Just after backing his friend and countryman to bounce back, Rubens Barrichello has refused to rule out returning to Formula One to replace the struggling Felipe Massa.
After 19 consecutive seasons in F1, 39-year-old Barrichello had to switch to the Indycar series for 2012 after losing his race seat at Williams. Speaking to Brazilian television Sportv this week, however, the Brazilian said he cannot rule out returning to the grid – even with Ferrari.
After a six-year tenure, Barrichello left Ferrari at the end of 2005 and – until now – has not looked back overly fondly on his treatment alongside the famous Italian team’s former number one Michael Schumacher. But in the wake of Massa’s recent performance struggles, Barrichello was voted in an Italian poll as the ideal replacement for the diminutive 30-year-old.
When asked about Ferrari, Barrichello said this week: “I want the fans to understand that I don’t have any hard feelings. If they called me today to go drive for them I would go. It was the best team I’ve ever driven for in terms of support, of creativity. But there were definitely some spicy episodes.”
With the backing of sponsors, Barrichello has signed on with the KV team in Indycar for 2012, but he insists he is “completely open” about returning to F1.
“It would be something to think about,” he said in the televised interview on Wednesday. “I think anything can happen. I’m not saying it will happen, but I have to be ready.”
Barrichello, the longest-serving driver in F1 history, revealed that he still enjoys the backing of Bernie Ecclestone, the sport’s influential chief executive.
“He asked me if I was really going to race in Indycar and I told him ‘Yeah, because you didn’t find me a place in F1’,” he joked.
“He said he will see what he can do about it. Really, you just have to see what happens, you have to stay open about it,” added Barrichello.