Barrichello Samples IndyCar Series
January 30, 2012 | 5:18 P.M. EST
What began as a pick-me-up message from Tony Kanaan two weeks ago has developed into serious consideration by Brazilian Formula One veteran Rubens Barrichello to join the IZOD IndyCar Series for the 2012 season.
"We'll see," said Barrichello, who drove a second car prepared by KV Racing Technology. "I don't have anything else (competitive driving), so we'll see."
Kanaan, who sent the note to his good friend after Barrichello was replaced by Bruno Senna at Williams F1, welcomed Barrichello with a dinner attended by Helio Castroneves, Will Power and Oriol Servia ("he noticed the atmosphere; how we all get along") on Jan. 29. Kanaan was happy to have Barrichello accept the invitation to join him at Sebring.
"Over the winter we talked about it, but it became serious when I was testing (at Sebring) and they announced that he wouldn't be with Williams, and I tweeted a picture of my car saying 'It's ready for you,'" said Kanaan, who is godfather to one of Barrichello's sons and vice versa with his son, Leonardo. "Then I called him up and said, 'Hey, you want to come test at the end of the month?' And he said yes, so I called Jimmy (Vasser).
"It's great to have a guy I can call a brother with us. (His future) is in his hands. Right now, it's just an invitation for him to help us out as far as his feedback. Nineteen years in Formula One, the guy has so much knowledge we need to take advantage of . What goes beyond that, it's up to him.
"Knowing Rubens, his timeline will be pretty short. By the time he gets out of the car (Jan. 31), he'll have a pretty good idea what he wants to do. Right now, we don't have anyone signed for the other two cars. You can tell by his face he's having a lot of fun."
Barrichello, who has recorded 11 wins, 68 podiums and 14 pole positions in F1, is not ready to hang up the helmet. He was joined at the facility by his family, who were greeted by INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard.
"If Rubens joins the IZOD IndyCar Series, it continues to strengthen the caliber of drivers that we're attracting," Bernard said. "His record alone is the type of excitement that we want to build within the series and give our fanbase. When you look at the history of Indy car and the greats such as Nigel Mansell and Emerson Fittipaldi, it only helps the stature of Indy car. If there is a transition, I want him to know that we're here to help him."
Servia (in the Lotus development car), Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe (Andretti Autosport), JR Hildebrand (National Guard Panther Racing), and the Team Penske trio of Ryan Briscoe, Castroneves and Power also were on the track Jan. 30 preparing for the 2012 season, which kicks off March 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg.
Justin Wilson (Dale Coyne Racing), who co-drove the winning entry in the 50th anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 29, Mike Conway (A.J. Foyt Racing), Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing), Graham Rahal (Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing) and Charlie Kimball (Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing) join them Jan. 31.