Rubens Barrichello has confirmed that Honda is in discussions with former double Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso regarding 2009, but insists that he is confident in his own future in the top flight – be it at the Brackley-based outfit or elsewhere.
It has been mooted on a number of occasions in recent weeks that Alonso is high up Honda's shopping list for next year, with both team principal Ross Brawn and CEO Nick Fry doing little to pour cold water on such speculation by confessing that they would welcome the current Renault star at the squad [see separate story – click here
Such a move, however, would displace either Barrichello or team-mate Jenson Button, also experienced grand prix winners both – with the former believed to be most at risk. Whilst the Brazilian admitted that Alonso is on Honda's radar for next season – with his own contract, like that of Button, due for renewal at the end of the current campaign – he remained adamant that he had no real cause for concern just yet.
“I think the team is definitely talking to Fernando,” he acknowledged ahead of this weekend's European Grand Prix, “but that's the question mark. I have never been so enthusiastic about my whole situation with the team.
“I left Ferrari because I didn't have the freedom to do what I wanted to do. I have that at Honda, but I still have not had the car to perform and I am waiting for that chance.
“Honestly, the day that I feel that I am slower than my first race is the day I will call it off and stop. The conversations are there and I am talking to the team; I am talking to all the teams. I want to be racing.”
The most experienced driver in F1 history also explained that whilst the big-budget Japanese concern has now exhausted the bulk of the development work on its unloved RA108, he is optimistic of a better weekend in Valencia – and of a far more encouraging 2009 in general.
“I think in terms of pure developments – aerodynamic and mechanical – that's it,” he mused, “but we have to optimise everything that we brought to Hungary and before. We have new, little things in place.
“We had a new rear suspension for Hungary, but unfortunately we couldn't rig test it before because of lack of time, and in these two weeks we could see that there was a big margin for improvement. We are expecting that to work better here.
“The spirit is good because, although the preparation for next year is already in place, people are working very, very hard with the tools that we have in-hand to improve the car. I am definitely looking forward to the end of the season with the tracks that are coming, as we can score points.”