Rubens Barrichello remained upbeat despite losing the world championship title to his Brawn teammate Jenson Button in the Brazilian Grand Prix - insisting that 2009 had still been an incredible season for him too.
Despite starting 13 places clear of Button on pole position at Interlagos, Barrichello slipped to third by the time the first pit stops were complete, then later dropped to eighth with a puncture, while Button came through to finish fifth -- putting the championship beyond his team-mate's reach. But Barrichello was not downcast -- pointing out that 12 months ago it looked like he might leave Formula 1 with a whimper as Honda considered dropping him for 2009.
"I've said before that people put flowers on my coffin at the beginning of the year, and I was back, driving a fantastic car and I was so, so up for it." Barrichello told reporters. "I've got to really thank God for the situation I've had for the year. It was a great car to drive all year.
"I'm pleased for Jenson as a friend and as a great champion, and if I didn't win, he should have won it, so well done to him."
Barrichello reckoned he had been the better driver in the second half of the season, by which time Brawn had lost its early dominance and regularly trailed Red Bull, McLaren and others.
Button won six of the first seven races, but failed to win again, while Barrichello's first victory of 2009 did not come until Valencia at the end of August.
"Jenson won it, and he deserved to do it, but he won it on the first six races, and I think the second half of the championship was mine," said Barrichello. "It was a true fight and I fought really hard, but in a time of the championship when we didn't have the performance of that grade anymore. So it was a big fight and I kept going, kept myself alive, and I'm really pleased."
He also paid tribute to the team's efforts in its first year under Ross Brawn's full control.
"They've been superb, and I think Ross was able to get everyone together, to give speeches to prepare them, and they were really well prepared," he said. "It's a hell of a team and it deserves to win. We will have a good night together because I feel the constructors' title is part of me as well and I'm happy for that."