Guest Author - Christine Blachford
It seems to be the time of year for record-breaking statistics, especially when it comes to the one for Grand Prix starts. Two weeks ago in Turkey, Rubens Barrichello broke the record for the driver with the most number of GP starts, nothing up his 257th. There were some discrepancies amongst various bodies, as some of the starts were not as straight forward as they should have been – red flags, etc – but Barrichello, and the record books, decided Turkey was the date.
He celebrated by decorating his Honda car with a new 257th livery, duplicated on his helmet also. He and other F1 drivers, including Coulthard and Hamilton, took a day out to visit the golf course and celebrate this momentous occasion.
It did feel a bit odd to me that they did the celebrating – including being presented with a massive cake - before he’d actually started the Turkish Grand Prix, which may have been tempting fate a little. However, it all played out fine, and the record now stands with Barrichello.
He has said that now he’s reached this milestone, he wants to go on and reach the 300 mark. This would mean his driving for at least another couple of years, though, and as one of the older drivers on the grid, it does seem unlikely this would happen. However, if it keeps him motivated to carry on, then it’s a wonderful aim, and I hope he proves me wrong. Having been Michael Schumacher’s number two for so long in the Ferrari team, it’s good to see him enjoying a new found freedom with Honda, even if the results are elusive at the moment.
Elsewhere, Giancarlo Fisichella is set to start his 200th GP this weekend in Monaco. He joined Force India this year, after a turbulent year at Renault in 2007. Left to lead the team after Alonso defected to McLaren, Fisichella floundered slightly, and it wasn’t a surprise when he was ousted by the returning Spaniard. However, Fisichella was picked up by Force India, where he fights for points from the back of the grid. Whilst 200 is not quite breaking any records yet, it is a great milestone and Fisichella says he is proud to have reached it. He also notes that whilst still being 57 starts behind Barrichello, he’s still got plenty of fight in him and hopes to carry on for a few more years yet. Fisichella will celebrate with a special helmet design as well.
Fisichella joins a select few other drivers who have reached the 200 GP mark, with great names such as Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost, Gerhard Berger, and David Coulthard.