Former F1 driver Rubens Barrichello believes that Jenson Button could “come back stronger” if he returns to racing with McLaren in 2018.
Co-author: Erick Gabriel, Editor de Nascar no Motorsport.com Brasil
Barrichello, who was Button’s teammate at Brawn when Jenson won the Formula 1 World Championship in 2009, believes that a season’s sabbatical in 2017 could do the Briton a world of good.
Button will take on McLaren reserve driver and ambassadorial duties next season, allowing Stoffel Vandoorne to make his fulltime debut in F1. McLaren has the option for him to return in 2018.
“I think only he can talk about it,” Barrichello told Motorsport.com. “I think when you spend a long time in Formula 1, you are very limited in your day-after-day [life], to always do the same things.
“If you want a time to get together with family you have to travel to commitments with sponsors, to travel to the factory, to the simulator, etc.
“Button reaches 300 races soon and have no doubt that it is mentally tiring. With a sabbatical year and having the chance to come back, he may come back stronger.”
Shock at Massa’s retirement decision
Barrichello also spoke about fellow Brazilian Felipe Massa’s recent decision to retire from F1.
“Massa’s retirement made me very surprised, I did not expect this kind of news,” added Barrichello. “I did not think it was time, but only the driver knows when it's time to go to do another thing.
“As I wrote on social media: ‘happiness is worth more than anything else we have in life’ – then he needs to be happy. Today, I'm happier than in my Formula 1 time.”
Barrichello now races in the Brazilian Stock Car Championship, and believes it could be somewhere that Massa will race in future seasons.
“Felipe Massa would be welcome in any situation here in Brazil,” he said. “You lose a driver to support in Formula 1, but gain him in motor racing in general.
“I do not see his name being mentioned here for next year, but I think in the future we can expect this to happen.”