Could Rubens Barrichello's close friendship with Tony Kanaan lead to the F1 veteran having a crack at IndyCar racing?

It is all but confirmed that ousted Formula 1 driver Rubens Barrichello will get behind the wheel of a DW12 IndyCar for two days next week at a test session at Sebring, but it’s not yet known if this is a precursor to a tilt at the North American open-wheel championship.

The 39-year-old Brazilian will get behind the wheel of one of KV Racing Technology’s Chevrolet-powered cars at the Florida circuit; Barrichello’s close friend Tony Kanaan drives for the team and it’s highly likely that he is an influencing factor in this test session.

Comment could not be obtained from KV co-owner Jimmy Vasser, team manager Mark Johnson or Kanaan – even Barrichello’s usually-active Twitter feed was quiet on the matter – but sources close to the team have suggested that the test outing is locked in.

Kanaan let the cat out of the bag by tweeting a picture of his IndyCar challenger to Barrichello, quoting: “It’s ready for you my friend. Come on in!”

Barrichello missed out on the chance to compete in an astounding twentieth consecutive Formula 1 season after Williams elected to drop him from its line-up in favour of his compatriot Bruno Senna.

Interestingly, it had looked like a tilt at IndyCar racing was off Barrichello’s radar, according to previous comments attributed to the Sao Paulo-born veteran.

“For sure I will not race on the American ovals,” he said last week. “I have promised that to my wife, and I will honour it.”

But that doesn’t rule out the prospect of him running a part-time campaign in the 2012 IndyCar season, with all but four of this year’s fifteen scheduled races to be held on road and street circuits.

Last year, former F1 driver Sébastien Bourdais ran a road- and street-course campaign with Dale Coyne Racing, and he’s since signed on with Dragon Racing full-time for the 2012 season.

Certainly, the presence of Barrichello would be a massive fillip for the IndyCars Series that would generate significant media and fan interest, even if this two-day outing is little more than a fun exercise.

But perhaps the outing is more serious – let’s not forget that KV Racing is still to confirm the identity of its third driver to partner Kanaan and EJ Viso…

[Image via Sutton Images]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.