Rubens: 'No farewell today...'
SAO PAULO, Brazil - Rubens Barrichello tuned out talk of retirement on Saturday after Sebastian Vettel led tributes to an F1 stalwart who has been racing for as long as the World champion could remember.
Williams has yet to announce its drivers for 2012 but 39-year-old Brazilian Barrichello is fighting - seemingly against the odds - to stay on for a 20th season in the sport he entered in 1993.
NO FAREWELL TODAY
"It would be a shame to lose Rubens - he belongs here," said Red Bull's Vettel who was only five years old when Barrichello made his F1 debut but took a record 15th pole for the season on Saturday for the Brazilian finale. “He loves what he does."
Brazilian Barrichello, who qualified 12th for what could be his final race at Interlagos, said he was honoured by the compliments but ruled out any farewell to the fans after Sunday's season-ender.
"People are now talking about retirement... I just hope I will be racing in 2012 because you have Michael (Schumacher) and (Pedro) de la Rosa and they are much older than me – I’m the kid on the block.
"It would mean a great deal for me to have 20 years (in F1) when I'm 40 but it has to be the right combination. I think Williams has that combination. I can help them grow. I would love for that to happen."
'IF THAT'S WHAT IT TAKES...'
Barrichello spent six seasons with Ferrari and Schumacher and won 11 races with that team and Brawn. Now he is talking to other teams and seeking financial backers to make the decision easier.
Buying a ride, in fact.
He said he was not too proud to do that, despite a career that has seen him start more races than any other driver - 322 of the 857 held since the championship started in 1950.
"People say ‘Rubens would feel embarrassed to ask a sponsor’. Look, if that's what it takes for me to have a competitive car, I'm surely even more powerful for doing that," he declared.
Stay with Wheels24 for the F1 weekend.