"I am thrilled, it is something very new to me,” said Rubens Barrichello on Thursday at the press conference in his home town of Sao Paulo, in which he confirmed that he had signed with KV Racing Technology for a full season driving in the IZOD IndyCar Series alongside close friend Tony Kanaan.
"We are very excited to have both Rubens and Tony competing for our team in 2012," said team co-owner Jimmy Vasser. "Rubens is going to be a great addition."
A little over a month ago, the idea of F1 driver Rubens Barrichello in the cockpit of an IndyCar seemed like a nice close-season distraction. Everyone knew that it wouldn't come to anything. Yet from the very start, it was clear that Barrichello and IndyCar had fallen for each other in the biggest way possible. KV Racing Technology had to prise Barrichello out of the car just to let Tony Kanaan have a go.
“I was at Sebring when Rubens first got into an Indy car," said team co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven. "The smile when he got out of the car was a great moment and lasted for three days."
Fans, media and even other IndyCar Series drivers were clearly equally besotted with the possibility that one of the most popular and long-serving F1 drivers might be heading their way in 2012; and the confirmation that Barrichello would be team mates with Kanaan and EJ Viso in 2012 came at last in an official press conference on Thursday afternoon.
"The addition of Rubens and the return of Tony along with EJ, gives KVRT a very strong driver line-up and one I am sure can compete for podium finishes and race wins," said Vasser. "I would also like to thank all the sponsors for making this deal possible and KVRT General Manager Mark Johnson for his tireless work getting all the parties together."
Johnson revealed that "Kevin, Jimmy, myself and Rubens (with extensive encouragement from Tony) shook hands and said lets make this happen after the initial Sebring test," adding: "Every individual involved has given 150% effort over the last two weeks to insure we were able to push the deal over the finish line."
Today's press conference also revealed that Tony Kanaan would be back with KV Racing for two more years, having signed with the team initially at the start of 2011.
"I am very excited to be returning to KV Racing Technology not only with a two year deal but also to have Rubens Barrichello as my team mate,” said Kanaan himself. "We have always dreamed about racing together but never imagined it would actually happen and certainly not in the near future or in IndyCars."