When Rubens Barrichello's name was first linked with a switch to IndyCar racing after his exit from Williams F1, the biggest problem appeared to be the prospect of racing on ovals. He'd never done it before, and it was widely reported that he'd promised his wife that he would never even consider it.

"What happened was that one day we were watching an oval race, and there was a crash, and she looked at me and said, 'You're never going to do this, are you?'" said Rubens about his wife Silvana's concerns over the issue.

"I said: 'Well, I don't plan to, because I hope that I'll be racing F1 forever, like 25 years, and then I'll probably stop,'" Rubens told reporters after Thursday's announcement that he was moving to the land of the big round ovals after all in 2012.

So how did he get around the tricky issue and get his wife's blessing for his new American adventure with KV Racing Technology?

"My kids helped big time," admitted Barrichello. "I briefed the boys, and then we went to mom, and Eduardo asked her if it was true that she didn't want me to race on oval. And she said, well, I would rather have him racing on just normal circuits. Then we had like a quorum that we said - all three of us at the same time - 'Luckily mom doesn't tell us what to do!' It was kind of funny.

"But she was fine," insisted Barrichello. "She knows I'm so happy. She can see in my eyes how much I'm happy, so she's happy for me."

For his own part, ovals were never so much an obstacle to a switch to IndyCar as they were a big part of the personal appeal to him: "I can't wait to get my car to the ovals and see what it is," he said.

"In the back of my mind, I always wanted to know what is the experience, I mean, what goes through the mind of the driver at such a speed," he admitted. "More and more drivers are going to US instead of going into Europe because they want to do ovals and racing at IndyCar," he pointed out.

He added that he was no stranger to the lure of the Indianapolis 500. "I've been there. '93, my first year in F1, I actually went to see and to watch the Indy 500," he said. "I had the possibility to race F1 in Indianapolis, but it was not even close to what it is for the Indy 500. 60,000 people when we had F1, and 600,000 people when the IndyCars are going around."

But while Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy 500 themselves may be familiar sights to him, actually going racing on the ovals will be a genuinely new experience for Barrichello - and part of the appeal of switching to IndyCar is getting to be a rookie all over again.

"I'm loving the idea that I'm going to be a rookie. That makes me young, and I'm really enjoying that," he smiled. "I'm going to be 40 on Wednesday the 23rd [of May] just before Indianapolis, and I can't be any happier. I think it's a chance that has been given to me after all the years of competitive racing that I had that I still have a lot of speed in myself. I want to do this for so much. I love really to be driving the cars, and I'm happy. I'm truly happy. I'm excited about the season.

"With all my experience [in F1], I have no idea how to set up a car on an oval," he admitted. "I've just been told that my first oval experience is going to be in Texas before I actually go to Indy, and I have all my tests through the rookies."

Barrichello confessed that he'd be leaning on his close friend Tony Kanaan for a whole lot of advice on how to tackle the ovals when the moment came.

"I'm excited, I hope I can learn from Tony big time," he added. "I think he's the king of the ovals, and in a way I can learn a lot from him, and I look forward to that."

Even though the Indianpolis 500 will be his first actual oval race, there will be a lot of eyes on Barrichello if he makes it onto the 33-car starting grid - and a lot of fans back home in Brazil expecting him to be challenging for the win even if it is his first time running around in circles.

"If I can win Indy the first year? I don't think we know. I don't think we know," he told reporters on Thursday. Even when it was pointed out that a rookie (JR Hildebrand) had come within yards of winning the 2011 race, Barrichello was cautious. "You had a rookie, but for sure he's done oval before," he pointed out. "Guys come a little bit more prepared than myself."

"We've got to be realistic about the experience that he's going to have on the ovals," said Tony Kanaan in turn. "But I have to say, I don't expect any less than for Rubens to be right on top of the game right away."

That might not equate to an immediate Indy 500 or oval win in 2012, but as far as Kanaan was concerned great things were possible for Barrichello and for himself and KV Racing Technology in 2012.

"With his experience and his talent and the way that IndyCar Series is competitive, giving equal equipment as far as chassis, and now this year we have different engines, I believe that he has very good chances to be fighting for race wins and championships this year," summed up Kanaan of the fast-approaching new season.


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