Rubens Barrichello admitted that whilst it is always good to finish inside the points as he did in the F1 2010 curtain-raising Bahrain Grand Prix at the weekend, Williams had expected more from Sakhir – as the former multiple world champions eye a step up the order next time out in Australia.
Having qualified just outside the top ten in eleventh and with the luxury of being able to choose which tyres to start the race on, Barrichello was tipped to make some progress on Sunday in the desert kingdom, but in the final reckoning the Brazilian – the most experienced driver in the history of the top flight – actually ceded a place to Force India rival Vitantonio Liuzzi.
With all of the anticipated front-runners from Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull Racing and Mercedes making it to the chequered flag – albeit firing on less than full cylinders in the case of luckless long-time race leader Sebastian Vettel – that equated to tenth place for Barrichello, what would in any previous season have been outside of the points. Not bad, the 37-year-old Paulista acknowledged, but equally leaving considerable room for improvement in the weeks to come.
“It's good to have a point,” he reflected, “but in all honesty, we thought that we would do a little better when we arrived here. It's really all down to us, as we can see that the competition is pretty fierce and there were no retirements among the leading cars. I think we finished around about where we deserved, so it will be up to us to close up the gap.”
Highly-rated young rookie team-mate Nico Hülkenberg, for his part, sustained damage to his Cosworth-powered FW32 early on, compromising the 22-year-old German's level of performance for the remainder of the grand prix, as evinced by a fastest lap time more than one-and-a-half seconds adrift of that of Barrichello as he continued on to the finish line in a frustrated 14th place.
“It was a tough and difficult debut for me,” mused the reigning GP2 Series Champion. “Right from the start, I had to take some evasive action to avoid a crash in Turn Two, which dropped me couple of places, and a few laps later I spun in Turn Six.
“I am still not really sure how it happened; initially I thought there was something broken on the car, but it was not the case. I jumped the kerbs and maybe hurt the car a bit, as it was quite difficult to drive for the rest of what was a long and lonely afternoon for me. It's been a tough weekend, but the practice and long run pace has been good and we need to build on that.”
“It was good to get both cars to the finish and one car in the points,” concluded the Grove-based concern's technical director Sam Michael. “Cosworth will also be happy with engine reliability after all their hard work over the winter. We went for a different strategy with Rubens on the Prime tyre, but it looks like the Option was quite strong. Nico had car damage after an early spin, so he spent the race learning about the tyres. We are looking forward to Melbourne and taking a step up in performance.”