The latest word on the street is that Rubens Barrichello might not be re-signed by Williams for next season.
Incredibly, the likes of Adrian Sutil and Nico Hülkenberg – the very man that the team fired after an impressive debut season last year – are now linked as possible candidates to take over the Brazilian veteran’s seat at the Grove squad.
Key figures at Williams continue to trumpet the ability of Barrichello’s team-mate Pastor Maldonado, although it should be noted that the Venezuelan rookie’s principal sponsor, PDVSA, is helping bankroll much of the team’s efforts this season. However, the team is refusing to answer whether 39-year-old Barrichello will remain on board beyond the end of this season.
Of late, Barrichello has sounded bullish about remaining in the sport for a twentieth season, but his language has seemed increasingly impatient and critical, both of the team’s lack of progress this season, and their apparent hesitation to re-sign him for next year.
It should equally be noted that the rumours surrounding Barrichello are originating from Germany, home to both Sutil and Hülkenberg, with the authoritative Auto Motor und Sport claiming that Barrichello is also becoming frustrated at having to carry the development burden for the team’s disappointing FW33 chassis.
“Never have I wanted to be a test driver,” he is quoted as saying, referring to the team’s practice of using his car as an apparent test mule for the team’s technical developments.
“We are bringing too many new parts to the car and only confusing ourselves,” he added.
At last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, Barrichello ran with a more pared back set-up, and was once again the more impressive driver in comparison to Maldonado.
The fundamental problem, Barrichello believes, is that the FW33 burns out its rear tyres too quickly.
“Our car cooks the rear tyres,” he complained. “The driveability of the engine is bad and in slippery conditions it’s even worse. No matter what we do, we can’t make the tyre problem go away.”
It’s difficult to know how much to read into the suggestion that either Sutil or Hülkenberg could be tempted to move away from their respective roles at Force India, although neither may be happy with the team’s announcement that it would delay deciding its driver line-up until the end of the season – the point by which many potentially better drives may have already been snapped up.