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Rubinho's 20-20 vision

Quashing talk of losing Williams seat, Barrichello eyes another year at the top level. Rohit Bhaskar reports.

india Updated: Oct 16, 2011 02:00 IST
Rohit Bhaskar

He's spent 19 years in the fast lane, suited up for a record 323 GPs, but by his own assertion the chequered flag is still some distance away. As former Ferrari and Brawn GP driver Rubens Barrichello goes through one of the most disappointing campaigns of his illustrious career with Williams, the Brazilian feels he still has what it takes to be a winner.

"My goal has always been the same - to win. The day I wake up thinking I can't win, even with a bad car, is the day I belong at home," the 39-year-old tells HT, quashing any talk of former F1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen's replacing him at the Grove-based team.

Having finished second in the championship twice, accumulated the third-highest points total in the history of the sport, won numerous races and collected over 60 podiums, he has achieved a career's worth of accomplishments. What keeps him going?http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/16-10-11-metro21a.jpg

"My motivation is simple, to get behind the steering wheel! The pleasure that I get driving cars is amazing. You know, people ask me with Formula One and its political side and everything, why do you still do it? If you tell us that family is so important, why do you still do it? It's just the passion I have behind the wheel and obviously the challenge," says the Brazilian.

When Barrichello made his debut in 1993, he was a bright-eyed rookie who was too busy putting it all together - the glamour, the thrill, and most importantly, the presence of boyhood idol Ayrton Senna.

"It was magic (meeting Senna in person), I had to pinch myself to see if it was true and it was just a magic moment. I'm really grateful that I was able to actually race with him," he says, pauses briefly, and continues, "Because it looks like I never raced against him... I was too much of a fan."

How does he look back at his time at Ferrari?

It was the most rewarding time of his on-track career, but also the most testing period away from the circuit.

He was a clear second option behind Michael Schumacher - even letting the German pass him on the final corner of the 2002 Austrian GP, under instructions from the team.

"In life we have this amazing quality to learn people. You do have problems with them, but you also learn from and become a better person and evolve," he says.

The first time a driver steps on the top step of a podium is an unmatched joy.

Was the 2000 German Grand Prix, then, his most cherished racing moment?

"It's a tough one (his greatest moment on the track) because I have 300 and something odd races, so to pick just one out of them is tough.

"If we don't say the very first win, which has always been the one I pinpoint, I must say the win I had in Valencia with Brawn GP in 2009 during a difficult patch for the team, where they were slowing off after a great start to the season."

It was also the 100th Grand Prix win for Brazilian drivers. All these factors combined (this was also his first win since leaving Ferrari) made it very memorable," reminisces the Sao Paulo-native.

The Indian GP is just two weeks away, what is the veteran's take?

"It's a place I've always wanted to visit so I'm coming here with open arms. I've heard good comments about the racing track," says the Brazilian veteran.

He cheekily adds the government has already given him a dose of the famed Indian 'hospitality'.

"They took three months to give me a visa."