Barrichello wins - in a virtual world

London: Rubens Barrichello can boast of being a race-winning championship leader with a contract for next season -- the only pity being that he is not talking about Formula One.

"This weekend I won my first virtual race, which was great. It`s amazing how competitive it is," the 39-year-old Brazilian told reporters at last weekend`s Italian Grand Prix where he finished 12th.

"It`s called STCC 2, which is the Swedish touring cars. I`ve done four races now and I`m leading the championship. That`s quite fun.

"I drive a Volkswagen Scirocco and I am contracted for next year already," he added.

The picture in Formula One is less clear-cut.

Barrichello, who has started more races than any other driver in the history of the sport, intends to continue for a 20th successive season in 2012 at the age of 40 but Williams have yet to confirm his future.

"We are talking day by day. We just need to see. I wish we had done a deal already but it`s taking a little longer. I am just working hard to see if we can seal a deal as soon as possible," he said.

"The team is taking everything into perspective and they know what I can offer."

Barrichello has won 11 grands prix with Ferrari and Brawn but former champions Williams have fallen on hard times and have gleaned just five points in 13 races this season. The Brazilian has scored four of them.

He said however that he had faith in the team to turn things around, with Renault engines coming next year and new staff appointments. Otherwise he would have no interest in continuing.

"To be working for another year like this, in my 20th year, I need something better," he said.

"I feel the team is doing better with the engine change, with the personnel change so I can see a good light at the end of the tunnel.”

"I just want to continue because people want me to and because they know I can win. Other than that I stay home and take care of my kids and winning my internet games."

The virtual world of racing, against rivals such as compatriot and Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, has provided a welcome distraction from the problems on the real racetrack.

"It is so professional. You have to look into the wind, the track conditions, you might go to the grid and you cannot go back to the pit and it`s raining and you are on slick tyres. You have to be so precise," he said of the virtual world.

"It`s really unbelievable and its HD.”

"I am racing all against the guys from Brazil who race in stock cars. Massa is racing as well. There are 65 of us in the championship and then there are the guys who have been doing this for 10 years now. And you can watch live on a website."

"I love the internet. I do poker games and people don`t know me, which is fun. But this one is just so damn professional," added Barrichello, who also has more than 1.1 million followers on social network Twitter.

Bureau Report