Wednesday May 9th, 2001
All the technology that has become part and parcel of every Formula One car has not made life easier for the drivers, according to Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, who claims his job is now harder than it was in the past.
Formula One cars are now technologically much more complicated than before, especially since the recent re-introduction of the so called driving aids - traction control, launch control and automatic gearbox. The general impression is that thanks those electronic aids, driving a Grand Prix machine is a lot easier now.
But Barrichello, who made his Formula One debut in 1993 just before electronic aids were banned from the sport, believes his job is harder than when he began his Grand Prix career.
"It is wrong to think that modern technology has made life easier," Barrichello claimed. "It is harder now. But there is a natural tendency in life for people to think the past was better than the present. I don't know why.
"In reality, I used to be a mid-field player with an uncompetitive car and it was great to qualify around 13 or 14 in a car that was really only good enough for 16 or 17, which was the situation in my first year, when I also qualified eighth in my third race at Donington Park. That was so enjoyable.
"Now, I am in the top four most of the time and it is harder to get enjoyment out of that as you are in a very competitive environment. If you are fourth that means you have to do a better job."
The Spanish Grand Prix ten days ago saw the re-introduction of the electronic aids which were banned at the end of 1993, and many drivers had admitted driving the car was now a less enjoyable experience. Though he reckons the fun has been reduced, Barrichello admits he still enjoys driving his car.
"Yes, I do enjoy it," he added. "As an example, at the Barcelona track, a car's balance can go off quite quickly, but with all the buttons on the steering wheel you can drive to perfection, because you can keep the car handling okay for you and I enjoy that fully.
"However, some of the items we have in the modern era reduce the element of fun. These days you brake just fifty metres from a corner and you are back on the throttle much earlier and you are letting something else control your own speed. But, at the end of the day, it is always enjoyable.
"There is always something new to learn, either because track conditions change or because you have new tyres which react differently. The car is made up of so many components and you only need to change one of them to make a difference."