won and Schumacher had come in second. Schumacher didn't need the extra points either - his number one position in the drivers' championship is very secure already.

I'm mostly shocked by Schumacher's behaviour. Ferrari's decision was a business decision. Letting business decisions take priority over sportsmanship is bad, but it happens. But I would expect more sportsmanlike behaviour from the drivers themselves. If Schumacher was so unhappy about having to 'steal' number one, why did he obey those orders? Ferrari will not want to lose him, so he definitely wouldn't get fired for it. If I wanted to be cynical, I'd say it looked like he only decided to be kind and put Barrichello on the no. 1 spot on the podium after he saw and heard the reaction of the audience.
posted by dutchbint at 10:15 AM on May 12, 2002

I loved the great duels of the 70's F1 when I was a kid, and I still miss those races like Arnoux and Gilles at Dijon. But it's naive to pretend that a sport as ruthless and hugely expensive as F1 will not respond to business demands in this day and age
What would Enzo Ferrari do? I don't know, it's a moot point as much as I loved and admired the man. But he always cared about winning, always. And the designated winner of the title by Ferrari management decision is Schumi not Rubens.
btw, read this about Eccelston, on today's Observer. It's an interesting interview
posted by matteo at 10:32 AM on May 12, 2002

I don't believe Schumacher was to blame. He had a couple of seconds to decide what to do, as he was only told on the final corner, and he even slowed down, according to the telemetry. AND it's written into his contract to obey orders. The Ferrari top execs have forgotten the race is sport, not just a money-grabbing scheme.

I'd also like to pay respect to Barrichello's calm and professional manner after the race. To take a "defeat" like that is thouroughly impressive.
posted by wibbler at 10:46 AM on May 12, 2002

I don't have all the details on how much electronics/assisting mechanism are now in F1 cars, but they all should be removed except the safety ones. Even today driving a F1 must be an hell, with millisecond responses and huge gravity force accelerations , but I've got the impression that victory now depends too much on the car , and less on the driver.

Today, the emotions that F1 is giving me are the same of a Indy 500 race, lap after lap it's all the same s*it. No thrill, not much skill, an overall boring program. Accidents are not part of the show, is the skill of the pilot and the risk they take that make people look at them as really superior drivers.

Even with less electronics, probably Schumacher would win because it seems to be a man with iron-strenght motivation and natural driving skills : Barrichello is just good, but being good enough to be a F1 driver is excellent for a pilot. Too bad he had to give up the position, but that's squad-tactics, he still has got the contract, he isn't an evident loser , he got the money and a little more respect then Schumy, so he's probably not feeling THAT bad.
posted by elpapacito at 11:27 AM on May 12, 2002

I don't get as excited about Formula 1 as I used to. There simply aren't enough cars with a chance of winning, and it almost impossible to overtake. The sport needs to have a good long look at it's raison d'etre - which is surely to promote interesting races for the viewer. At the very least, they need to reduce the aerodynamic effects, because that stops the cars from running too closely to each other.
posted by salmacis at 12:51 PM on May 12, 2002

Anyone who thinks Michael was pleased with the team orders today is ignoring his comments during the post race PC. Michael mentioned both Jean Todt and Luca Di Montezemolo as Mr. Todt and Mr. Montezemolo. A very obvious jab at them, you have to realise this is the same Michael who was offered a lifetime contract at Ferrari just a few weeks back.

If you see the laptimes as reported on the world feed for the last few laps, Michael was doing 1:09s while Rubens was doing 1:10s, so I thought that Michael was trying a last gasp effort to win the race on merit. If you noticed Michael's body language in the car on the cool down lap, you will see that he wasn't exactly jumping around in joy, he raised his hand only once. I believe it was a Ferrari only decision and Michael and Rubens just followed the orders.

As for the accident with Sato and Heidfeld, everyone was so close to each other at that point that I was surprised that it only took two cars out. DC almost hit Nick on turn 1 (I think), then Yoong and Montoya locked up their brakes which caused Heidfeld to do the same, thus blowing his brake and spinning out of control. I am actually glad that the FIA didn't show Sato's mom's reaction on TV, Heidfeld's mom was obviously crying.
posted by riffola at 1:46 PM on May 12, 2002

Saw it and had an odd feeling that Rubens would be asked to pull over. I wasn't entirely shocked when it happened, just mildly repulsed.
Okay, here's a question that I'm curious about that is slightly tangential: do Americans watch F1? It's something I've thought about. Obviously it's a huge sport in the rest of the world but that doesn't seem to mean much in the US.
posted by davidgentle at 5:14 PM on May 12, 2002

davidgentle - do Americans watch F1?

