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The end for Barrichello?


Veteran driver Rubens Barrichello's chances of staying in Formula 1 have been reduced to virtually zero.

Williams announced their decision on 17 January to sign Brazilian Bruno Senna to partner with Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado. So another Brazilian, 39-year-old Barrichello, is out of the picture.

"I won't be driving the Williams car this year. I wish my friend Senna all the best... the future is wide open," Barrichello wrote on Twitter.

Williams' decision was the second recent blow to the man known as Rubinho.

In November,  Lotus (Renault) thwarted his dream of driving for them by choosing former world champion Kimi Räikkönen instead. The Finn is to make a comeback to Formula 1 this year, two years after retiring from the top category in motorsport.

Now, the only chance for Barrichello to stay in Formula 1 lies with the humble HRT team, the only one that has yet to choose one of its two drivers for the upcoming season.

Barrichello is already the man with the longest Formula 1 career in history: since 1992, when he made his debut in the South African Grand Prix, he has competed in 322 races, managing 14 pole positions and 11 wins. In 2002 and 2004 he was runner-up in the drivers' world championship, behind Michael Schumacher.

Beyond Williams and Ferrari, the Brazilian has driven cars for Jordan, Stewart, Honda and Brawn, and yet he wants more. Barrichello wants to drive a Formula 1 car for at least one more season, so he can reach the round, unprecedented number of 20 years in the category.

"I'm not ready to quit now," he said last year. "Many fast drivers came and went because they were not happy in Formula 1. I however love it. I don't need a great contract, just a competitive car."

Many Brazilians, however, think that joining a weak team would be the worst way to end an impressive career.

"I hope he is not thinking of signing with a minor team. The history of Rubinho in Formula 1 cannot be stained by that. If he announces that he is leaving Formula 1 he will see paths open up for him in every other category," Brazilian sports commentator Reginaldo Leme said in the news web site G1.

Barrichello got similar advice from fellow Brazilian Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa, who recommended retirement in November.

"I told him: 'Retire, make the most of your last race'," Massa said before the Brazilian Grand Prix, the last race of the 2011 season.

Massa stressed that he greatly admires Barrichello.

"When I told him that it didn't mean, 'you're old, stop racing'. I just thought about what's happening in Formula 1. Nowadays we have 12 teams, and five or six ask drivers for money. This, in my view, is absurd. I don't want to see Rubinho, with the great career he has made, with everything he has won, looking for sponsors to race."


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