Could this be the first sign that the wheels are coming off the Brawn GP team?
So far it’s been a smooth ride for the team with Jenson Button winning four out of five races, they came up trumps with their diffuser and have sound tyres strategy using the new slick tyres.
But yesterday’s decision to call Rubens Barrichello in for a third pitstop, while revising the strategy for Button to only pull in twice, has certainly created an undercurrent within the team.
Barrichello described his third set of tyres as “not good” and it meant that Button went on to win the Spanish Grand Prix, despite it looking like Barrichello’s superb start from third off the grid to leading into the first corner.
Now Barrichello has told a US sports channel: “If I get the slightest sniff of the fact that they have favoured Jenson, I will hang up my helmet tomorrow.”
However, he went on to add, he had faith in team boss, Ross Brawn. “But I know Ross wouldn’t do that,” he said. “He asked me to drive for him and he knows I want to race fairly with Jenson.”
Team orders is a sensitive subject for the veteran Brazilian, who left Ferrari in 2005 a year before his contract was us, because he was fed up with not being allowed to race team-mate Michael Schumacher.
Ross Brawn was Ferrari’s technical director at the time.
Barrichello will also be aware that Button’s win extended his lead in the world championship over his team-mate to 14 points – and that there will eventually come a time when Brawn have to focus their efforts on one driver as they seek to fend off the threat from other teams.
Asked if he feared a return to those days with his new team, Barrichello said: “I have had experience of that and if it happens I won’t follow any team orders. I’m making this clear now but we have a much more friendly situation in this team.
“There’s no way I’m going to be crying and saying I should have this or that. I had the ability to win and I didn’t.”
As the drivers waited to go out on to the podium, Barrichello sat on a sofa and asked: “How did I lose that race?”
Alex Kapadia, Operations Team