No, it doesn't even offer the Darwinian spectacle of the culling of dumbass spectators like European rally racing.
posted by NortonDC at 6:12 PM on May 12, 2002

"do Americans watch F1?"

Some of us do. I don't watch it exclusively, and I don't hunt for F1 races, but if I'm channel-surfing and happen to catch one, I'll leave it on until the race is over. Of course, I'll pretty much watch any motor sport, including lawnmower racing.

On topic, I have to say that I'm pretty disgusted with this, too. I can't for a minute imagine Tony Pedregon lifting his throttle foot to let John Force win a race, I can't conceive of Michael Waltrip pulling over to let Dale Earnhardt Jr. pass him to win, and I certainly expect more from a team like Ferrari, which is such a huge part of racing history.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:37 PM on May 12, 2002

do Americans watch F1?

I used to watch it when FoxSports carried it a few years ago. It's only on Speedvision now, which I don't get yet.

I was a big fan in my teens, in the days of Stewart, Hill, Rindt, and the rest. I had not followed it at all for many years, then had my interest re-started a few years ago while channel flipping and spotting the immediately recognizable Graham Hill helmet, and giving a 'whut tha?'.

The new onboard coverage is great, but the races in general seem much less exciting. (And I was a Mika fan ;-()
posted by HTuttle at 8:13 PM on May 12, 2002

Some Americans do watch F1, but what I can't understand is that some Europeans would bet on it.

Bernie Eccelston hinted on the Speedvision broadcast that Red Bull is sponsoring a development team with American drivers, moving slowly up through F3. That might get a few more Americans watching, but I think only NASA would have the sort of money and technology needed to put an American anywhere near a competitive level in F1.

I'll stick to NASCAR, where the only team orders are "don't wreck your teammate".
posted by PMcCann at 12:44 AM on May 13, 2002

The average American race fan does not like to watch races where the cars make righthand turns.
posted by Chief Typist at 1:16 PM on May 13, 2002

As a Brazilian that actually likes Barrichelo (he's been bashed here for so long, basically because he's not Senna), I wanted him to win (specially when he did everything right, being better during the whole weekend), but I thought that it would be very difficult. I have some comments on the previous entries, so forgive me if I'm a bit verbose:

. Rubens might be a 'mediocre' pilot, compared to Schumacher, although he's much better than many people credit him for being. He's no Senna, he's no Schumacher and he won't show the same hints that Montoya and Massa (I think that Massa is a hell of a pilot and might have a very good first year) might display. Nevertheless, Rubens is a top pilot, signed in a top team and making top money. I think that due to his stated limitations as a pilot, he's a winner for being in his position.

. Rubens might as well be the perfect mate for Schumacher: he's competent enough and he shows it over and over again that he plays by the team rules, no matter what. Also, although he's ambitious and wants badly to win (if you had 200 million fellow Brazilians calling you lame for 4 years, you'd also want to win badly), he's never tryed to sabotage Schumacher or prejudice him. He's been criticized here in Brazil because he does that, but people tend to forget that this is a common thing, not only in F1.

. What happened in this GP is the same that happens in any corporation nowadays. How many of you don't know of someone that did a hard work and then later had the credit stolen by the boss? The difference here is that Ferrari screwed up. Had they asked him to do it before, it would be business as usual.

. Schumacher didn't want to win that one in the end. He slowed down and tryed to avoid passing Rubens, he lost at least 2 seconds in that final meters. In the end, Rubens slowed it down even more and if they kept going like that, Montoya could as well win the race... :-)

. Letting your mate win is a common tactic. Senna got some with Berger, Piquet got some with Patrese and even Fangio got his 5 titles using a very weird tactic: whenever his car broke down, he would stop the best qualified team driver and take the car from him - this of course until they pulled out the rule that links the combo driver/car;

. Any points matter. Schumacher, a couple of years ago, had an accident and broke a leg, missing several races. When he came back, it was a tough run to the end of the championship;

. Rubens is the great winner: he showed great behaviour, mature atitudes. He was polite, he was clear on his comments and he stated in portuguese what would be a difficult statement, due to the kind of pressure that our media puts over him: that he had a new signed deal, that he was competent enough to win, that he virtually won the race and that he just followed team orders;

. People that feel entraped on their work, that feel that they have to deal with several tasks that annoy them and so on always tend put high hopes on idols or models of reference. It shocks them when they are confronted with the fact that altough their references have to deal with more dangerous tasks and make top money for that, they are still employees and they are still human and have to swallow things like this. Psichoanalisys calls it Projective Transference. No mistery at all...
posted by rexgregbr at 2:55 PM on May 13, 2002

What is it about Brazil and racing drivers? As I speak 4 of the top 5 in the Indy500 qualifying are Brazillian.
posted by salmacis at 3:06 PM on May 13, 2002

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