Rubens Barrichello remains hopeful of prolonging his record-breaking F1 career into 2012, and insists that he could still be with the Williams team as he begins his 20th season in the top flight.
The Brazilian, who made his debut with Jordan in 1993 and won eleven grands prix during subsequent spells with Ferrari and Brawn, is understood to be under threat from any number of drivers, including former world champion Kimi Raikkonen, and is not thought to have too many options beyond remaining at Williams for a third campaign. Barrichello, however, says he has been talking to other 'competitive' teams and his name has been linked to the Renault team for 2012, although he would be a rank outsider for the Enstone squad, which is thought to be considering both Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean as possible replacements for Robert Kubica should the injured not be able to return as hoped,
Barrichello, who landed - and retained - the Williams drive largely on the back of his renowned testing and development ability, spoke to reporters ahead of this weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and claimed that the speculation surrounding Raikkonen's negotiations with the Grove team was getting ahead of itself. Williams shareholder Christian 'Toto' Wolff this week confirmed that the team was in negotiation with the Finn, but any comeback from the 2007 champion is expected to be linked to the arrival of a major sponsorship deal which would cover his wage demands.
"There are a lot of talks," the 39-year old confirmed, "I believe [Williams] are talking the truth to me, and the truth is that the rumours are much bigger than the reality. F1 has become a business in a way and I think situations have been considered by the team. I just have to wait and believe and, when I have conversations, to look in the eye of people. I believe they seem to be saying the right things for me."
Barrichello, who has been paired with the well-funded Pastor Maldonado this season, admitted that he has not spoken directly with Raikkonen, but believed that the Finn has talked on briefly with the team between rallying commitments. Raikkonen is known to have visited the team's Grove facility, and will be in the UK this weekend to contest the final round of the World Rally Championship, which has been his motorsport home since he quit F1 in 2007.
"To be honest, I never talk to Kimi - even when he was racing, he never talked to me," Barrichello noted, "However, I believe that he has had very little talks with the team, by any means."
As well as Raikkonen, Force India's Adrian Sutil has also been mentioned in connection with the vacancy at Williams, while Wolff admitted that GP2 frontrunner, and currently Ferrari reserve, Jules Bianchi represented 'an aggressive alternative' to either the German or Raikkonen. Maldonado is expected to be confirmed for a second season based on his ability to bring sponsorship to the team, but Barrichello insisted that he was not going to panic about not having a deal in front of him.
"I can't talk anything bad about Kimi, I can't talk bad about anybody," Barrichello admitted, "I think all are in contention, I just hope I'm the better option. If I was in my first or second year, then I'd be very worried, but it's been such a long time, and life is too good to be moaning about problems and why they haven't signed me just yet. I'm just calling and just waiting for people to call.
"I'm not saying goodbye to my fans. I want to be there next year, taking the risks. I just have to wait and see... I'm very motivated, I'm waiting for an answer and, if God wishes, I will be on the grid for my 20th year."