Rubens Barrichello's outburst against his own team in the wake of the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring is the F1 equivalent of a footballer who deserves to be shown a red card or an errant child in need of a smack – that is the view of respected team principal Sir Frank Williams.
After getting the jump on pole-sitting Red Bull Racing rival Mark Webber when the lights went out at the start, the veteran Brazilian led for the opening 14 laps of the grand prix until making his first pit-stop, but a subsequent fuel rig failure in his second pit visit dashed his intention of converting from a three-stop strategy to just two – and left the irate São Paulista afterwards accusing Brawn GP of having 'made him lose the race' [see separate story – click here
]. Williams believes such actions were inadmissible.
“What I saw was a bit of a red card job,” the 67-year-old told the BBC
. “It was a very unusual thing for a driver to say, and I was very surprised by it. I guess in Rubens' defence, he was very hot and bothered just having stepped out of the car. Maybe his judgement deserted him for a few moments. [In Ross Brawn's position] I would swallow my pride, have a wee word and try and make him think differently. He'd certainly get a severe dressing-down. He's a very good driver, nonetheless, but it couldn't be tolerated again after that.
“I think when one's supremacy disappears or appears to disappear there is some frustration, but there are lots of things that can happen during a grand prix and Rubens can win races this year in that car – I'm sure they're not standing still with the development. It wasn't exactly a storm in a teacup, but I just think after a due smacking he should be back on his best behaviour and driving very well I hope. I'm sure Rubens will be a different person tomorrow, and maybe peace will reign by the time Friday turns up at the next race.”
Barrichello's erstwhile sparring partner and fellow multiple grand prix-winner David Coulthard agreed that there was likely an element of 'frustration' in the 37-year-old's words, reflecting the fact that he has still to take his first win in a car that is patently no longer the best on the grid.
“I wonder if what we're seeing there is a driver who's done a lot of grands prix, and inevitably his enthusiasm is waning and his frustration growing, because he's just not managing to make a victory out of this great opportunity in the first half of the season,” mused the Scot.
“He is bringing the team into disrepute,” opined Eddie Jordan, who ran 'Rubinho' at his eponymously-named Jordan Grand Prix outfit from 1993 to 1996, and who described the comments as 'just appalling'. “There's clearly a problem there. He probably knows he hasn't got a drive next year, and it's a sad situation. He should not have said that on television, absolutely not.”
Brawn GP reserve driver Anthony Davidson, meanwhile, suggested that Barrichello may be suffering from a touch of 'paranoia' and a sense of déjà-vu, having previously found himself in a similar position of dutiful 'number two' within a team alongside record-breaking seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher at Ferrari from 2000 until 2005.
“I think it's a sign of a driver that's very frustrated – because he's seen his team-mate win a lot of races this year so far – and maybe a little bit of paranoia is just starting to settle in as well,” the Englishman reckoned. “Remember, he's been through all of this before at Ferrari, having to play second fiddle in a way, and it's just starting to happen all over again for him.
“Today was something that happened totally out of his control [and] totally out of the team's control – fuel rigs up and down the pit-lane are made by a separate manufacturer, and I think Williams had a problem too with Nico [Rosberg] in the first stint. It's just one of those things. It is unfair [and] it's unfortunate, but Rubens can be a bit of a hot-head at times with his fiery Latino blood. I think he just said a bit too much.”