Williams looks set to field an unchanged driver line-up into the F1 2011 World Championship campaign, with the Grove-based outfit's veteran co-founder and team owner Sir Frank Williams singing the praises of the experienced Rubens Barrichello.
Williams' present pairing of Barrichello and rookie Nico Hülkenberg is a balance of the old and the young, and of seasoned guile and raw speed. Whilst the German is widely-regarded to be a long-term project for the former multiple F1 World Champions, questions have been raised about just how long his 38-year-old team-mate – now incredibly in his 19th year of top flight competition, making him the most experienced driver of all time – is likely to carry on. The Brazilian has notched up seven of Williams' eight points to-date in 2010, with a best result so far of eighth place in the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne
The Paulista's input has already been highly lauded by Cosworth's head of operations Mark Gallagher, who has opined that it will be Barrichello who takes Williams back to the top step of the podium in F1 for the first time since the final grand prix of 2004 at Interlagos [see separate story – click here
] – and now Williams himself has confessed to German publication Auto Motor und Sport
that 'without Rubens, we would be nowhere'.
Indeed, the likely status quo
at Williams appears to be somewhat par for the course across the board in F1 in 2011, with Red Bull Racing, McLaren-Mercedes and Ferrari all likewise set to remain as they are. Robert Kubica now appears odds-on to stay at Renault for a second consecutive campaign, meaning the only major question mark surrounds Michael Schumacher, and whether a poor comeback to-date will influence the multiple world champion's decision to honour his three-year deal with Mercedes Grand Prix or else cut loose two seasons early.
The Brackley-based outfit's test and reserve driver Nick Heidfeld – the man who 'Schumi' pipped to the position alongside Nico Rosberg this year – has hinted that the record-breaking German legend has no intention of throwing in the towel, contending that 'the top ten seats [for 2011] are gone already'.
Further down the order, meanwhile, Force India seems keen to reward its own reserve Paul di Resta with a race cockpit, whilst Scuderia Toro Rosso would likely similarly look to promote from within by recruiting a member of the Red Bull young driver pool.