Formula 1′s most experienced driver in history, Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, is tipping countryman Felipe Massa to fight for the championship with Williams this season.
Rubens, who completed his final season with the same Grove-based team in 2011, believes Massa is a driver reborn following his exit from Ferrari and his switch to Williams comes at a time when the team also appear to have been rejuvenated thanks to the all new 2014 rules.
“Felipe has a good chance at Williams,” the now F1 pundit for Brazil TV told Globo.
“I hope he can go very well, win races and fight for the title, just as I did that year (2009),” Barrichello added comparing Massa’s new-found motivation to that he had when Honda became Brawn GP and his then team-mate Jenson Button went on to win the championship.
As part of his new media role, Rubens says he has following the three preseason tests closely and is hopeful the kind of pace shown by the FW36 can be replicated in Australia.
“The team to beat at the moment is Mercedes, but Williams is there,” he predicted.
While Barrichello is enjoying his F1 retirement working in the media and continuing to follow the F1 circus, the recently departed Mark Webber is also back in the paddock in his home State of Victoria for the Australian GP.
Working for host broadcaster Ten, Webber insists however you will not be seeing him at too many races following his decision to leave Red Bull for Porsche’s Le Mans programme.
“I didn’t stop (F1) to hang out at race tracks all the time,” the 37-year-old told Fairfax Media.
Arriving in Melbourne ahead of his media duties this weekend he added: ”It’s something I won’t be doing a huge amount of, that’s for sure.”
Indeed it is believed Webber won’t even stay for the race on Sunday.
“I don’t want to be a spare part,” he said. “I did my thing, mate, now I have other things to do.”
On a more Red Bull-orientated note, Chief Designer Adrian Newey has admitted Webber picked the perfect time to leave the sport as bigger drivers like Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo have had to lose a good number of kilos ahead of the new V6 era.
“With Sebastian (Vettel) and Daniel (Ricciardo) we will reach the (weight) limit by the skin of our teeth,” Newey told the April edition of the Red Bulletin magazine.
“Mark Webber would really be at a disadvantage this season.”
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