| Barrichello claims he didn’t see the intruder
What with all the fuss and palaver about one misguided pedestrian, it is all too easy to overlook the fact that Sunday’s British Grand Prix was a magnificent motor race, won in the way that the best races should be: By the man who made the bravest moves stick.
Rubens Barrichello comes in for a lot of disparagement as he plies his trade around the world’s racetracks. He is regarded by some as no more than a highly paid stooge to Michael Schumacher, his Ferrari teammate, and of late even supporters of the German have been slighting the Brazilian.
He’s lost his touch, the critics claimed: He’s lost his bottle. First lap in Canada, he loses the nose of his car.
First lap in Magny Cours, he spins. First lap at Silverstone, starting from pole, he loses two places at the first corner. The knives were out again. “I hope people will shut up now,” Barrichello .
He had shown true resolution, commitment and skill to win a race which confounded so many of his rivals and confused so many of the fans.
He even had an excuse for his tardiness at the first corner. “The problem was the warm-up lap,” he said.
“The field did not close up behind me, so that when I got on to the grid I had to wait and I lost temperature in my tyres and my brakes, and when I got to the first corner I had no grip.”
We should be thankful. Barrichello was obliged to fight back, which meant he was obliged to overtake people, which is what people come to Silverstone to see.
He passed Olivier Panis. He passed Jarno Trulli. He passed Kimi Raikkonen twice and the second of those moves, the one that decided the race, was a classic.
The manoeuvre, planned and executed to perfection, was started half a mile from its conclusion.Coming out of the long right-hander at Club Corner, Barrichello used his Ferrari’s superior traction to latch on to the tail of Finn Raikkonen’s McLaren.
The Brazilian then lurked in his rival’s slipstream down the long straight that followed, then pulled right, to the outside, for the left-hander at Abbey.
There was no way past there, but Barrichello now had the inside line for the swooping, 160mph right-hander at Bridge.
Raikkonen, alongside, had no option but to concede the corner and the lead.“I tried to hold him off,” the Finn said. “I tried to go round on the outside line, but I got on to the dirty stuff.”
Spectators drew breath as the McLaren swerved over the kerb, sending up a cloud of dust: No accident at Bridge is a small accident.
Such was Barrichello’s focus that he claimed not to have seen the strangely garbed interloper on the Hangar Straight.
Peculiar, this, given that he won the last Grand Prix to be interrupted by a wayward spectator, at Hockenheim in 2000.
“Would you believe me if I said that I didn’t see him'” Barrichello said.
Montoya, who was following Schumacher closely at the time, certainly took notice.
“I was on the straight, drafting Michael, and I pulled out to the left and saw him. I went straight on to the radio and said to the team: ‘There’s some guy on the track.’
“The drivers watched a video replay of the incident with incredulity, but were reluctant to pin blame on the Silverstone authorities.”
And for Barrichello, the finest of his six Formula One wins. “With the overtaking, this race was much more difficult than my other wins but in the end much more pleasing,” he said.
“Always, when it is hard work for the drivers, it is entertaining. I would rather win a race like that than start from pole position and lead all the time.” If only all racing drivers thought like that.