Ross Brawn has admitted that helping Rubens Barrichello to overhaul Sebastian Vettel for the runner-up spot in the final 2009 F1 World Championship drivers' table is the only remaining goal for Brawn GP heading into the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend.
Brawn wrapped up both the constructors' title and drivers' crown for Jenson Button in the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos last time out, but Barrichello's late-race puncture – having led from pole position in the early stages – robbed the experienced Brazilian of at least fourth position, and with it saw him concede second in the championship to Red Bull Racing rival Vettel.
That means that arriving in the United Arab Emirates for the first-ever F1 race to be held around the spectacular all-new, anti-clockwise, Hermann Tilke-designed Yas Marina street circuit, Barrichello actually trails Vettel by two points in the standings. Not for long, he hopes.
“It's always a good challenge to race at a new venue,” underlined the Paulista, at 37 the oldest driver in the field, “and the Yas Marina Circuit looks extremely impressive from the reports that I have seen. The layout of the circuit seems both fun and challenging, and it will be interesting to start the race in daylight and to finish in evening conditions.
“Our track walk on Thursday will be important to get an initial feel for the characteristics of the circuit, and we will spend the first few laps on Friday getting to grips with the layout. From then on, it will be business as usual with our standard practice programme. The team has had a great season so far, and we want to finish on a high with a strong performance this weekend.”
“Brazil was a fantastic weekend,” acknowledged team principal Brawn, the man widely credited with having saved the former Honda F1 operation and turned its ailing fortunes dramatically around this year following near-extinction last winter. “To have won the constructors' and the drivers' championships with Brawn GP is a very special achievement, and I am incredibly proud of the whole team at Brawn GP and Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines.
“We've all had a few busy days since returning to the UK, and it was great for both Jenson and I to get back to the factory and thank everyone in person for their contribution to our successes. At the same time, we have been looking ahead to the final race and ensuring that all our preparations are in place for Abu Dhabi, which is an important weekend for the team as we look to secure second position in the drivers' championship with Rubens.
“The new Yas Marina Circuit looks extremely impressive, and we're looking forward to getting out to Abu Dhabi and having our first look at the track. With the challenge of a new circuit, we are able to use data provided by the FIA to create a circuit map which can be used in our simulator at the factory. We went through this process for the new street circuits in Valencia and Singapore last year, so it is a process that the team is familiar with.
“Knowing the circuit when they arrive helps the drivers to get into a rhythm quickly during the first practice sessions, and allows us to check gear ratios and compare set-up items. We can also use the simulator to understand tyre behaviour. From this we get an understanding of the car balance, and that allows us to determine our start set-up for the weekend.”