Rubens Barrichello will this week formally announce he is leaving the IndyCar Series to accept a ride in the Brazilian stock-car championship next year.
Despite being linked with Sam Schmidt Motorsports and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for the 2013 season – and what could only be described as a far more impressive year than could have been expected in 2012 – Barrichello has opted for the familiar route of a fully-funded ride than what was expected of him to remain in IndyCars for a second season.
The 19-year Formula 1 veteran was also briefly linked to a return to the top-flight with Caterham, although rumours of this never really built into anything to be taken too seriously.
What is traditional practice of assisting in the funding of a team by bringing personal sponsorship was understood to not be a comfortable prospect for the 13-time Grand Prix winner, and with seats at the top teams all but full already (pending whether Team Penske confirms a third entry or not), some sort of sponsorship would have been essential to remain in the series.
Tony Kanaan – Barrichello’s close friend and 2012 team-mate – said that the Brazilian’s options for 2013 were limited, telling Robin Miller of SPEED that “I know his heart is still in IndyCar, but he’s not going to sit and wait. It’s a shame, but it’s the reality of racing right now. It’s really sad. He has to look out for his own interest.”
RichardsF1.com’s exclusive IndyCar driver-by-driver ranking from the 2012 season will be published later this month. Who will be Number 50 and Number 1? Check back regularly to find out.