He might be almost 40 years of age, he might be about to mark his 300th grand prix start in Belgium at the end of the month and he might be the longest-serving driver in F1 history, but Rubens Barrichello clearly has no intention of hanging up his helmet just yet, as he confessed that to renew his contract with Williams into 2011 is simply 'a natural process'.
Having made his debut at the highest level with Jordan Grand Prix all the way back in 1993 – and since then triumphed eleven times, ascended the rostrum on no fewer than 68 occasions and driven for some of F1's most legendary names – the veteran Brazilian now looks set to prolong his record-breaking career into an incredible 19th consecutive campaign next year.
Last month, the Grove-based operation's eponymous founder Sir Frank Williams strongly hinted at an extended relationship with Barrichello into 2011 [see separate story – click here
With both sides having mutually benefitted from the collaboration and the Paulista's recent brace of strong points-scoring finishes – a superb fourth in Valencia and an excellent fifth at Silverstone, lifting him to the fringes of the top ten in the drivers' standings – pointing to sustained progress at the former multiple world championship-winning outfit, it looks like the evergreen, ever-enthusiastic 'Rubinho' will be a fixture on the grand prix grid once more this time next year.
“We have been working together on the 2011 car,” the 38-year-old told Brazilian media, “so I think the [contract] renewal is a natural process. The team has used me in the best possible way. With Williams we have 100 per cent confidence in talking about the car now. From the moment we chose this way, especially in the wind tunnel, everything has improved.
“It is hard to say when Williams will win again, but the trend this year has been very noticeable. The greatest pride is that my information has not only served me, but my team-mate (rookie Nico Hülkenberg) as well. We are on the right track.”
In celebration of the unprecedented landmark he is set to reach at Spa-Francorchamps, Barrichello has commissioned a special commemorative T-shirt – more details of which can be found on his Twitter account – and if anyone is still in any doubt about his continued motivation and hunger, Williams technical director Sam Michael suggests that his utter determination to overtake former team-mate Michael Schumacher in Hungary earlier this month 'just proved to everyone how completely committed Rubens is'.