x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Barrichello looks for home help

The Brazilian needs a victory in Sao Paulo if he is to keep alive his hopes of winning the world championship.

Rubens Barrichello, in action above during Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix, knows that he needs to put in a strong display at the Brazilian Grand Prix to keep his title dreams alive.
Rubens Barrichello, in action above during Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix, knows that he needs to put in a strong display at the Brazilian Grand Prix to keep his title dreams alive.

Rubens Barrichello is hopeful his home crowd can help drive him closer towards the world title at the Brazilian Grand Prix later this month as he looks to keep his championship dream alive until the final round in Abu Dhabi. Barrichello has endured mixed fortunes at his home city of Sao Paulo, retiring from 10 out of his first 11 races at Interlagos. But the Brawn GP racer, who has two races left in which to make up 14 points on teammate Jenson Button, said he was confident of improving on his best finish in front of his home crowd - third for Ferrari in 2004.

Barrichello said: "It's my home race and I love going there. I'll be there going all out for the win and hopefully take the championship battle to the final race in Abu Dhabi." The undulating nature of the Interlagos circuit in two weekends' time should play to the strengths of the Brawns of Button and Barrichello, both of whom have struggled at the last two races in Singapore and Japan. Barrichello admitted he had got his set-up wrong at the weekend in Suzuka as his seventh place saw him cut Button's championship lead by just one point but he blamed the safety car, which was deployed late in the race following Jaime Alguersuari's crash, for costing him another place.

"I would have finished sixth if it wasn't the safety car but I can't complain as realistically this is the best I could have hoped for," he said. "So that's a bit frustrating but I'm feeling good going to Brazil and my championship bid is still very much alive." The Brazilian has gone well at Interlagos in the past, having taken pole position twice there in 2003 and 2004 when he drove for Ferrari.

He came closest to winning there in 2003 when he was agonisingly forced to retire from the lead with seven laps to go due to a fuel feed problem. With his points advantage over Barrichello and Sebastian Vettel, whose win in Suzuka took him to within 16 points of the top spot in the drivers' standings, Button undeniably has the upper hand as the season begins to draw to a close. While Barrichello and Vettel will need to go all out for victory, Button looks certain to adopt a conservative approach to the race knowing that third place will be enough for the title regardless of other results in the race.

"I go to Brazil positive and looking forward to the challenge," said Button. "Rubens is always quick there so it is going to be a challenging weekend but a fun weekend as well. I expect the Red Bulls will also be quick there but this is a circuit that suits us. "For me, it's now all about finishing races and picking up points. I want the best result I can, which is to win races, and we will get as close as we can to that. But it is more about not making mistakes - that for me is the most important thing."

Barrichello needs to cut Button's lead by at least five points at Interlagos to set up a championship decider in the final race of the year for a third successive season while, mathematically at least, Vettel can still win the title with a win and a second place in the final two races but knows that two victories gives him his only realistic shot. Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said he would do "everything in my powers" to put Vettel in a position to win at Interlagos.

"Brawn and Button in particular still have a big points lead so we've still got a massive mountain to climb," said Horner, "and there is the suggestion that Interlagos will suit the Brawns. "But tracks that supposedly suited us and them this season have not always turned out like that so it's all to play for. "Our objective is always to win every race but that is even more vital for Sebastian now.

"We have got one driver going for the championship and there's a little bit of momentum on our side after Japan so we'll push with everything we've got to win in Brazil and also Abu Dhabi." Horner also pointed to the example of the 2007 season when Lewis Hamilton lost the championship after going into the final two races with a 17-point lead - a greater advantage than Button currently boasts - in a bid to inspire his team.

"There's all sorts of funny twists and turns in Formula 1 and, as we've seen in the past, it's not over until the championship is no longer mathematically possible," said Horner, "so we won't rest for a minute leading to Brazil." mmajendie@thenational.ae