Rubens Barrichello has admitted that he is trying to remain optimistic about his chances of remaining with Williams - and in F1 - in 2012, as negotiations over a new deal continue to drag on.
The Brazilian, the most experienced driver in F1 history, is hoping to start a twentieth campaign in the top flight by lining up on the grid at Albert Park in March, but confirmed that he was contending for the Williams seat with at least two other drivers as the clock continues to tick towards pre-season testing early next month. Williams is one of only two teams with a known vacancy, and Barrichello is thought unlikely to want to throw his hat into the ring at backmarker HRT just remain a part of the field.
Although there are more than half a dozen drivers currently waiting to hear whether they will be in F1 next year, most reports believe that Bruno Senna and Adrian Sutil remain Barrichello's biggest rivals, despite Friday's news that the German will face trial on assault charges at the end of the month. Vitaly Petrov, Jaime Alguersuari, Giedo van der Garde and Jerome d'Ambrosio also remain out of work, while doubt surrounds the strength of contract held by veterans Jarno Trulli, at Caterham, and Timo Glock, as Marussia.
“Well, it's taking longer than I wished for, to be honest,” Barrichello told The Flying Lap
, “I have been thinking positively, [and] have always put it this way: you've got to believe in things and, if they haven't happened just yet, you have got to believe that they have happened in your mind.
“I am fighting for the position. I think there are two other drivers who have potential to be driving at Williams, but I feel like I am quite a good candidate and that I should be driving there. There's lot of changes for the team – the engine, new people around – and I think what I can tell people at Williams is that experience comes gratis
, in a way. It's just there.
“Where are you going to find someone with my experience and so much of a will to do well? I still have so much feeling for the car and I want to drive it as fast as I can. I don't know how that is happening because, when I was in my 20s, I thought 'I don't know, maybe when I'm 30, I'm done'. I'm now 39 and I'm still feeling ready to go. I think this is the best thing that can be happening to me right now and I hope to be driving this year.”
Although Barrichello has apparently been working hard to land the sort of sponsorship that could keep him at Williams, fellow Brazilian Senna is known to have similar support from the likes of Embratel, while Sutil, if he is free to drive, could bring backing from Medion computers. Petrov, d'Ambrosio and van der Garde are also thought to be in the frame at Williams, although the Russian has also been linked to the possible ousting of either Trulli or Glock.