LONDON, Sept 2, 2011 (Tim Collings/AFP) - Brazilian veteran Rubens Barrichello has urged his Williams team to follow the example of Red Bull and Mercedes and put their faith in experience next year by re-signing him as lead driver for 2012.
Barrichello, who will be 40 shortly before the 2012 Monaco Grand Prix, said he felt the Williams team, struggling through a transitional period, would be making a mistake if it dumped him in favour of a younger 'pay driver' to boost the budget.
The Brazilian, a veteran of a record 315 Grands Prix in a 19-year career that started with the Jordan team in 1993, is as keen and enthusiastic as ever, but said he is aware that the team is weighing up its options.
"My feeling right now is unless Williams have money problems, they should stick with what they have right now -- a very experienced and very motivated driver with a young driver developing himself," said Barrichello.
"To have two kids for next year is the wrong thing to have. I am just waiting on my side. I cannot offer any more."
The Red Bull team last weekend confirmed it had re-signed Australian Mark Webber, 35, to continue as team-mate to 24-year-old German defending world champion Sebastian Vettel while Mercedes continues to place its faith in 42-year-old German Michael Schumacher, a veteran of seven world title wins.
Williams second driver is Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado, 26, who is in his rookie season.
Seasoned observers in the paddock believe the team is considering moves for German Adrian Sutil of Force India or Brazilian Bruno Senna, nephew of the legendary three-time champion Ayrton Senna.
Senna recently and acrimoniously usurped German Nick Heidfeld at Renault - his potential and sponsors' package proving too much to resist compared to Heidfeld's experience and long track record.
Barrichello, one of the most popular men in the paddock, said he wants to carry on racing. "I have other things going on in F1, and I have talked to other people too," he said.
Maldonado is virtually guaranteed a seat at Williams, thanks to the lucrative sponsorship deal that the team has with Venezuelan oil company PDVSA. This, reportedly, is worth more than £25 million (US$40 million) to the team.
Talking about his continued desire to stay racing, Barrichello said: "You are there because you enjoy it, because you love what you do.
"You feel competitive because you beat your team-mate and you do well. If I have the chance of grabbing a nice car I know I can win.
"To be here 20 years for the sake of being here -- I would rather stay home. I have had enough of the politics and so on, but I still want to drive the fastest car, which is an F1 car."
It is a view that former Williams driver Webber also understands. Hinting that he considered his only other option was to retire, he said: "I've been an integral part of Red Bull since the start and I still enjoy it there. It would have been a mistake to stop racing."