With team-mate Jenson Button having already asserted that he has 'a good possibility' of winning races with Brawn GP in the future [see separate story – click here
], Rubens Barrichello has revealed that he too is aiming to return to the top step of the rostrum with the ex-Honda F1 squad.
The new, Mercedes-powered BGP 001 has stunned seasoned paddock observers during pre-season Formula 1 testing, never lapping outside of the top four since its debut back at the beginning of this week, and comfortably showing the way on the final two days around the Circuit de Catalunya, to the tune of more than a second in Button's hands on Thursday.
In doing so, the car shattered the pole position record at the track – set by BMW-Sauber ace Robert Kubica during the Q2 low-fuel qualifying session ahead of last year's Spanish Grand Prix – and the team that for much of the winter looked to be facing extinction following Honda's withdrawal of its official support back in December is now being talked up as the
surprise package of the season.
Barrichello will be beginning his 17th consecutive campaign in the top flight when he takes to the track in Melbourne for the curtain-raising 2009 Australian Grand Prix at the end of the month – and the São Paulista has explained that after no fewer than 267 grand prix starts, he is 'relaxed', 'bursting with energy' and determined to fight for victory again.
“To those asking whether I was worried about ending my career, I always replied that I would be driving an F1 car in 2009, even when nobody could guarantee it,” the nine-time grand prix-winner told French sports daily L'Équipe
. “In my head, Interlagos never figured as my last grand prix.
“At best, I spent the three most relaxed months of my life. I had no pressure, and I had more time to dedicate to my family. When the day comes that I have to stop, I will be able to return to a 'normal' life. I knew that if Ross Brawn was looking for money to save the team I could count on him. My skills or my strength come from the years I spent with Ferrari.
“I'm racing again, driven by the love of competition – certainly not for money. Seeing a truly competitive car really excites me. I feel bursting with energy. After two or three not-so-good seasons I'm feeling positive again – and I'm back to win.”
Whilst some cynics have surmised that the new Brawn GP must have been running underweight in Barcelona in order to set the impressive lap times that it did – or at the very least running light in a showboating effort to try and attract sponsorship – Button is confident that the pace the car has been demonstrating is very, very real.
“I like surprising people,” the 29-year-old British star told Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport
, “but I really want to surprise people at the races. Perhaps people forgot that we have good facilities and talented people who can make competitive cars. Before we went on the track many people in the factory knew we had done a good job.
“When I went to the factory after the [Honda withdrawal] announcement, I found everyone at work as usual. The results show that we kept our heads down on our goals. We seem quick at the moment, but we don't know about the others. [Jarno] Trulli looks excellent, and Ferrari. There are many people who with little fuel can do very quick lap times.
“This is fun, but we have a long way to go and we still don't know where we stand. For sure we will be fast at the first race, but I don't know about after four or five races. It's a quick car, and there is also room for improvement.”