SAO PAULO, October 15 – Home town hope Rubens Barrichello is convinced he still has a chance of overhauling his Brawn GP team-mate Jenson Button to win this year's drivers' world championship.The 37-year-old Brazilian, who is 14 points behind the 29-year-old Briton with two races remaining, will go into the Brazilian Grand Prix this weekend fuelled as much by local passion as high-speed fuel in a fast car.
"I have to win and then worry about everybody else afterwards," he said. "That includes Jenson, of course. For me, I’m just there to do my best and believe it is possible and that is what I aim to do."
Barrichello, a native of Sao Paulo, is bidding to crown his long and exceptional career with the ultimate honour of the title before he decides his future – having opened talks with rivals Williams as well as his current Brawn outfit.
He said: "I read about everything that’s been said and, for me, this is a very special moment in Formula One. I feel so honoured that there are teams trying to sign me – that there are teams I’m talking to and that my situation is a lot better than for some time.
"I’m at a very privileged stage of my career in being able to choose the car in which I’ll compete and next season I really want to be in a competitive car."
For Brawn GP, on the threshold of winning the constructors’ championship in their first season following a buyout of the former Honda outfit, a delicate but thrilling weekend lies in prospect.
Not only Barrichello, but also champion-elect Button is in talks with the team about his future – a situation that leaves team chief Ross Brawn needing to stay calm and juggle a number of political and sporting issues as he attempts to guide them over the line to glory.
Brawn need only one more point to make sure of the teams’ title – they lead Red Bull by 156 to 120.5 – but are also almost certain to decide the destiny of the drivers’ crown, with Button on 85 points and Barrichello on 70.
And German Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull cannot be discounted from the title race as he has 69 points and could take advantage of any major slip-ups by the Brawn drivers. Vettel, 22, won the last race in Japan to press home his challenge.
"I am not giving up. It is not over until it is over," said Vettel, who said he relishes the anti-clockwise direction Interlagos track.
"I am only thinking of racing to win and to keep doing that. Even with two races to go anything can happen."
Vettel’s return to form at Suzuka and his consummate lights-to-flag win rubbed home the fact that Red Bull are back on form, and Brawn have struggled to maintain their early-season domination.
But both Brawn men are confident they can rise to the challenge again in Brazil where the heat and the circuit are likely to suit their car better than conditions have at other circuits in recent races.
"I love Brazil," said Button. "It is a passionate and exciting place to go to for a race and it is a track that poses real challenges to the drivers. I am hoping we can get the best out of the car and score some more good points."
A podium finish for Button would make him champion in succession to fellow Englishman Lewis Hamilton of McLaren, but he could be crowned if Vettel fails to beat him by a clear seven points and Barrichello misses out on the top four.
Last year the drivers’ championship was settled on the last corner of the season’s final race, when Hamilton managed to regain position and claim a point that deprived Ferrari’s Felipe Massa of an emotional title on home soil in Brazil.
This time the injured Massa – recovering well from head injuries suffered after a crash in Hungary in August – will be waving the flag at the finish, as his friend Barrichello bids to keep his own title dream alive.