Rubens Barrichello has stated that should he not be retained by Honda for the 2009 Formula 1 season, he will hang up his racing helmet for good rather than carry on in another series.
The Brazilian – the most 'capped' driver in the sport's history, with a record-breaking 267 grand prix starts under his belt since making his debut with Jordan all the way back in 1993 – still does not know whether he will remain a fixture on the grid next year, with Honda seeming to favour youth and 'fresh blood' over experience in the words of CEO Nick Fry, despite the raft of regulation changes coming into force as of next season.
The Brackley-based outfit is under pressure to field a Brazilian driver in 2009 at the behest of key sponsor Petrobras, and GP2 Series front-runners Bruno Senna and Lucas di Grassi are both due to test for the squad in Barcelona next week.
Should Barrichello fail to hang onto his seat – which he recognises is entirely contingent upon just how well his countrymen perform behind the wheel around the Circuit de Catalunya – it had been rumoured that he may look into joining his old friend Tony Kanaan across the Pond in the IndyCar Series, despite his wife's well-documented misgivings. Not so, he insists.
“Either I stay in F1 or I won't race,” the 36-year-old told the International Herald Tribune
. “If they (Senna and di Grassi) are good they will keep the position, but if an empty seat is left, I'll take it.”
Barrichello has also been linked to a possible drive at Scuderia Toro Rosso. The São Paulista triumphed in nine races as Michael Schumacher's team-mate at Ferrari between 2000 and 2004, and registered Honda's only podium finish of the 2008 campaign, courtesy of an inspired wet-weather charge in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Moreover, he out-scored team-mate Jenson Button by eleven points to three this season, and out-qualified the Briton ten times to eight. Button is widely expected to keep his seat at Honda in 2009.