For the first time in his 15-year Formula 1 career, Rubens Barrichello has ended the season without any points on the scoreboard, after his hopes of getting off the mark in front of his home fans in the final race in Brazil quite literally went up in smoke.

The Sao Paolo native had lined eleventh on the grid at Interlagos - one of his best qualifying performances of the year, but conversely one of his worst at his home circuit - but saw his race come undone within seconds of the start after he was adjudged to have moved before the red lights went out and consequently handed a drive-through penalty. He had fought his way back up through the field from 17th into eleventh when his engine lunched itself in spectacular fashion on the entry into the pit-lane.

"A disappointing end to a very hard season for us," the 35-year-old rued afterwards. "Our position wasn't looking too bad before I came in to make my second stop, but unfortunately there was an engine problem and that ended my race early.

"I would like to say thank you to the whole team for the effort they have put in this year, though. It has been a very difficult experience, but the team has done a lot of growing together and we will work very hard over the winter to improve our situation for next year."

Team-mate Jenson Button had a similarly dismal afternoon, picking his way up into the top ten from 16th on the grid before also pulling off with an engine failure on lap 22. The Brit vowed, however, that the same mistakes would not be made in 2008.

"Not a great end to the season for us," the 27-year-old lamented. "We had a problem with the engine overheating in the very high temperatures, but we have to look forward now, put the experience of this year behind us and focus on 2008.

"I would like to thank the whole team for the commitment they have shown this year. It hasn't been easy for anyone, but we have stuck together as a team and worked so hard to take something from every race. I would also like to say a special thank you to my physio Phil Young who has been with me at every race for seven years and is now moving to a new life in Australia."

"First of all congratulations to the new world champion!" added engineering director Jacky Eeckelaert. "Unfortunately our race was less successful. With our strategy both drivers might have been in points contention today - despite the fact that the car balance was a little too much on the understeer side, the lap times were competitive for both Rubens and Jenson. Unfortunately both retired early in the race with engine failure before we were able to capitalise on the strategy."

 

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