Brawn GP is better off exploiting the experience of Rubens Barrichello than it would be to make a play for defending Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton – that is the view of highly respected three-time title-winner Sir Jackie Stewart.
In the wake of the Melbourne 'lies' scandal into which Hamilton and his current employers McLaren-Mercedes have plunged in recent weeks, it is understood that the nine-time grand prix-winner and his manager father Anthony are furious about the situation in which the former was placed by his team, with the Briton having asserted that he was 'also misled' over the Australian Grand Prix controversy.
The fall-out from the incident has left the Stevenage-born ace's reputation hanging by a thread – as he was forced to publicly declare in Sepang a fortnight ago that he is 'not a liar' – and with McLaren having been summoned to appear before a meeting of the FIA's World Motor Sport Council in Paris on 29 April to face charges of having breached the International Sporting Code, there remains the possibility that both driver and team could find themselves facing a lengthy suspension or even season ban.
What's more, the Woking-based outfit is continuing to endure a miserable campaign with its aerodynamically-challenged and recalcitrant MP4-24, with Hamilton's chances of repeating his 2008 glory – regardless of the WMSC's ruling – looking tenuous at best.
Mercedes-Benz has been similarly angered by the fiasco – the second time in as many years that McLaren has flirted with disrepute following the infamous espionage row of 2007. It is speculated that the Stuttgart manufacturer, whose motorsport vice-president Norbert Haug recently confessed could not guarantee its commitment to F1 long-term, may attempt to pave the way for a transfer for Hamilton from McLaren to current pace-setters – and similarly Mercedes-powered – Brawn GP.
With Jenson Button having thoroughly dominated the opening two grands prix of the new season in Australia and Malaysia, that would make veteran Rubens Barrichello – the most experienced driver in the official 59-year history of the top flight – most at risk of having to make way. Stewart – who knows the Brazilian well from working closely with him in his capacity of team owner of the eponymously-named Stewart Grand Prix concern from 1997 to 1999 – suggests that would be an ill-advised move.
“Rubens is very experienced in the setting up of the car, Lewis is not,” contended the Scot, “and Ross [Brawn] needs that knowledge right now because of the ban on in-season testing.”