It may have been mischief-making, but Rubens Barrichello has declared that he is up for a return to the top flight of international motorsport after a break of two years.
The Brazilian, who's F1 career ended in 2011 after 18 years and 322 starts, was this week mentioned in connection with a possible Sauber seat [ see separate story
], and did little to quell speculation by tweeting his interest in a return to the category that gave him eleven race wins.
Even as Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn was playing down suggestions that she had been in touch with Barrichello, the 41-year old Brazilian was tweeting that the F1 flame still burned within him.
“Lots of things have being said this week about a possible F1 return,” he wrote, “The truth is 'if there is an opportunity, I 'm in'."
After a short-lived flirtation with IndyCars was scuppered by a lack of sponsorship, Barrichello has been back in the F1 paddock this season courtesy of a role with Brazilian television, and Kaltenborn could not deny that the veteran had the sort of background that would make him an ideal team-mate to 18-year old Sergey Sirotkin should the Russian, as expected, be fast-tracked into the race team to keep its new financial partners happy.
“There are a couple of options out there and we know what he [Rubens] has – his experience," Kaltenborn stated in the build-up to the Korean race weekend, “We [also] know that he would like to come back so, let's wait and see.”
Nico Hulkenberg looks almost certain to move on from Sauber after a single season, while Esteban Gutierrez, while improving throughout 2013, could find that he is dropped in favour of having a more experienced hand alongside Sirotkin.