Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Rubens Barrichello Rumors

There was a lot of great news in IndyCar today, most of it surrounding the official announcement of Justin Wilson to Dale Coyne Racing, where he will be reunited with engineer Bill Pappas, the man he teamed up with to pick up his lone series win at Watkins Glen in 2009. And since good things come in threes DCR also announced that Honda will be the team's engine supplier in 2012.

With another seat still possibly open on that team, are they done? Or is there more big news to come? Paul Tracy has had a couple of things to say on Twitter today. Hmmmm...

But in a bit of "totally random and least expected" news, word got out that Formula 1 veteran Rubens Barrichello will be testing an Indy car for KV Racing at Sebring next week. While it was supposed to be a low key, private test, fellow countryman Tony Kanaan blew the lid off that one on Twitter, and the news was confirmed by many sources, most notably AP writer Jenna Fryer.

Because Barrichello does not have an F1 ride next year, IndyCar Nation is blowing up with speculation as to what it might mean. The easiest one is that Barrichello and Kanaan are friends and he is going to do a little test hopping in the new car to help shake it down. Which given the developmental process he probably went through on more than a few occasions in F1 makes it a logical guess.

But that one is boring. I prefer the one that has Rubens making the jump to IndyCar and driving at least a partial schedule for KV. He still seems to have the itch to drive and with seemingly no options in F1, it would be an option for him to move to the series in some way, shape or form this season.
If that were the case, it would be an incredible get for KV Racing, not to mention the series as a whole. Even at age 39 and coming off of two sub-par seasons in F1, the man can drive and given time to get comfortable in a car would become an immediate threat to win on a road or street course.

In 19 Formula 1 seasons, he won 11 times and posted 68 podium finishes in a record 326 starts. As recently as 2009 he won two Grands Prix and finished third in the standings, so this isn't someone on the downside of his career.

Obviously there would be some hurdles to cross. It would be a big change for him, especially given I'm going to guess he has never even seen the inside of an oval track, let alone driven one. At the same time, he's also gone on record as saying his wife won't let him drive Indy cars, so perhaps if he did join the series he wouldn't race the ovals.

But in the end, it would just be a really cool thing. I loved it back in the day when drivers would venture over from F1 and compete here. Of course, the two biggest names that come to mind are Emerson Fittipaldi and Nigel Mansell, but several other drivers made the trip over and represented themselves well.

Not to mention, perhaps his participation will spur more interest in the series and even give it a little more credibility. You never know, but if it gets people talking about IndyCar, can that be a bad thing?

Even if all that comes from this is a couple of days of testing and kicks and giggles between two old friends, it's still fun to talk about. And if it works out it would be another great storyline for the season this year, which all of the sudden is setting up to potentially become very interesting.

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