Some Formula One drivers use a modern approach to learning new circuits, such as computer games, but Rubens Barrichello prefers the old-fashioned way. Of course, walking the track is a common start to a race weekend for drivers and the Ferrari man...
Some Formula One drivers use a modern approach to learning new circuits, such as computer games, but Rubens Barrichello prefers the old-fashioned way. Of course, walking the track is a common start to a race weekend for drivers and the Ferrari man will doing his learning on foot and with the aid of a bicycle at the inaugural Bahrain Grad Prix this weekend. Meanwhile, team engineers will be planning the car set up with the aid of technology.
"I like to approach a new circuit in the old-fashioned way, which is to get to the track and walk round it or maybe cycle," said Barrichello. "I will probably do a couple of laps, walking, running or cycling to develop a feel for the place."
"By the time I get in the car, the engineers will have done all the necessary circuit simulation programmes and they will know what speeds we can expect and the most likely gear for each corner. Then all you can do is start driving and learn the track phase by phase. But to be honest, once you are used to finding the limits of a Formula 1 car, learning a new track is not such a big deal."
Bahrain's desert location may not give the drivers much in the way of landmarks to aid them for braking points, or other navigational assistance. "I have heard there might not be so many points around the circuit to help the drivers, which is natural I guess given it is in the desert," Barrichello commented.
"But I have always been open minded about using markers for my braking or turning points. Sometimes there might be something useful like a bridge across the track or a change in the surface of the asphalt. You first notice these things when you walk the track, but not until you have driven it do you know if these are useful indications or not. Only then can you decide what to take as a reference."
"Hopefully, after the first ten laps you should know enough to start making changes to the car and be on the limit. I think the specific problem with this circuit is that it is going to be dirty as it is brand new and so the limit is going to be very changeable. So, ten laps is enough to know what you are doing, but until there is a good layer of rubber on the surface, you are going to be learning all the time."
The question of security has been raised frequently in the run up to the Bahrain race but the Brazilian is not unduly concerned. "You have got to be aware of what is going on in the world," Barrichello conceded. "You only have to look at the tragic events in Madrid a few weeks ago: such a beautiful city and something like that happens."
"It means that wherever you go in the world you have to be concerned, but I think this grand prix is such a big event for this part of the world that I am sure the organisers have done all that is necessary to ensure it is a success and that all security arrangements are in place."