Rubens Barrichello admitted that it was a bonus to secure a front row grid slot in qualifying for this weekend's 2009 British Grand Prix, having expected the Red Bull Racing duo to dominate – and now the experienced Brazilian is bidding to exceed expectations again come race day.
Barrichello has an excellent record around Silverstone, a circuit he describes as his favourite on the F1 calendar, and one with which he clearly feels a real affinity. His most memorable performance there came in 2003, when as team-mate to the legendary Michael Schumacher at Ferrari, he thoroughly dominated the German to storm to pole position, fastest lap and race victory.
Despite being plagued by issues with the balance of his Mercedes-powered Brawn GP BGP 001 and getting his tyres up to operating temperature sufficiently quickly in the cool conditions this time around, the São Paulista again comfortably had the legs of the driver in the sister car, home hero Jenson Button, out-qualifying the Briton by four positions and the thick end of half a second. Though Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber have been largely tipped to rule the roost on Sunday, Barrichello has hinted that they would be wise not to discount him from the equation just yet...
“I'm really happy to be starting from the front row of the grid tomorrow on a track that I love and feels like home to me,” enthused the recently-turned 37-year-old. “After some hard work overnight we changed the car a little, and my engineers did a great job to get the set-up to my liking ready for qualifying. I really got everything out of the car today, and we were able to achieve a little more than we expected.
“It's clear that the Red Bulls have made a good step forward, so I'm delighted to have put the car on the front row and split Sebastian and Mark. We hoped for third today, so it's great to go one better. Now I hope that we can go one better tomorrow as well!”
“An excellent performance from Rubens at a track which is one of his favourites,” affirmed the Brackley-based outfit's team principal Ross Brawn. “Second place on the grid puts him in a very strong position for the race tomorrow. If the temperatures warm up a little, both cars should be in good shape – and we will do our best to ensure that we secure as many points as possible at our home grand prix.”