8 – Rubens Barrichello
There were some who surmised pre-season that Rubens Barrichello's transfer from Brawn GP – now Mercedes Grand Prix – to Williams was merely a means for the veteran Brazilian to pick up his pension pot, living out the closing days of his record-breaking F1 career in midfield ignominy. If that was so, then clearly nobody thought to tell 'Rubinho'.
Right from the word 'go' in F1 2010, Barrichello swiftly made it apparent that Indian summer or not, he was determined to give it everything he had with his new employer – his fifth in the top flight. Thirteen times in 19 races, the likeable Paulista made it into the top ten shoot-out in qualifying – in the last seven outings, indeed, never once missing the Q3 cut – and he converted seven of those efforts into race day points finishes to-boot.
Ten times over the course of the campaign the 38-year-old troubled the scorers – with back-to-back stand-out performances along the way in Valencia and at Silverstone, yielding fourth and fifth places respectively – and his contribution was pivotal to Williams narrowly pipping Force India to sixth spot in the final constructors' rankings. All-too often in recent years, the Grove-based outfit has fallen off the pace as the season has advanced. That it improved
rather than regressed in 2010 was in large part thanks to Rubens' keen development skills.
What's more, he ably handled his young team-mate Nico Hülkenberg, finding himself out-qualified on only six occasions by the man who was widely touted as the sport's next big thing – demonstrating that his raw speed remains very much intact, even the best part of two decades on from his F1 debut. Notably, he was rarely out-raced.
He might be nearing 40 years of age now, but what is palpably clear is that there is plenty of life left yet in this particular old dog – and that Sir Frank Williams made a wise decision indeed. To re-sign him for 2011 was a no-brainer at the end of the day, giving Barrichello at least one more well-deserved season to write a few extra chapters in what has been a truly extraordinary career.
Statistics – Rubens Barrichello:
Crash.net's Top 10 F1 drivers of 2010:
8. Rubens Barrichello
9. Heikki Kovalainen
10. Nico Hülkenberg
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