Rubens Barrichello has for the first time acknowledged that he could be approaching the end of his final season in Formula 1, as he admitted the ongoing 'silence' at Honda is 'tiresome' – and suggested countryman Bruno Senna would do well to stay away from the Japanese concern.
The most experienced driver in the history of the top flight with 264 grands prix starts to his name – eight more than Riccardo Patrese, the previous record-holder, who was invited to drive last year's RA107 at Jerez last month – Barrichello's future beyond the current campaign has been the subject of speculation for some time, with Honda seeming to offer few assurances.
Just three races from the end of the season, the under-performing Brackley-based outfit still has yet to announce any of its drivers for 2009, and Barrichello – who has triumphed on nine occasions over the course of his 16 years spent in F1, each time with Ferrari – revealed that his patience is beginning to wear thin.
“There is a lot of silence at Honda right now, and I think this is tiresome,” the 36-year-old is quoted by The Associated Press
as having said in Fuji ahead of this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix. “I've never been in a situation like this, without a contract for next year this late in the season.
“I've made it clear that if someone offers me a good contract for the next three years, I'll sign it. I see my future in a F1 car, but if it doesn't happen, it's not the end of the world.”
The São Paulista also had some words of advice for GP2 Series vice-champion Bruno Senna, who he confirmed is in talks with Honda about a possible race or test driving role next year.
Pointing to the example of the struggling Nelsinho Piquet at Renault, he warned that it would be a major mistake for Senna – the nephew of Barrichello's former mentor, the late, great three-time F1 World Champion Ayrton – to jump into the uppermost echelon too soon.
“If I could give him some advice, from a guy who likes the Senna family, I would tell him not to come to [Honda],” 'Rubinho' underlined. “Not because of my situation, but because I think that with his lack of experience, he may waste an opportunity.
“You shouldn't enter F1 just because you want to and burn everything in a year knowing that you have the capacity to be world champion. It's a big mistake.”
Whilst doubt remains over Barrichello's future with or without Honda, it is widely assumed that current team-mate Jenson Button will remain on-board in 2009. A contract renewal was mooted some months back, but the Briton is adamant that no deal has yet been done [see separate story – click here
“I am positive for next year,” the 28-year-old affirmed. “Hopefully I will be with Honda next season and we can build a very competitive car. We are not in a rush; it's fine.”