TUESDAY 16TH AUGUST 2005
As has been rumoured in and around the Formula One paddock for several weeks, Rubens Barrichello has agreed a multi-year deal with the BAR-Honda team, starting from next season.
The Brazilian's transfer form Ferrari has been among the hot topics of the summer, a deal having first been mooted at the Hungarian Grand Prix before the traditional August break. With the inaugural Turkish Grand Prix kick-starting the end of season run this weekend, BAR has finally confirmed the speculation, although was not able to say who Barrichello would be partnering in 2006.
"Signing Rubens represents another exciting milestone in BAR Honda's development - and in Rubens' own career," CEO Nick Fry reasoned, "This is a strong and successful team that is determined to achieve its world championship ambitions, and we are confident that these will be realised soon.
"Rubens is not only an excellent driver, but he has the experience of building a race- and championship-winning team, and these skills are very important as we work to take BAR Honda to the next level. The fact that we have developed so quickly to become an attractive proposition to drivers of Rubens' standing is a fantastic credit to the team.
"We are delighted that Rubens recognises our enormous potential and wishes to help us realise our dream in the not too distant future. I would also like to thank Ferrari for all of their co-operation in allowing Rubens to join us next year."
Barrichello played a part in helping the Scuderia to claim five constructors' crowns in as many years during its recent domination of F1, but has always had to play second fiddle to multiple world champion Michael Schumacher. Although he insisted - on a regular basis - that he could beat the German, the Brazilian was never allowed to fulfil his own ambitions and Monaco this year finally showed signs of the relationship cracking.
Joining BAR should allow Barrichello to remain in contention for podiums, if not necessarily race wins, and could yet allow the Brazilian team leader status, depending on the identity of his team-mate. BAR remains keen to hold on to the Williams-contracted Jenson Button, but it may be that the Briton's enforced departure pairs Barrichello with Takuma Sato in 2006.
"BAR Honda is very much looking forward to working with a driver of the experience and talent of Rubens Barrichello," confirmed HRD president Yasuhiro Wada, "We are sure that the proven track record he brings with him will be of great benefit toward achieving our goal of winning the F1 world championship."
Jenson Button fends off Rubens Barrichello at the start of the Malaysian Grand Prix