Race Starts: 237; Wins: 13; Career Points: 533
That's an average of around 2.25 points per race—not too shabby given that most of them came in the old point scoring system when only the top six finishers received points. All the more impressive when you consider he's been in a rut until this season, underachieving Red Bull outfit for some time!
That's what David Coulthard's leaving behind him, and that's what Red Bull has to replace. So where do they go from here?
There are two obvious choices. The young-gun Sebastien Vettel, or the two-time World Champ Fernando Alonso.
If you follow the sport as much as I do, you'll know as well as I do, both have a legitimate shot at landing in the Milton-Keynes based squad next year. The question is: who is the better fit?
It's undeniable that Alonso—who will be turning just 27 in a little over a fortnight's time—has already secured his spot in F1's fraternity as being considered one of the greats of all time. The man defeated the legendary Michael Schumacher in back-to-back seasons, and he is widely considered to be the most complete driver on the current F1 grid.
I am a huge admirer of Alonso, and I appreciate him for what he is; a fantastic, technologically savvy, and—for the most part for at least everyone out of the UK—a media friendly race car driver. That is not to say he doesn't have some flaws, and his biggest is possibly also his biggest asset; his passion!
If Red Bull were to sign him for 2009 and beyond, they risk destabilizing a group that has had years to gel together. That is not in any way a stab at Alonso given what happened at McLaren last year! I believe the circumstances there were not favorable for Alonso at all, and I blame McLaren management and the British media ahead of Alonso for any difficulties experienced there last year.
The problem is if Alonso—who as it is widely speculated—is on the way to the Scuderia in 2010 or beyond, do you really risk breaking Red Bulls rhythm for a one or two year signing?
Furthermore, Red Bull already has a very talented, and I feel, tremendously underrated driver in Mark Webber. If Red Bull turns out a race winner car anywhere in the near future, surely he is the one who deserves to drive it with the full support and backing of the team. Surely he's earned it... surely?
I must admit I am in two minds on this topic, after all, Alonso and Webber are my two favorite drivers, apart from possibly Felipe Massa, if not simply because of all the drivers I've met and read about, he seems the nicest, most down to earth, and ultimately most like-able.
But it could be very dangerous for two such highly motivated, highly passionate, and highly talented drivers as Webber and Alonso to tee off against each other. Ultimately, neither will get the full support they require, and have earned!
So at this stage, the best suited is Vettel right? Wrong! Vettel is talented no doubt. Inconsistent no doubt! In-experienced...yep you guessed it, no doubt!
At 26 I could get stuck in a time warp for many years to come and still emerge older than he is. My point is that Vettel will have his time, where as Mark's has kind of reached the point where it's now or never!
For this reason, and for the simple fact that I would rather have at least one experienced fast driver on my team than an inexperienced freakishly fast at times, freakishly average at other times driver (or heaven forbid have two on the same team - McLaren, I'm looking at you); I want to throw another name into the hat...Rubens Barrichello.
Seriously, how can you not love him! He's passionate, he at least appears to be a very nice and humble man, and above all, this last week has proved he's still got it!
Rumors are swirling that perhaps Rubeno is on the outs at Honda, and that Alonso himself may very well be heading there next year unless Renault can produce a car that doesn't resemble an old trolley you'd normally find out the back of your local super market.
Nevertheless—if I were Alonso—I wouldn't exactly want to jump into one that seems to be the same trolley but with bung wheels and fuzzy bunny ears hanging off the front, as Honda's 2008 challenger is shaping up to be!
Surely a man as experienced as Rubeno (most experienced F1 driver ever), and as quick as Rubeno (he's showing up the highly rated Button this year), and lets not forget, as versatile as Rubeno (his resume boasts nine GP wins—and yet played second fiddle to Schumacher for so many years), is a better fit for this still young and up and coming team!
And if that isn't all a compelling argument; how bout this? RB: Red Bull. RB: Rubens Barrichello. See how nice they roll off the tongue together. Just like they were meant to be!