Rubens Barrichello is closing in on a deal with Williams for 2010, in a move that could see him swap places with Nico Rosberg.
In the midst of a season where he has resurrected his Formula 1 career, having turned a lifeline from Brawn GP into a full-scale assault on the World Championship, Barrichello is poised to extend his stay in F1 for at least one more year.
Although his performances for Brawn were not enough to guarantee his future at the team, with Rosberg's move to the Brackley, UK-based team an open secret in F1, Williams is apparently eager to tap into Barrichello's vast experience and speed as it continues its push to return to the front of the grid. With Williams expected to sign GP2 champ Nico Hulkenberg, the team has set its sights on an experienced team leader to help guide car development and help bring on a rookie teammate.
Sources have claimed that Barrichello recently visited the Williams factory at Grove to discuss the plans for next year, and it is understood that an outline deal either has already been agreed or is close to being concluded. Speaking in Singapore last weekend, Williams technical director Sam Michael made no secret of the fact that the team's preference was for a driver lineup that featured both experience and youth.
"If you have someone who is very experienced that is great because they have experience on set-up and car direction," he explained. "And if you have someone who is young, then they bring enthusiasm.
"We've had many different drivers in Williams over the years in both camps – experienced guys and rookies, and they have all had their plus and minuses. But the most important thing is that they are fast, this is first and foremost for us."
Barrichello has won two races this year and currently is 15 points behind teammate Jenson Button in the World Championship standings, with three races to go.
Although Barrichello is close to a deal with Williams, it is not impossible that he could be kept by Brawn GP if the team fails to reach agreement with Button about the financial terms of a new contract for 2010. Discussions between the World Championship leader and the team over money for next year have not yet reached a conclusion. It is understood the two parties are still some way apart in their discussions about just how much Button should be paid in light of his strong 2009 campaign, having agreed to a cut-price deal this year to ensure Brawn GP's future in F1.
On the other hand, Barrichello may feel it is better to take a guaranteed seat at Williams in the next few weeks rather than wait until after the season for the chance of something that may not happen.
Williams also held talks with Robert Kubica earlier this year, but the Polish driver is now expected to take up an offer he has from the Renault team.