Rubens Barrichello says he is in the best physical condition of his career as he prepares for his 19th season in Formula 1 next year. Although the Brazilian is the most experienced driver in the history of F1, he insists that it is not just his enthusiasm that is in top shape.
"I think I have become better all the time, and I wish I was like this when driving for Ferrari," Barrichello said after collecting a Gregor Grant Trophy for career achievement at the AUTOSPORT Awards. "There was a time during my career when I felt they treated Michael in a certain way. But I should have smiled more to that and I would have been better, but those times made me better and it is just such a lovely time now.
"This year has been my best physical year in terms of feeling my body and driving the car to the limits. I've enjoyed it fully. Next year there is KERS and people at my team are asking me to lose weight – and I am fully ready for it. I'm giving my all and that is how it should be.
"At home, I used to go out to do an hour's running, and I would get back home and my kids would call and say, 'Let's play' and I would say I'm tired. But now I am doing the running, doing the playing and hoping that I lose the weight."
Barrichello believes the key to his long career in F1 has been his positive attitude toward life, and the way he focuses only on the present.
"When I have a chance I give a little word to the young guys," he said. "The boys from the future, the ones who are coming now, are actually better than we were. They are better than the Rubens Barrichellos from 1993, because they are better prepared and they have simulators and things like this. But they are also coming having driven go-karts and already thinking about F1.
"You have to think one day at a time. You have to be yourself and you have to enjoy your childhood and everything. You have to dream, but dreaming is a different thing from actually living in F1, and I have actually lived one day at a time – and I think that is the secret. I have enjoyed my life so much and being on stage here [at the AUTOSPORT Awards], I was so thrilled.
"It is just like being a karter yesterday. If people really don't believe that I can be a champion next year, then fine, but I believe it and you have to go for it – smile through the problems and go for it."
Barrichello is spending all day Monday at the Williams factory in Grove, England, for an update on progress for the 2011 car.
"I'm very hopeful for next season," said the Brazilian. "It is the second year with Cosworth. We had some problems with packaging last year to this year, so we will be better.
"The car is looking better; I will be at the factory to check everything out, and to be in meetings. I am starting at 8 a.m. and finishing at 9 p.m., so I have a good 13 hours of talking."