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All Brazil’s hopes ride on Barrichello

October 17th, 2009
Rubens Barrichello (left) trails series leader and teammate Jenson Button by 14 points.

Rubens Barrichello (left) trails series leader and teammate Jenson Button by 14 points.

Rubens Barrichello arrives at the Brazilian Grand Prix with more on the line than just the Formula One title.

He has a chance to end a 17-year winless streak at his home track, which would fulfil a longtime dream.

“I feel so great to be here,” the Brawn GP driver said. “I put my hands into the sky to thank for the car I have and for the wins that I have and for the chance I have to win in Brazil, something that I have been dreaming of for a long, long time.”

Barrichello, 37, has come agonisingly close to victory at Interlagos but never finished better than third in 2004 with Ferrari.

A year earlier, he was leading the race with eight laps to go before a fuel problem in his Ferrari caused his retirement when he had victory within his grasp.

This year he has one of his best chances to finally come through. He has had a remarkable season with Brawn GP and still has a shot at the drivers’ title.

Barrichello trails teammate and series leader Jenson Button by 14 points, and to extend the championship into the season finale in Abu Dhabi on November 1 he needs to win on Monday and hope Button is fourth or worse.

“Hopefully here I can just put everything out and go for the win because I need it and because I want it so badly,” Barrichello said.

He will have the undivided support of the nearly 70,000 fans expected to pack Interlagos.

He will be the only Brazilian in the race after Nelson Piquet jnr was fired from Renault in midseason, and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was sidelined for the season after a serious accident at the Hungarian GP in July.

“It has been a long road coming to Brazil and at the beginning, feeling the pressure but learning, more than anything, how to deal with it and changing to get that positive energy and just using that to your advantage,” Barrichello said.

He struggled at the start of the season and was constantly outperformed by Button, but he turned things around at the European GP in August, when he earned the first of his two victories in the last five races.

Barrichello finished second in the drivers’ standings in 2002 and 2004 with Ferrari, but never had a shot at the title then as his teammate Michael Schumacher dominated.

“I feel that particularly it’s my very first chance … to go for the title and win myself,” Barrichello said.

F1’s most experienced driver, with 286 races, Barrichello is yet to close a deal for next season despite his great season with Brawn GP, but he said he was still negotiating with the British team and also with Williams.

He said he was not worried about whether he will get a ride in 2010, adding he would have a choice.

“It was a distraction last year when I got here and I had no jobs,” he said.

“That was a distraction because it was tough going in not knowing if I could come back. So to be able to talk to teams and just to see myself in a competitive car next year is all I wish.”

Barrichello and Button were driving for Honda last year when the team announced it was folding its F1 operations.Barrichello said he even talked to Penske’s Indy Racing League team last year in case he didn’t find a ride in F1.

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