Rubens Barrichello is something of a Silverstone specialist. The Brazilian has always been awesome around the Northamptonshire circuit, and it is one of the few places where he was able to consistently beat Michael Schumacher in the same car. The venue has played host to some of his greatest moments. Barrichello took his first ever Ferrari pole position at Silverstone in 2000, and almost won the 2002 race despite starting at the back of the grid.
Then of course there was his epic drive in 2003 that saw him storm through the leaders to claim a sensational victory. The oldest driver in Formula One clearly excels around the abandoned World War Two airfield.
This, combined with Barrichello’s legendary wet weather prowess, meant that if anyone was going to outperform their car at Silverstone yesterday it was going to be Rubens. His third place for Honda was brilliant and could have been even better if not for a fuel rig problem.
Whilst Rubinho lived up to the promise of his track record, another Brazilian was reinforcing a reputation of a different kind.
Felipe Massa is not known for his wet weather skills, and has always struggled throughout his entire career when the heavens have opened.
Yesterday was no exception, and it was a repeat of his 2002 British Grand Prix performance when he also spent much of the afternoon facing backwards.
I get frustrated when I deal with my local Real Estate Agent because he does nothing to counter the bad reputation that Estate Agents everywhere have. It is for the very same reason that I was frustrated watching Felipe Massa during the race yesterday because he was doing nothing to challenge the perception that he can’t drive in the wet.
The Ferrari driver made numerous mistakes even before his team sent him out on the wrong tyres, and spent much of his race in dead last where he eventually finished. He ended up two laps down on the leader in a mechanically sound car that was quick enough to set fastest lap. It is certainly not the sort of performance you’d expect from a championship leader.
Whilst commentating on the radio, Anthony Davidson amusingly told listeners something along the lines of “Massa is so far of the circuit now that he is scaring away the rabbits.”
Felipe was rock solid during the opening drenched stages of the Monaco Grand Prix last month, but few people will now think back to that when judging his wet weather talent.
One of the most interesting things to come out of the British Grand Prix was that almost every driver on the grid reinforced some sort of label or characteristic during the race.
For example, Nelson Piquet has a reputation for throwing his car off the road, and that is exactly what he did yesterday. Those who believe his future at Renault is limited will have a little bit more ammunition now, and although conditions were extremely difficult out on the circuit, it doesn’t escape the fact that his race ended in the gravel.
Adrian Sutil is another driver with a similar reputation. He crashed in five of his first six F1 races and is still struggling to shake off his undisciplined image. He didn’t do himself any favours by getting beached at the Abbey chicane.
Robert Kubica made exactly the same mistake as Sutil and Piquet but everyone will attribute his accident to the conditions, rather than his ragged driving, simply because he doesn’t have the same reputation.
Sebastian Vettel has a tendency to get involved in first lap collisions, and did so again when he got taken out by David Coulthard at Priory. It was the fourth time this year he has failed to complete the opening lap of a Grand Prix.
It probably didn’t help Coulthard’s image either, who has already done a fair bit of crashing this season. He has tangled in previous races with Massa, Jenson Button, and Timo Glock.
Nico Rosberg falls into that category also having damaged his front wing yesterday for the fourth time in 2008. Those silly accidents aren’t helping his reputation when compared to that of his teammate.
Kazuki Nakajima has a knack for scoring points in difficult messy races. The British Grand Prix was yet another race this year that he has finished in the points, and he now sits equal in the World Championship standings with Rosberg.
Kazuki Nakajima is not as fast as Nico, and he also makes plenty of small mistakes, but he still keeps making it into the points!
Nick Heidfeld is in a similar situation. Yesterday was his fourth runner-up finish for BMW, and all of those have come in mixed up crazy races. Nick might not have the raw speed of his rivals but he keeps the car in one piece and brings home the big points when the opportunity allows. He is the only driver to have finished every race this season.
Lewis Hamilton was the star of the show in Silverstone, and you could argue it was the sort of performance that Lewis is becoming famous for. He drove aggressively at the start, as per usual, and then kept his head down when the others fell around him. Last year Lewis scored nine podiums in his first nine races simply because he was able to drive consistently without making mistakes, and that is exactly how he scored victory yesterday.
Mark Webber seems to get close to landing the big results but never quite makes it in the end. We saw that again yesterday. Whenever Webber has the sniff of a good result, something goes wrong for the Australian. This time he only had himself to blame after facing the wrong way on lap one. He was fastest of all in the early stages which shows what might have happened if he hadn’t made a mess of the start.
Kimi Raikkonen is someone else who reinforced one of his particular characteristics at Silverstone.
Some people say, perhaps unfairly, that when Kimi stands no chance of victory he simply turns off and loses interest. He has previously told reporters that he only cares for victory and certainly gave off that impression yesterday.
The reigning champion also has a reputation as a fastest lap expert, and scored his 31st this weekend. That is an awesome effort, especially since he has only won 17 Grands Prix, and places him third on the all-time list behind Michael Schumacher and Alain Prost.
Fernando Alonso has also developed a bit of a reputation this year for risk taking. He took another strategic gamble in Britain by keeping his original intermediates during the early pitstops, just like Raikkonen, but just like his attempts at glory in Barcelona and Monaco, it didn’t pay off.
So there you have it. If everyone lived up to their reputations we’d have a race where Vettel will go off on the first lap. Hamilton will also push hard at the start before settling into a consistent groove. Piquet and Sutil will bin it, someone will crash into David Coulthard (possibly Nico Rosberg), and Alonso will take a risk that doesn’t pay off. Kimi will be awesome until he stands no chance of victory at which point he’ll lose interest, but he’ll still set fastest lap. Mark Webber will run strongly before something happens, and in the end Nick Heidfeld, Rubens Barrichello, and Kazuki Nakajima will come through to scoop up the spoils.
Isn’t it interesting that when everyone puts in their ‘typical’ performance we end up with anything but a typical race!