AUGUST 3, 2005
Barrichello and BAR
Rubens Barrichello had a multi-million dollar contract with Ferrari for 2006 and had chosen to give it up. It does not take a rocket scientist to work out that the only reason for the 33-year-old Brazilian to do that is because he has a better deal somewhere else, either financially or in terms of potential or both. That deal comes from British American Racing Honda, which has been looking for a top name to either replace, or race alongside, Jenson Button. Honda is not a company that is going to take any risks in this respect and so what was needed was a man who knows F1 and knows how to win races. At the moment that list is still relatively short: Michael Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Ralf Schumacher, Juan Pablo Montoya and to a lesser extent Giancarlo Fisichella, Jarno Trulli and Jacques Villeneuve. Strip away the names of those under contract for 2006 and you ended up with no names at all but in F1 things are negotiable if all parties are willing to talk and so Barrichello and Fisichella ended up in the frame.
The question now is what BAR will do with its second car. Takuma Sato has been flailing about a little and needs some solid results to restore the reputation that was once in the same league as Button. Honda says that having a Japanese driver is not essential but, even if they do not admit it, they like to have a local hero to show off to the folks back home. What they really want is a local hero who wins. Sato scored 34 points last year but this year has managed just one but there are signs that he will score more. Button has 19 but a couple of good results would definitely change perceptions.
The fortunate thing for Takuma is that BAR is in no rush to make a decision about the other driver. Button needs to sort out his situation and if Takuma goes on failing to score the team has plenty of other choices.
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