Chasing Rubens Barrichello (at Infineon for IndyCar Testing) [w/video]

Rubens Barrichello had the longest career in Formula One history.  Over 18 years, he won eleven races, clinched 68 podium finishes, and had 14 pole positions and 17 fastest laps.  He was in a dog of a car last season (a Williams), and couldn’t come up with the trunk-full-of-sponsorship-cash needed to race in F1 again in 2012.

Now, Rubens is trying to get a seat in IndyCar.  Unfortunately, he still needs to come up with a smaller-trunk-full-of-sponsorship-cash.  He was at Infineon last weekend to test drive along with a handful of IndyCar teams and drivers.  As a big F1 fan, I had to check it out.

After loitering in the parking lot and checking out the spectators’ rides visually, I fulfilled my needs aurally.

Rubens drove his friend Tony Kanaan’s KV Racing #11.


 At Tony Kanaan’s talk, he admitted that Rubens needs to bring in five to six million dollars.  A decision should be made by the end of this week.  There was a bit of tech talk, especially about the turbocharged V6s that are going to be used this season.  Apparently, at every track, the series organizers will set a different target boost pressure for the teams to set.
And there he was, the star, being a good sport and signing autographs, between practice sessions.
Here’s a front wing, up close and personal.  It definitely looks hand crafted.
Here are the highlights of Rubens’s interview:
  • His last experience at Infineon was playing a NASCAR video game ten years ago.
  • The biggest surprise was how steep Turn 1 is.
  • The ups and downs of the track remind him of Donnington Park and Spa.
  • It’s easy to figure out where to brake, but difficult to know where to turn.
  • F1 versus IndyCar: IndyCar is heavier; though the two cars have similar horsepower, the turbocharged engine has a different power curve; the steering is heavier since there is no power steering.
  • For safety reasons, his wife is not excited about him racing in ovals.
  • He constantly hit the rev limiter during the morning testing session.
  • He was very philosophical about the turn of events.  He is thankful for the opportunity and considers all of what’s happening as a re-birth.
  • He has to rope together enough sponsorship deals by the end of this week or it will be too late, as the season starts on March 25. 
The best question was asked by a child at the end.  What’s the best part of racing?  Rubens replied: Winning!

Disclaimer: I am a total newbie to IndyCar, so if you have more insight to share, please do!
Check out the pictures left on the cutting room floor here.
Images and video: Copyright 2012 Hooniverse/Jim Yu

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