Speculation surrounding Rubens Barrichello's future, both in F1 and with the Williams team, continues to toss and turn into the sport's summer break, amid conflicting reports about his relationship with the Grove-based outfit.
It has already been suggested that the Brazilian veteran is under threat from two Force India drivers [read story here
], with Adrian Sutil and former team-mate Nico Hulkenberg both being linked to a Williams seat for 2012, and Barrichello appeared to have done little to suggest that he will be hanging around to fend off the opposition, until using Twitter
to react to reports claiming that he was about to quit.
Barrichello, already F1's most experienced driver of all time, is highly valued by Williams for his experience and development abilities, but insists that he is not prepared to act as a test pilot during race weekends. While the situation is exacerbated by the ban on in-season testing, the Brazilian has been critical of the team appearing to 'chase its tail' with a stream of development ideas that are having to be evaluated during race weekends, especially as nothing seems to be making the FW33 any more competitive.
Although changes are in the pipeline for next season, with Renault already signed to replace Cosworth as the team's engine supplier, and former Ferrari man Mike Coughlan installed to take over from technical director Sam Michael after Korea following the Australian's decision to step down, there is no guarantee that Barrichello will remain on board.
The Brazilian has already been critical of the way the current car uses its tyres [read story here
], and is equally concerned about the amount of confusion surrounding the best way to take the team forward.
"I never wanted to be a test driver," the 39-year old, who has scored all of Williams' four points this season, told Italy's Corriere dello Sport
, "In recent months, we have brought too many aerodynamic parts, we could not test them completely and, to be honest, you can't use a race for testing anyway.
"We are confused, the team is shrouded in uncertainty and it's an incredible situation. I don't know if I will continue next year in these conditions."
Almost as soon as those 'quotes' appeared, and were re-reported, however, Barrichello was indicating the opposite, suggesting that he would be fighting to keep his seat, and potentially his F1 future, alive into 2012.
“I saw some news saying that I wanted to stop racing,” he wrote on his Twitter
feed over the weekend, “Makes me laugh really. All I want is to carry on racing."
The veteran, whose contract with Williams expires after the season finale on his home circuit at Interlagos in November, confirmed that all was not well at Grove, but insisted that he was prepared to stick by the team and help it come through its travails.
"[We're] working double hard to have a good car for next year," he noted, "Problems do exist and we are here to solve them. Williams need me as much as I need them. And, to be honest, I told Williams that, if they offered me a two-year contract, I would sign right now.”