Rubens Barrichello says he is looking forward to a “good healthy fight” with Jenson Button for the world championship after heading a Brawn 1-2 in Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.
The Brazilian veteran had the measure of his Brawn teammate throughout the race as the two drivers used a one-stop race strategy to leapfrog Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Adrian Sutil, and secure the team s fourth 1-2 finish of the season.
The result sees Barrichello close the gap to Button to just fourteen points with four races remaining.
“I’m going to give it my best,” said Barrichello after claiming his second win of the season, his third at Monza. “A good healthy fight – I’m looking forward to it”
With Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel finishing in eighth place, Jenson Button accepted that Barrichello is now his main rival for the championship.
“It would have been nice to be up there (in first place) rather than Rubens, but second place is good,” the Briton said in the post-race press conference. I lost two points to Rubens but gained seven points over Vettel. “This guy here is my closest rival.”
Barrichello, a veteran of 280 races, was delighted with the result.
“It feel great, just great. I have no words for this. We didn’t know about the gearbox and there some concerns last night, but it was great.
“It was great to have a good start. Kovalainen was coming up quite fast with his power (KERS) button, and I had to defend myself. I went wide which was a bit tough, but it was a great first lap.
“My race pace was there and it was pretty much like Valencia as the car was there all the time. It felt great and I have no words for that. I just feel really good. And the public were great too; there was more red than white (in the grandstands) but it still feels great!”
Barrichello also praised the team’s decision to run a heavy fuel load in qualifying.
“It was a great decision,” he said. “The guys with KERS have about 20 meters advantage over us at the start and we had to have that in mind. There are some times when you don’t have to think about that, but the start/finish straight is so long we had to think about it.”
“We had a good start and a good race pace which was enough to stay ahead of the KERS runners.
“It feels great. It’s a winning year whatever happens [in the title race]. It’s not long ago that we had no job and we didn’t know what was happening. And now we have a fantastic car and a fantastic engine.
“The team did a fantastic job, I must thank them for their efforts. The strategy was great, as was the work on Friday.
“So it was pretty good. You can see we both had different strategies and different tyre choices but in the end the car was good.
“I’m going to give it my best. I’m looking forward to a good healthy fight.