Rubens Barrichello will not
be making a surprise return to the F1 fraternity next season, with Sauber at least, after the Swiss team moved to quell speculation that the two parties were in talks.
Team boss Monisha Kaltenborn had praised Barrichello's experience in the build-up to this weekend's Korean Grand Prix but, when the 41-year old Brazilian tweeted that he would be up for any opportunity to return to the fold [ see separate story
], decided to put an end to the rumours.
"I am ruling out that he would drive for us,” Kaltenborn told journalists after qualifying in Yeongam, “Maybe it is better if one is that clear about it.
"I have a lot of respect for Rubens, and I don't think it is right that I just so abruptly say 'no, we are not going to talk'. I fully understand that he wants to drive, and that he is trying his best [to return]. I talk a lot to him when he's here, we discuss young drivers and so on, but we have never discussed a seat.”
Kaltenborn also dismissed speculation that Barrichello could make an emotional one-off appearance in front of his home crowd at the season finale, insisting that the speculation – and the response it has prompted from her – is 'a bit unfair towards him'.
“It doesn't look good for him [for us to be talking about it] so, just to be very clear on it, we have not discussed a seat for next year, and also no drive in Brazil,” she emphasised.
Sauber is expected to field rookie Sergey Sirotkin, the result of a financial tie-up with Russian enterprise, in one of its cars next season, but has yet to confirm the identity of either of its drivers. Nico Hulkenberg is expected to move on after just one year at Hinwil, while current team-mate Esteban Gutierrez remains hopeful of a second season.