Sauber has confirmed that it is entertaining overtures from former F1 driver, Rubens Barrichello, who is reportedly keen on making a comeback to the sport.
The Brazilian veteran – who, with 322 Grands Prix to his credit, is the longest-serving driver in the sport’s history – was sidelined at the end of the 2011 season when Williams opted to take on Bruno Senna in his place.
Since then, the eleven-time Grand Prix winner has contested a single season apiece in the IndyCar Series and the Stock Car Brasil championship, achieving limited success in both categories.
Barrichello has made no secret of his desire to return to Formula 1, and now it seems that Sauber is considering adding his experience to its line-up, with the Swiss team looking set to lose the services of Nico Hülkenberg at the end of the season.
When asked about the veteran driver’s prospects of making a return to F1, Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said: “I always have to give you the same answer on that, we will announce in due course.
“There are a couple of options. We know what [Rubens] has with his experience and we know that he’d like to come back, so let’s see.”
That’s far from a firm denial or admission either way, but with the few remaining competitive race seats for the 2014 season fast filling up, the underperforming Hinwil team will quickly become the focus of the latest ‘silly season’ stories.
Sauber is likely to retain the services of its slowly improving Mexican rookie, Esteban Gutiérrez, next year, while it also has Russian youngster Sergey Sirotkin on its books.
Also rumoured to be in the frame are soon-to-exit Ferrari driver Felipe Massa (who has twice previously driven for the team), along with Adrian Sutil.
The Barrichello-to-Sauber story – no doubt fuelled by Brazil’s media – is certainly one of the more interesting to have done the rounds in recent days, and it would certainly be a surprise to see him back on the F1 grid when many felt that he should have hung up his helmet after his very successful 2009 campaign with the Brawn GP team.
Stranger things have happened…