Hunting for surprises: Rubens Barrichello years with Stewart Grand Prix

A quick visit through the OMP Racing storage area can provide some pleasing findings, which can awake fans' memories. It went exactly in this way when we pulled out from its original packaging this racing suit made for Rubens Barrichello, when he was competing in Formula 1 with Stewart Grand Prix. We thought it’s a good chance to relive that stint!

Let's go back to 1997 then. After four seasons together with Jordan, being able to shine delivering a couple of underdog performances, the Brazilian driver accepts the court from debuting outfit Stewart. The team name speaks itself: it is led by legend Jackie Stewart, three-time F1 world champion, and his son Paul, as they decided to make the ultimate step with their squad, after many successes in the ladder series. The project is built on solid bases, as Stewart has a contract to get official treatment by Ford, which supplies his V10 engine, and there’s a number of important backers. The maiden car, the SF01, however suffers poor reliability. Rubens has to retire in 13 out of 17 GPs for technical problems that vanish a good speed potential.

Under the rain in Monte-Carlo, though, a little miracle happens. "Rubinho" confirms once again his wet driving abilities, and he conquers an amazing second place behind Michael Schumacher. It's also a 1-2 of OMP Racing suited drivers. For the Stewart team, this will be unfortunately the only points-finish of the season. The team still struggles to concretize in 1998, with two fifth places from Rubens, in Spain and Canada, as best results.

The long-awaited turnaround comes in 1999. Stewart appoints Gary Anderson as new technical director, becoming the fourth best force on the grid. Rubens is fifth in the opening round in Australia, then he clinches his second-career pole-position at Magny-Cours and he ends third under the checkered flag, as he did in Imola. Rubens gets one more podium in a crazy race at the Nurburgring, but for Stewart there's something even bigger to celebrate: a surprising win with team mate Johnny Herbert.

For Stewart Grand Prix this is the manner to leave a mark in Formula 1 history. Ford Motor Company, appealed by the upper trend in competitiveness, has decided to acquire the team and rebrand it as Jaguar from the 2000 championship, but still using OMP racewear made at Italy’s Ronco Scrivia base. Rubens will commence a new chapter as well, joining Ferrari, but this is a different story.