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GP Week : Issue 144
25 GPWEEK OPINION >> the first round in Qatar, and pretty much everywhere in between. The final RC211V Honda was thus the ultimate 800 MotoGP prototype. And seemingly a harbinger of the death of the pure prototype genre in GP racing. It’s not that it’s just too good. It was just too expensive. Honda’s seamless gearbox was an important element in Stoner’s last run. That alone cost some six-million dollars to develop: a pure racing unit sourced from HRC’s underemployed F1 engineers. Add the cost of the chassis development: eight or ten different chassis during 2010. Then Honda’s own electronics, with countless high- price man-hours built in. Plus the class- leading engine: both powerful and reliable. That didn’t come cheap, either. Honda needed to win, so they spent to win. Can’t blame them. Honda can afford it. We have already seen where this left Suzuki. Out of MotoGP. We have seen also how Ducati is struggling, and spending. It must be making a big dent in a relatively small company. Nor is Yamaha likely to embrace having to spend to Honda’s scale, just to avoid that run-to-the-line humiliation. Understanding this, you also understand that the rival factories would welcome a cap on spending. The financial situation makes it crucial, and indeed long overdue: MotoGP has buried its head in the sand long enough, in the face of dwindling sponsorship and falling crowd figures. Indeed, Honda might welcome it as well. Not even their pockets are bottomless. Word is that initial opposition to the Dorna proposal for a control ECU and a rev limiter has softened. After all, there is room for negotiation, or a counter- proposal. But not very much time. Carmelo Ezpeleta’s deadline is May next year; the restrictions due in 2013. In the meantime, would anyone bet against Honda doing it again next year? This would be a great shame because Rubens still has a lot to offer, particularly to a team like Williams, which needs all the experience it can get right now. It’s the uncertainty of it all which bugs me because we should give Barrichello a proper send off when it ’s his last race, not a tentative ‘Au revoir, maybe see you in Melboune...’ I’m told the Raikkonen- Williams deal has hit the financial skids, so there’s a chance we may see Rubens back in action next year. I do hope so, but I think the marriage has been wrecked by mistrust. Instead, we may see Adrian Sutil in that car. A move from Force India to Williams looks likely – either as race driver or test driver. More likely the former. Sutil deserves a race seat, for sure. He demonstrated on Sunday what he’s capable of. David Coulthard lectured Barrichello from his BBC commentary box that “a sportsman’s career can’t go on forever”. But the difference is that Barrichello is still fast, as he’s proved countless times this year – not least in Brazil’s qualifying. He remains hungry – he still has the youthful energy he had when he arrived all that time ago in 1993. He might not be at his absolute peak, but the downhill slope is a gentle one, unlike the performance cliff DC seemed to step off in his final season. Barrichello can hold his head up after a tough but totally respectable year. He rounds up 2011 with four times the points tally of his wayward Venezuelan moneybags team-mate. Which tells you all you need to know about current F1. Speaking of money, three cheers to Felipe Massa who celebrated fifth place – his equal best finish of the year – by joyfully donuting in front of his countrymen. We should all have a whip round and pay his fine. Honda spends, Honda wins, racing suffers Webber's Winter warmer but is Rubens being left out in the cold?