After Rubens Barrichello was ousted from the Williams F1 team by fellow Brazilian Bruno Senna at the end of the 2011 season, it seemed that his 19-year career in the world championship was over, after 323 starts since his début in 1993.
But Barrichello himself clearly feels he was sent packing from F1 before his time, and has made no secret of his desire to return to Grand Prix despite competing in a full series of the US IndyCar Series in 2012.
He has been a prominent high-profile guest in the paddock at both last week's United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas, and at this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos at Sao Paulo, Brazil - close to where he grew up, worshipping Aryton Senna's racing achievements.
"This time I'll be doing something that I haven't done in 20 years, which is to watch a race here from outside of the track," he said.
But Brazil's tazio.com.br
website reported on Saturday that Barrichello's presence might not be just for show, and that behind the scenes he's rumoured to be in talks with Caterham about a possible race seat in 2013. The website's sources stated that Barrichello was the preferred option of the new Caterham boss, Cyril Abiteboul.
The website's report did not cite any sources or publish any direct quotes to support the assertion.
As recently as Friday, Barrichello insisted that he wasn't at this weekend's race seeking a new seat in F1: "I came here to enjoy [the race], not to speak of the future," he told the press, adding that he still felt very much a part of the F1 world. "But otherwise, I'm happy."
After Charles Pic was confirmed as one of Caterham's drivers for next season, other names linked with the sole remaining seat include Barrichello's compatriots Luiz Razia and Bruno Senna. Current incumbent Heikki Kovalainen has already said that his own chances of remaining with the team appear bleak, as he is not in a position to bring a large amount of sponsorship money to the team.
Heading into the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend, it was Razia who appeared the most confident of getting the call. "If I had to bet, I'd say I'll be on the grid in 2013," said the 2012 GP2 runner-up, who is also in the running for a seat at Force India.
As for Barrichello, his eagerness to be back in F1 was underlined when he told the media that he had been been hoping for a downpour in Sao Paulo if that meant the F1 teams needed a helping hand from someone who knew the circuit intimately.
"If it rains and someone wants me to go out and test the car, I'll be more than happy to do it," he said on Friday.