March 01, 2012 | By Dave Lewandowski - INDYCAR.COM
Barrichello starts new chapter in INDYCAR
The initials F and E, highlighted on the back of Rubens Barrichello’s helmet, represent the given names of his sons, Fernando (6) and Eduardo (10). In Portuguese, FE means faith.
In a sense, who grew up in the neighborhood of the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo, Brazil, is stepping out in faith by entering the IZOD IndyCar Series after being the longest-tenured driver in Formula One history.
KV Racing Technology co-owners Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser announced during a news conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil, that Barrichello will drive the No. 8 BMC | Embrase – KV Racing Technology car this season.
Barrichello, 39, made 322 starts in an F1 career that spanned from 1993-2011 with six teams. He was runner-up in the Formula One championship in 2002 and 2004, and earned 11 victories, 68 podiums, 106 top-five finishes and172 top-10 showings.
Now Barrichello, who initially test drove the next-generation IZOD IndyCar Series car powered by the 2.2-liter, twin turbocharged V-6 Chevrolet engine at Sebring International Raceway in late January at the invitation of countryman (and now teammate) Tony Kanaan, will embark on a new chapter in his racing career.
“This is a new experience, but I am very happy,” Barrichello said. “IndyCar should not be seen as an alternative solution to Formula 1, but as a new challenge. The car has a dignity of its own, races take place on relatively short oval tracks (short ovals and superspeedways) or on street circuits, there are less electronics than Formula One, the races are faster, the surrounding environment is more relaxed, the cars are all very similar, and the number of modifications that the teams are permitted to make are limited, so it’s the driver that makes the difference.
“To be a winner in IndyCar you have to be a complete driver because you will have to compete under a whole range of conditions and in various configurations.
“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."
INDYCAR president of competition Beaux Barfield said Barrichello won't be classified as a full-season rookie, but will be an Indianapolis 500 rookie. He'll participate in the Speedway's Rookie Orientation Program in May under the direction of driver coach Arie Luyendyk and also have to complete an oval test before competing on other racetracks.
Barrichello said being a rookie for the Indianapolis 500 "makes me feel young."
The season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (March 23-25) kicks off four street/road course events before the first oval -- the Indianapolis 500.
KV Racing Technology also formally announced that Kanaan, the 2004 IZOD IndyCar Series champion, has signed a two-year deal. Kanaan, who joined the team days before the 2011 season opener, finished fifth in the series championship standings. He holds the IZOD IndyCar Series record for consecutive starts (148), which is ongoing.
“We are very excited to have both Rubens and Tony competing for our team in 2012,” Vasser said. “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 lineup and one I am sure can compete for podium finishes and race wins. The sky’s the limit for this team.”
Kanaan, 37, and Barrichello are countrymen and longtime friends. It was at Kanaan’s invitation that Barrichello tested the next-generation IZOD IndyCar Series car at Sebring.
"I was at Sebring when Rubens first got into an IndyCar," Kalkhoven said. "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."
Kanaan will contest his 15th U.S.-based open-wheel season (11th in the IZOD IndyCar Series). He has placed in the top-six in the championship every year he has run the full season.
"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 teammate,” 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."
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