Rubens Barrichello reaches 300 landmark
Spa-Francorchamps: Rubens Barrichello will race in a record 300th grand prix this weekend, but the popular 38-year-old Brazilian insists that retirement is not on the horizon.
Barrichello, the most experienced driver in the history of the sport, made his debut back in 1993 and has driven for six teams, winning 11 races.
He has also claimed 68 podium finishes, 637 points and 14 pole positions since his debut in the 1993 South African Grand Prix with Jordan.
Barrichello, now driving for Williams, said he was honoured to be celebrating his milestone at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, where he claimed his first pole position in 1994 for Jordan.
"I feel great, it`s a great honour to be racing in such an event," said the Brazilian. "It`s brought me some good stuff, such as my first pole position.”
"Someone said to me, `You`ll be the guy who`s crossed Eau Rouge more than anyone else`. That makes me feel good."
Barrichello added that he was surprised at his growing enthusiasm for the sport, claiming that he was relishing the experience more than ever.
"The bit that touched me is how competitive I am at 300. I feel powerful," he said.
He added that he has no plans for retirement and plans to be racing for some time to come, having enjoyed a new lease of life last season when he won two races for the Brawn GP team.
"It`s never been on my mind," he said.
"It`s going to be a hard decision to say I`m going to stop. I`ve been so honest with myself, that the day I don`t feel there`s such a big pleasure in taking the corners will be the day I know it`s time to shut down."
Despite his landmark race, there have been plenty of low points in Barrichello`s career, the most traumatic of which came at the tragedy-hit San Marino Grand Prix in 1994 where compatriot and world champion Ayrton Senna was killed.
Barrichello remembers that weekend well, having been knocked unconscious in practice when his Jordan flipped and hit a wall at the Imola track.
When he regained consciousness, the first person to visit him was Senna.
Two days later, the great Brazilian was killed when his Williams careered off the track and smashed into a trackside barrier.
"I had a broken nose, a broken memory and a broken heart in a way," Barrichello told the BBC.
"It was the very first funeral I even went to and it was very hard to believe that Ayrton was part of that.”
"It was a very tough moment but one that taught me everything I know, the one that taught me how to overcome difficulties -- and that`s why I am here right now."
Barrichello has also suffered humiliation, falling victim to Ferrari team orders at the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix when he was forced to allow team-mate Michael Schumacher through for victory.
The two clashed again at the Hungarian Grand Prix four weeks ago when the German, now driving for Mercedes, almost ran Barrichello into the pit wall in an attempt to stop him overtaking.
Schumacher, relegated 10 places on the grid for Sunday`s Belgian Grand Prix as punishment, has apologised to the Brazilian via an SMS message.
"Somebody said to him that I was under the impression he had pushed me on to the wall, and he said it wasn`t the case and he apologised for that," said Barrichello.
"I just said, `Thank you, no problem`. I accepted it, wished him a good weekend, life goes on."