The Brazilian driver – a longtime teammate of Michael Schumacher in the Ferrari glory days – has been on the Formula One grid since his fallen countryman Ayrton Senna was still with us, but in the end, he was replaced at Williams by Ayrton's nephew Bruno, effectively ending his F1 career. But while his grand prix racing days may be behind him, Rubinho still has too much talent to simply vanish into retirement.
So where is he going? To IndyCar, following a similar path taken by former masters like Mansell, Fittipaldi and Andretti, but also by contemporary pilots Takuma Sato, Sebastien Bourdais and Jean Alesi. We've been anticipating the move since January when Barrichello was lining up for a test drive with KV Racing, and now the two racing stalwarts have reportedly sealed the deal.
While Rubens had previously considered racing just the road course and street circuit races on the Indy calendar in deference to his wife's reported concerns over oval-track safety, he will, in the end, contest all sixteen races this year, including the Indianapolis 500 and the four other speedways on what was once a calendar dominated by oval racing.
The signing of a multiple grand prix winner like Barrichello stands as a coup for American open-wheel racing, which has been clawing its way back into relevance after the rift between CART and Indy was repaired, attracting more automakers to supply engines for a new Dallara chassis. Rubens will be partnered at KV Racing – the team owned by former Champ Car chief Kevin Kalkhoven and former Indy champion Jimmy Vasser – by longtime friend and race winner Tony Kanaan (with whom he is pictured above at the press conference) and Venezuelan driver EJ Viso. Follow the jump for the official announcement.
SĀO PAULO, BRAZIL -- KV Racing Technology announced today that Formula One legend Rubens Barrichello and IZOD IndyCar superstar Tony Kanaan, who often refer to themselves as "brothers", will both contest the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season for the team.
Barrichello will pilot the No. 8 BMC | Embrase – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone machine. Kanaan will drive the #11 GEICO | MOUSER ELECTRONICS – KV Racing Technology car for 10 races, the MOUSER ELECTRONICS | GEICO KV Racing Chevrolet/Firestone entry at four and the ITAIPAVA – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone machine at Brazil. GEICO and MOUSER ELECTRONICS will be co-primary sponsors at the Indy 500. Barrichello and Kanaan join E. J. Viso, #5 CITGO | PDVSA – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone, in a three-car effort
for the team in 2012.
"I was at Sebring when Rubens first got into an Indy car. The smile when he got out of the car was a great moment and lasted for three days. Rubens ended up the fastest at the end of the test, showing the speed he is capable of and his experience setting up a car. Teamed with his "brother" Tony Kanaan this is going to be an exciting and successful season for the drivers, the team and the fans," said KVRT co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven. "
Jimmy Vasser, the V in KVRT said. "We are very excited to have both Rubens (Barrichello) and Tony (Kanaan) competing for our team in 2012. Rubens is going to be a great addition and last year Tony, once again demonstrated his leadership abilities and his proven ability to compete for wins and the championship. The addition of Rubens and the return of Tony along with E.J. (Viso), gives KVRT a very strong driver line-up and one I am sure can compete for podium finishes and race wins. I would also like to thank all the sponsors for making this deal possible and KVRT General Manager Mark Johnson for his tireless work getting all the parties together."
Barrichello, whose Formula One career spanned 19-years (1993 – 2011), is the most experienced driver in Formula One history with 322 starts out of 326 races entered. The 39-year-old native of Brazil was the runner-up in the Formula One championship in 2002 and 2004. He has earned 11 victories, 14 pole podiums, 68 podiums performances, 106 top-five finishes and172 top-10 showings. Barrichello, despite his vast racing experience, will now become a rookie in the IZOD IndyCar Series, entering his first season in U.S. based open-wheel competition and starting a new chapter in his career.
"I am thrilled, it is something very new to me," Barrichello said. "I need to thank everyone involved, especially Tony because he has been involved for a long time. I would also like to thank my sponsors, BMC, Embrase and Locaweb for their help. This is a new experience, but I am very very happy. With all my experience I will start as a rookie, but I think I will get better as the year progresses. My main thing is to be an addition to KV Racing Technology. They have been doing very well and Tony brought the team to a different level last year, so I hope with my contribution we can build on this and take the team to another level. I am extremely happy and have a big smile on my face."
Kanaan, the 2004 IZOD IndyCar Series Champion, will contest his 15th U. S. based open-wheel season, 11th in the IndyCar Series (ran one race, the Indy 500 in 2002) and second with KVRT. One of the most consistent and fearless drivers in the Series, Kanaan is a perennial title threat. The 37-year-old Brazilian, who finished fifth in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship in 2011, has placed in the top-six in the championship every year he has run the full IndyCar season, a total of nine consecutive seasons. Kanaan, who holds the IndyCar Series record for consecutive starts at 148, has made a total of 149 IndyCar starts (242 career) earning 14 victories (15 career), 52 podiums (58 career), 85 top-five top-five finishes (101 career) and 111 top-10 showings (160 career) with 11 poles (15 career).
"I am very excited to be returning to KV Racing Technology not only with a two year deal but also to have Rubens Barrichello as my team mate," Kanaan said. "We have always dreamed about racing together but never imagined it would actually happen and certainly not in the near future or in IndyCars. So I am looking forward to the start of the season, I think its going to be a very exciting year."
General Manager Mark Johnson commenting on the addition of Barrichello and Kanaan to the KVRT stable said, "Speaking for the entire KV Racing Technology organization this is truly an exciting time for all of us. The saying 'Good Things Come to Those That Wait' could not be truer. With Rubens addition to the team being just slightly more timely than Tony's situation last year we are ecstatic we could get the deal put together for all of us. Just as it happened last year Kevin, Jimmy, myself and Rubens (with extensive encouragement from Tony) shook hands and said lets make this happen after the initial Sebring test. Every individual involved has given 150% effort over the last two weeks to insure we were able to push the deal over the finish line. I believe as a team we are very well positioned entering the 2012 IndyCar season."
The 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season begins March 23-25 with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida.
About KV Racing Technology:
KV Racing Technology was founded in January 2003 and joined the IndyCar Series in 2008. The Indianapolis based team is owned by successful venture capitalist Kevin Kalkhoven and 1996 CART IndyCar World Series Champion Jimmy Vasser. Veteran Motorsports manager, Mark Johnson is the team's General Manager. Johnson is assisted by Team Manager Tom Wurtz, Technical Director Eric Cowdin and Operations Manager Steve Moore.
For more information about KV Racing Technology visit: www.kvracingtechnology.com or follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kvracing and Facebook: www.facebook.com/kvracingtechnology