A cynic might suggest that nobody is more experienced in the subtle art of making sure that the right driver wins than former the Ferrari mastermind Ross Brawn. And there were a few such people in the paddock in Barcelona yesterday as Rubens Barrichello did not try to hide his displeasure at being left on a three-stop refuelling strategy while team-mate Jenson Button was afforded the opportunity to switch to a two-stop and thus won a Spanish GP that had seemed to be gift-wrapped with a tag bearing the Brazilian's name.
"It is good for him and the team that they changed the strategy," Barrichello said, glancing over at Button, "but I'd like to understand why they did that." Or rather, why they did that just for Button. It is not just Brawn who calls the strategy in such circumstances, rather a group of engineers, but Brawn owns the team. "This morning we decided three stops was the way to go," said Barrichello (below with Button). "But we'll have a meeting again and then we'll have some answers."
His mien and body language spoke volumes, though his manner with Button was what it has always been: close friendship and respect. But then questioners began to compare it with his time at Ferrari, when he was forced to surrender race wins to Michael Schumacher. "Ferrari all over again?" he said. "I'm very experienced with that and if it happens I won't follow any team orders any more. I'm making it clear now so that everybody knows."
At that point Button interjected curtly: "Our strategic calculations said a three-stop was quicker. Full stop." Barrichello's face suggested that, having made his point publicly, he felt things were getting out of hand. "It is much more different than what we had at Ferrari, much more friendly. I just need to know what went wrong today, that's it.
"I'm definitely putting my hands to the sky to say thanks because this is a great car. Not so long ago people were putting flowers on my grave and saying my driving was over."
"We both work very closely in the team," Button said, answering the Ferrari accusation. "We are both here to win. It went my way today, but he might win in Monaco."
Brawn said: "I don't want a driver who doesn't get angry in such situations. But if you look at the lap times, they show that Rubens was not as quick as we expected. That's what won Jenson the race."