Rubens Barrichello won last Sunday’s European Grand Prix in Valencia to set up what is now an intriguing four way tussle for the 2009 World Driver’s Championship. The popular Brazilian has jumped to second place in the standings behind his Brawn team mate Jenson Button, leapfrogging the Red Bull duo of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel.
Even though the resurgent McLaren of the current World Champion Lewis Hamilton lead for most of the race, Barrichello took a flawless victory after the Brit was hampered by an uncharacteristically Ferrari-esque McLaren pit stop which handed Rubens the lead of the race. Ferrari’s mullet-man Kimi Raikkonen brought his red racer home in a solid third position.
Of the other contenders for the World Championship Crown only Jenson Button scored points with his sixth placing, extending his lead over Red Bull’s Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel. Webber had a rather lackluster race finishing ninth, while Vettel’s race was wrecked by a pit stop bungle and then a blown Renault engine, the second that he suffered on the weekend.
The only other talking point of the weekend was the performance, or lack of, of Ferrari’s Luca Badoer, who is subbing for the injured Felipe Massa. Badoer was a major embarrassment for Ferrari, qualifying last on the grid and then plodding around at the rear of the field, making rookie errors and even spinning one time. Badoer has not competed in F1 for a decade and it was only expected that his racing would prove a little rusty. However while Luca’s lack of recent racing may explain some of his poor performance on the weekend it should be remembered that he was never a very good driver back when he was competing in Formula 1 in the 1990s. It is with very good reason that Badoer is still the driver who has the started the most races without scoring a single World Championship point. While he has been Ferrari’s test driver for ten years and apparently a big reason for the Prancing Horse’s success in the early 2000s we should also remember that the last time Ferrari needed a substitute driver in 1999 when Michael Schumacher broke his leg, team manager Jean Todt overlooked Badoer for Mika Salo. Apparently Luca has been an ultimatum to perform at Spa this weekend or else his F1 race career will be over. Still, I think that Ferrari would have been better off using their other test driver Marc Gene, who has been competing recently at LeMans with the triumphant Peugeot team, and has been a regular member of the successful Maserati team in the GT championship.