He might have moved a few garages down the theoretical F1 pecking order, but Rubens Barrichello – the most experienced driver in top flight history – has revealed that he remains fully committed to his long-time career goal…that of one day becoming world champion.
With a staggering 284 grand prix starts now behind him, Barrichello is entering an incredible 18th campaign at the highest level in 2010, though many contend that having departed reigning double world champions Brawn GP – now Mercedes Grand Prix – for a Williams team that is barely any longer a shadow of its erstwhile title-challenging self having not won since 2004 and not claimed any title silverware at all since 1997, the Brazilian's last chance to gun for glory in F1 has now passed him by.
A brief shake of the head upon taking the chequered flag in a lowly eighth place in last season's Brazilian Grand Prix – thereby finally officially conceding defeat in the chase for the crown to team-mate Jenson Button – seemed to suggest that the 37-year-old knew the moment of opportunity to achieve his ultimate objective had been and gone.
On the eve of the 2010 world championship campaign, however, Barrichello insists that is far from the case, admitting that his move to Williams came following a number of false starts with the Grove-based outfit in the past – but that 'for one reason or another it wasn't the right time' – and arguing that he remains fully committed to lifting the ultimate laurels, however unlikely a proposition that might appear this year.
“Driving for Williams has always been a dream of mine,” the Paulista is quoted as having said by Abu Dhabi newspaper The National
, also confirming that he held discussions with McLaren, who eventually swooped in to poach Button. “I remember watching aged eight with my father when Alan Jones won the world title for them in 1980. That was one of my remaining dreams in F1 – and the other is to be world champion.”
Early-season brake set-up issues arguably did for Barrichello's title hopes last year, enabling Button to waltz to victory in six of the opening seven grands prix – and with that open up what would turn out to be an unassailable advantage in the drivers' standings.
Over the second half of proceedings, the tables were turned, as 'Rubinho' triumphed in both Valencia and Monza to whittle down a gap that had at one stage stood at a gaping 26 points and haul himself into the reckoning – but in the end, the order was just too tall, and the eleven-time grand prix-winner was forced to settle for third spot in the championship chase, the fourth time the eternal bridesmaid had wound up inside the top three come season's end.
“Those two wins I'd argue are more impressive than Jenson's six earlier in the season,” he opined, “because it was in a car that was no longer dominant. That takes nothing away from Jenson, though – he's a great guy and the standings showed that he was the deserving champion.
“In different circumstances, I believe I could have been world champion, but it wasn't to be for me. I thought about it a bit, but I always make sure to let things go at home. “It's important to switch off and just spend time with the family and be, as my wife says, the big kid.”