Brackley, Tuesday: Ageing Brazilian F1 driver Rubens Barrichello has timidly suggested that he may be persuaded to quit the season-dominating Brawn GP team if he thinks that they are favouring Jenson Button over him.
Barrichello was visibly disappointed after the Spanish Grand Prix, where Button came from behind to win the race, and rumours have been circulating that the swap was engineered by the Brawn crew in order to ensure the Briton’s championship lead was extended.
“If I get so much as a sniff that they are favouring Jenson,” Barrichello commented to some tinpot network after the race on Sunday, “I will bloody well go up to Ross Brawn and ask him if he would please change his tactics. Then if he doesn’t, I might even have to storm out of the factory in a huff. Maybe I won’t even come back.”
The Brazilian driver played second fiddle to Michael Schumacher at Ferrari for years, and wanted to make it clear that he would not put up with the same treatment here. “It’s getting to the point when I am actually considering wringing my hands in exasperation,” Barrichello confessed. “Maybe I’ll even be forced to start sighing audibly and shaking my head.”
Unseen by television cameras, Barrichello actually knocked over Jenson Button’s glass of water as they left the press conference on Sunday, though he failed to soak the race winner as he had already got up from his seat. “You’ll need to be quicker than that,” Button wryly commented at the time, the double meaning evidently not lost on his teammate.
Ross Brawn rubbished the idea that Button was being favoured in the team, claiming that Barrichello’s failure to win the Spanish Grand Prix was all his own fault. “Three stops was the fastest strategy,” Brawn said, unconvincingly. “All of the other teams just got it wrong, okay?”