I see that Rubens Barrichello has been talking about his season with Honda and blaming much of his poor form on the team. We knew already that he found it difficult to adapt to the car after having been with Ferrari for so long but Rubens goes further and says that there was an unwillingness to listen to his suggestions for improvements.
The 34-year-old hit out specifically at the Honda car’s inferior traction control system and says he spent too much time working to improve it.
Barrichello also struggled to adapt after developing an unique braking setup at Ferrari, and criticised Brackley based Honda for not listening to his requests for changes.
All of which may be true but it is not exactly good politics to mention such things to the press. I can’t imagine that Rubens will be flavor of the month with the team if they read all that – such matters should be sorted out in discussion with the team and not in public.
But I also wonder whether Rubens ever thought about why the team was taking no notice of his requests. It is fairly unusual for a team not to listen when a driver suggests changes that might improve the car, after all, and I see no reason why Honda should be different in this respect.
Oops, I’ve said it now – it may well be that it’s that word “respect” that had an influence there. It seems to me that Rubens may be suffering from the “Michael Schumacher Effect” – that aura that surrounds any Schumacher teammate after they depart in search of their own success. Everyone knows that, to be a Schumacher teammate, you had to toe the line, be prepared to hand over wins to the number one (and Rubens did a fair bit of that) and generally make your own interests subsidiary to the demands of the master.
It is not a situation that argues for a driver’s ambition and will to be the best. All of Michael’s teammates left his team only to find that their careers dwindled into nothingness (just ask Johnny Herbert, for instance). Their reputation was established and they were now seen as number two drivers.
It may well be that this is what poor Rubens has struggled against this season. If the Honda technicians lacked respect for him, even subconsciously, in regarding him as a number two driver, it is no wonder that they were reluctant to change the car as he suggested.
So now Rubens is talking about banging on the table and insisting on getting his way. But I have the feeling it might be too late for that and talking to the press is certainly the wrong way to begin.
Jenson Button must be grinning secretly to himself.