Rubens Barrichello is adamant that next weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix will not
prove to be his Formula 1 swansong – as he stresses the importance of experience in 2009, given the sport's raft of regulation changes set to sweep in.
Experience is something of which Barrichello has no shortage, having begun more races in the top flight than any other driver in history, and he recently admitted that he is growing restless of the 'tiresome' silence at Honda regarding the squad's driver line-up for next season.
With double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso looking ever-more likely to remain at Renault, overtures are now seemingly being made by the Japanese concern to Barrichello's countryman and GP2 Series Vice-Champion Bruno Senna, who is expected to be offered a test with the team in the near future.
It is understood that an impending sponsorship tie-up with Brazilian oil company and former Williams' backer Petrobras means a home-grown driver will be a pre-requisite at the Brackley-based outfit. Whilst it is widely believed that should a change take place, it will be Barrichello rather than generally evenly-matched team-mate Jenson Button who is shown the door, the 36-year-old insists he is not unduly concerned for the security of his seat.
“Next year, experience is going to be essential,” the São Paulista told German magazine Auto Motor und Sport
, adding in a separate interview with the Associated Press
when asked about Interlagos: “I'm not seeing it as my last race.
“It's just another Brazilian Grand Prix, one that is always fantastic because of the energy we get from the fans. I'll just try to have a good race; Interlagos will be packed with fans cheering for Felipe [Massa] and for me as well.
“I won't be making my farewell race just yet. I don't have to think about that right now.”
claims that in an effort to retain his seat Barrichello has even offered to lose some eight kilograms in weight over the winter to bring himself in-line with Button, whilst he has also been linked of late to Scuderia Toro Rosso – a team seeking an experienced driver – as he bids to prolong his F1 career into a 17th season.
Meanwhile, another name entering the Honda frame is that of Nelsinho Piquet, whose Renault contract is understood not to have been automatically renewed despite impressive recent form. International news agency Reuters
suggests long-time Renault Driver Development member and GP2 Series star Lucas di Grassi is being groomed by the Régie
to step into his compatriot's shoes alongside Alonso in 2009.
“What I want is to try to take a step-up in my career and become an official F1 driver,” the 24-year-old underlined. “There is a good possibility that I will be in F1 next year.
“My first option is Renault because they have been investing in my career – but I would be happy with any other team. The option is up to Renault – they have the possibility of extending my contract, so I am waiting for their decision to see if it will be with Renault or if I will have permission to negotiate with other teams.
“Everything I could do, since F3, GP2, Formula 1 tests, was good and more than satisfactory to be able to achieve F1.
“If there was a spot, and it depended only on my talent, I would have already got there – but F1 is a little bit more complex, it involves other processes and political and commercial decisions, so I have to wait.”