Allan Brewer, IndyCar correspondent
Formula 1 veteran Rubens Barrichello put the new IndyCar Dallara DW12 through its paces at Sebring International Raceway on Monday, posting lap times that were comparable to several seasoned series regulars.
Barrichello racked up 94 laps, equivalent to about 150 miles on the IndyCar test road course at Sebring, and earned praise from potential KV Racing teammate Tony Kanaan for his quick progression along the learning curve.
It's different from what I'm used to, but it had a good feeling.
"Well, there really isn't much to say,” said Kanaan. “The guy comes here for the first time and after 20 laps he's already running the same lap times as me! His knowledge and experience helped confirm some ideas that we had for this test, so it was very productive having Rubens around."
The day-long session was Barrichello’s first at the wheel of an IndyCar, and his first outing at the central Florida raceway approximately 100 miles south of Orlando.
"I had a very very nice day,” Barrichello said afterwards. “In the morning I was getting used to the car. It's different from what I'm used to, but it had a good feeling.”
Barrichello remained mum on his intentions going forward. He remains one of the most visible free agents in automobile racing after being discharged at Williams in lieu of youngster Bruno Senna.
“Whatever happens for the future, which might change, all I said at the beginning was I want Kevin (Kalkhoven), Jimmy (Vasser) and Tony to remember when we were here at Sebring, 'Rubens tried that and it was really good and made us go faster, so let’s try that again for this circuit'.”
“So, I've had a very good and productive day behind the wheel and with all the setup options that I have tried, I think it went well. You could call me a rookie, even though I've had 33 years doing this job, but today I was an IndyCar rookie."
The 2012 IndyCar season commences on March 25th at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Florida). The 2012 Indianapolis 500 will be held on May 27th.
Barrichello and Kanaan have known each other for almost 30 years and refer to each other as brothers.
This was the first time in their careers the two drivers have tested the same type of car on the same day.
Commenting on today’s test KVRT co-owner Jimmy Vasser said, “On behalf of Kevin (KVRT co-owner Kevin Kallkhoven) and everyone here at KV Racing Technology, I can say that we are all very pleased with today’s test. The entire team did an excellent job. This was Ruben’s first time in an IndyCar and I think he enjoyed himself. Certainly, we had a lot of fun working with him. Most importantly, if he is going to have this kind of effect on Tony we are going to have to figure out a way to keep him around.”
Barrichello, 39, is the only driver in Formula One history to make 300 or more starts having contested 322 races over a 19-year career (1993 – 2011). The talented Brazilian, who was runner-up in the Formula One championship in 2002 and 2004, has earned 11 victories, been on the podium 68 times and scored 106 top-five finishes and 171 top-10 showings. Last season, Barrichello competed for Williams – Cosworth.
Kanaan, 37, is entering his 15th U. S. based open-wheel season and 11th in the IZOD IndyCar Series. The 2004 IndyCar Series champion has 14 IndyCar wins (15 career) with 52 podiums (58 career), 85 top-five showings (101 career) and 111 top-10 performances (159 career) in 149 IndyCar starts (242 career). He holds the series record for most consecutive IndyCar starts with 148. Kanaan finished fifth in the championship race last year with 367 points.
KV Racing Technology was founded in January 2003 and joined the IndyCar Series in 2008. The Indianapolis based team is owned by successful venture capitalist Kevin Kalkhoven and 1996 IndyCar Champion Jimmy Vasser. Veteran Motorsports manager, Mark Johnson is the team’s General Manager. Johnson is assisted by Team Manager Tom Wurtz, Technical Director Eric Cowdin and Operations Manager Steve Moore.