Rubens Barrichello: Formula 1 'getting back' to right place
Former Formula 1 driver Rubens Barrichello believes the sport is “getting back” to where it should be, following the championship’s acquisition by Liberty Media.
Liberty confirmed its takeover of the sport in January and installed Chase Carey as CEO, with Ross Brawn and Sean Bratches added to senior positions in commercial and sporting roles.
Liberty has already undertaken several initiatives – both inside and outside of the paddock – in order to enhance the spectacle, such as the presentation of an Ayrton Senna helmet to Lewis Hamilton in Canada, after the Briton equalled Senna's tally of 65 pole positions.
Barrichello competed in Formula 1 between 1993 and 2011, making 322 starts – a record – and took 11 wins, and reckons the sport is now heading in the right direction under new ownership.
“I think Formula 1 needs to be closer to the public,” said Barrichello, who is preparing for his Le Mans debut this weekend in the LMP2 category.
“What they made last week with the helmet in the middle of the chicane, that’s already closer.
“To be honest with you, in Stock Cars, we have an hour of signing before the race.
“All I hear is ‘Rubens I’ve been after you for 19 years, I could never get close to you’. And I have a chance to hug them, I have a chance to say thank you very much. So this is great.
“That’s what Formula 1 needs, a little cuddle, people together a little more.
“Because Formula 1 is almost a ‘no’. ‘Can I have a pass?’ ‘No.’ It’s not that we need the whole paddock full of people, but we need a little more together.
“I think Ross has what it takes to bring that back to Formula 1.
“I saw a picture on Instagram the other day, and I’m actually going to post it one time. It was James Hunt inside of Niki Lauda’s Ferrari, just for fun. Somebody would have a fight if that happened nowadays! ‘Get the fuck out of there, rah rah rah!’
“So for sure, it’s less romantic, but Formula 1 is getting back. What I saw from Lewis, I really enjoyed.”
Barrichello added that he understood the reluctance of Bernie Ecclestone to cede his position, with the 86-year-old now occupying the honorary role of ‘Chairman Emeritus’.
“At the end of the day, we can say anything about Bernie,” said Barrichello.
“The fact that he loves being there, he just loves being there. So it’s hard to cut the rope in a way.
“When somebody loves it so much… you remember at the end of my career, they said ‘ah you go home, you’ve already done a lot!’ I said: ‘Why? I just love being here, I love driving the Formula 1 cars!’”