Rubens Barrichello will struggle to adapt to life after F1, according to 1996 world champion Damon Hill.
Throughout most of Hill’s entire career, he shared the grand prix circuits with Barrichello, who has gone on to set the outright record for the number of races contested. But now 39, the veteran Brazilian has lost his Williams race seat and this year will therefore almost certainly be missing from the grid for the first time since 1992.
According to Hill, who retired at the end of 1999, Barrichello could struggle to adapt.
“It’s a really difficult thing for drivers to give up,” he is quoted by The Sun. “The shame is there is nowhere to go next for a driver. Nothing is the same as F1.”
The only other vacant race seat on the 2012 grid at present is at HRT, but the Spanish team is likely to sign a driver with lucrative sponsorship.
When news broke this week that Williams had decided to sign Bruno Senna, Barrichello insisted on Twitter that his future was “wide open”.
“When I said that things were open,” he now adds, “it’s because I still have lots of speed in me. Just like an old friend said, racing is in my blood.”
He has, however – at the behest of his wife – ruled out joining his friend Tony Kanaan in the Indycar series.
Writing in the Telegraph, correspondent Tom Cary thinks Williams would be wise to sign Barrichello for a development role.
“There was certainly a case to be made for using his experience at a time of massive change for the Williams team, with a new technical team and leadership,” he said. “Maybe that will still happen if they can persuade Barrichello to take on some sort of development role.”
Agreed Cary’s colleague Livio Oricchio – who spoke to Barrichello this week – in O Estado de S.Paulo: “It is possible Rubens will remain connected somehow to F1.
“Teams can’t test privately any more, so someone with experience of 325 grands prix could be useful in many ways to a team developing a car.
“He would also be physically prepared to replace a driver who does not match up either to expectations, the financial commitments of his sponsors, or who needs some time to recover from an accident,” added Oricchio.