Valencia, Sunday: Victorious Brazilian Rubens Barrichello has attributed his victory in the European Grand Prix to his beard, which he claims to have grown “specially,” believing that it has allowed him to lap up to half a second quicker.

Beardy: Valencia victor Rubens Barrichello (and goatee)
Beardy: Valencia victor Rubens Barrichello (and goatee)

The goatee first appeared on Barrichello’s face at the British Grand Prix, where he outperformed his teammate Jenson Button for the first time to claim third place, the British driver languishing in sixth. Since then it has appeared in every race, with Barrichello scoring 19 points in that time, compared to Button’s 11.

Speaking after the race, Barrichello was in no doubt that the power of the beard had helped him to victory: “It may look like a small facial feature, having no conceivable effect on my abilities, but there’s no doubt in my mind that having this beard has massively improved my performance.”

Speculation was rife before the race about whether Barrichello’s car, which was revealed to be heavier than the McLarens at the post-qualifying weigh-in, weighed extra due to additional fuel or because of his “heavy beard” strategy contributing significant weight to the car. While this question has been largely unanswered, most parties agree that this extra mass was an advantage for the Brazilian.

Barrichello is believed to have been advised by Nigel Mansell, who famously removed his trademark moustache some time after his retirement from F1, and upon returning to the British Touring Car Championship turned out to be rubbish. “Facial hair is always the answer,” the 1992 world champion said.

From Mansell to Clay Reggazzoni, impressive facial hair has always been a trademark of some of motor sport’s greatest figures. Even Lewis Hamilton has tried to join the party with his half-hearted sideburns, a feature that almost certainly contributed to his 2008 world championship.

So far only Nick Heidfeld remains a curious anomaly in the history of the beard’s success in F1.

Thanks to “fakemansell” for his contribution.