News and views on motorsports

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Rubens Out Massa In

Whilst the cheating continues unabated in the 3 week break, Ferrari have officially announced that Rubens Barrichello will be dropped at the end of this season. His replacement to no one's surprise will be Filipe Massa, currently team mate to Jacques Villeneuve at Sauber.

After 6 seasons at Ferrari, it is still to be confirmed where Barrichello will end up in 2007. A seat at BAR is looking very much a distinct possibility what with Jenson Button being Williams bound, seemingly against his will.

My distinct impression of Barrichello will always be that of his magnificent showing in his debut season in the Jordan Hart at a rain swept Donnington Park in the summer of 1993. He made quite an impression that day running in third behind Damon Hill for much of the race and the peerless Aryton Senna. Nigel Roebuck of Autosport hailing him as someone to watch out for in the future.

Since then, he hasn't had many opportunities to shine until he joined Ferrari. Eclipsed by Michael Schumacher at Maranello, lets hope he ends up in a team where his talents can once again stand out. The German was indeed too much for the Brazilian to handle at Ferrari. Much of it I think is due to a lack of force in his personality unlike his idol Senna. Had he had that sort of strength I doubt if Schumacher would have got things all his own way. And lets face it, because of that he lost out on the track, what with priority always being given to Schumacher.

None more clearly than in Austria in 2002 when he was forced to make way for Michael Schumacher to the furore of the crowd and fans worldwide. Rubens certainly deserved better than that on the rare day that he had the German licked. The stupidity of it all was the fact that the F2002 was so superior to anything else on the road Ferrari really didn't need to do what it did. In the end no one can accuse Ferrari of being very sporting.

Well hopefully on to greener pastures for Rubens. If he is paired with Takuma Sato at BAR next season, he'll really have a superb chance to lead a team that's backing him for a change.

As for Filipe Massa, here's a chance for him to rack up some race wins. But as long as Michael is over there, well, he can keep dreaming about winning the world championship. But for some I suppose, its better to be Michael's bitch than being in another team. We can't all be Raikkonen and have a choice of teams that will cater to both drivers equally.

I know Massa's being out doing his ex world champion team mate a lot but I still don't rate him that highly. His performances are steady to be sure but he's hasn't really set the world alight. Says more about Jacques Villeneuve than it does Filipe really. Well, whatever it is, his apprenticeship in what effectively was the Ferrari junior team and a testing stint at Maranello has paid dividends.

But I begin to wonder though. Had Giancarlo Fisichella remained at Sauber this season, would he have got the drive at Ferrari? After all, Giancarlo was so desperate to drive for Maranello last season. A planned test for Ferrari was thwarted because of sponsorship clashes. Petronas sponsored driver testing a Shell sponsored car. No way the cronies would allow such a thing.

This looks like the start of a driver shuffle for next year. Lets see what comes next. One thing's for sure though, Jenson would do best to stick to his contract rather than being neither here nor there. Take it like a man Jense. After all, he's not exactly moving to Minardi is he?

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