Formula 1 Insight

Batman and Rubens

The Pink Peril has acceded to our many requests for more after her brilliant debut with the post Melbourne Memories. This time, she is speaking up for a driver who has had a pretty bad press of late, culminating in the disaster that was his Australian GP. Here's a view of the guy that shows him in a rather better light:

Rubens Barrichello has copped a very public caning after a comedy of errors saw him first penalised and ultimately disqualified from the Melbourne GP. As the more rational among us have pointed out, Rubens was not entirely to blame for the series of mishaps - but this has not stopped the deluge of scorn on his head.

Rubens and fans

Being a genuinely nice guy, I am sure poor Rubens will be taking the criticism to heart so I thought I'd relate an encounter I had with him on Saturday night, which paints him in a far more flattering light.

It was about 6.30pm and the searing sun was just beginning to set on the horizon. A group of about 200 hardcore fans were hanging about the media centre in a sweaty heaving mass, waiting for the drivers to come out so we could get photos, autographs and the like.

So when we saw a brand new gold Honda Euro Accord come up the driveway, we knew that either Jenson or Rubens was about to make their exit.

To our chagrin, instead of stopping in front of us as usual, the car continued on and pulled in behind the Paddock Club Bar, out of our sight. We were a bit surprised to say the least - even Kimi and Felipe had walked out to their brand new Scuderia's parked in front of us, and took the time to come over to the fans.

Still - who are we to argue if a driver just wants to leave the circuit quickly and quietly? After all, getting an autograph or photo is a privilege not a right, and although we might be disappointed, we would certainly get over it.

So the crowd settled back to wait - we were nothing if not patient - and after a few minutes we saw the Honda driving back towards us with a clearly visible Rubens in the front seat. Of course we cheered anyway, the mere sight of a driver - any driver - was enough to bring out even the most reticent of cheer squads. To our delight the car slowed and a window was wound down, and a cheekily grinning Rubens stuck his head out with his hand cupped around his ear. "I can't hear you," he sang out, to even louder cheers and applause. "What was that?" he called over, sticking his cupped ear out of the car window even further, and the crowd erupted again.

When Rubens was satisfied that he had worked us up into enough of a frenzy, he hopped out of the car to deafening cheers and began to sign autographs for us. By this stage some hardcore Brazilian fans - draped in flags - were singing something in Portuguese, and having a lively discourse with their hero. Whatever the dialogue was, it was clearly amusing as soon they were all in fits laughing. Things then quietened down enough for us to hear a tiny Japanese fan at the front, decorated with a Brazilian flag painted on her cheek and a Schuey-signed Ferrari cap perched on her head, plaintively calling out "Lubens, Lubens, I love you".

Rubens paused in his signing, beamed at her, then leant over and kissed her on the cheek! The crowd went wild, with the Japanese fan swooning. Luckily for her the crowd was pressing her up against the barrier, or down she would've gone. Last thing we heard from her was a breathy whisper of "Oh, I love you forever, Lubens" before the man of the moment kissed her again, *wrapped his cape around his shoulders and cried out "To the Batmobile", disappearing off into the night.

Rubens gives the signal

Although the jury is out as to exactly how many race starts Rubens has had, it is clear that at some point this year he will pass Ricardo Partrese's record of 256 GP starts, thus making him the most experienced driver ever. After years of playing Robin to Schumacher's Batman and only rarely being able to let his own talent shine through, before then being rewarded at Honda with the Worst Car Everâ„¢, it seems we have forgotten how much entertainment and value Rubens has given us over the years.

I would argue that 15 seasons of F1 is a superhero effort from anyone, and I for one hope it is many seasons before Rubens hangs up his cape for good.

* Ok, maybe this bit didn't actually happen.

Pink Peril


Alianora La Canta
Another excellent piece of writing, Pink Peril. A good luck at "nice guy" Rubens. Pleased to see he understands how to make fans happy :)
Date Added: 20/03/2008

What a great story - thanks again, Ms Peril.

That was always Ruben's problem, wasn't it. Too much of a nice guy for his own good. Too nice for an F1 racer!
Happy to be Robin, as you so delightfully put it, for so long.

How many front line F1 racers would put up with not ever being given the chance to win, unless number 1 get's a problem.
Some have shown recently that they wouldn't even put up with someone given the same status as them!

I know Eddie Irvine wasn't happy with such a situation and it was always a shame for me that Ruben's never tried his hand elsewhere... Not that it worked out that well for Eddie. Or Lubens when he finally left for the Japanese marque.

Holy rising sun, Batman. This car's a piece of s....
Date Added: 20/03/2008

Nice guys don't win, that's for sure.
Date Added: 20/03/2008

Great post! I think everyone forgets that these guys are human, they all have personalities (I for one will never forget Schumacher breaking down at the press conference in- Monza?-)and they aren't necessarily the evil doers or super heroic figures people seem to need them to be.
Date Added: 20/03/2008

Hear, hear, Vera. Just ordinary guys doing an extraordinary job...
Date Added: 20/03/2008

john f
That was a great story. I find it refreshing to finally hear about the "person" not just the actions. I will now look at him in a different light. Perhaps pink, I think.

Knowing the person inside the helmet makes so much of a difference. We tend to generalize drivers by their driving style not their personalities. It is nice to get a small slice of his life in print. These are the stories that need to be told. The problem is mainstream press believes that only bad news sells--pity. This story made me smile Thanks Pink.
Date Added: 20/03/2008

Pink Peril
Thanks guys! So often all we hear from the drivers are PC platitudes and boring monologues about the race (does anyone else want to scream when you hear the dreaded "For Sure"?) so it was really great to see their personalities shine through on the weekend. I am sure that Japanese lady is still all starry eyed !

Rubens - if you are reading this - please indulge me next time you are on the podium and borrow DC's cape for the occaison ;)
Date Added: 20/03/2008

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