Tony Kanaan – who helped bring about Rubens Barrichello's test with KV Racing by sending him a note after hearing that his fellow Brazilian had been replaced by Bruno Senna at Williams F1 – made clear his hope that F1's most experienced driver ever would soon be an IndyCar driver after his first test run on Monday.
Kanaan welcomed Barrichello with a dinner Sunday night that was also attended by Helio Castroneves, Will Power and Oriol Servia ("He noticed the atmosphere; how we all get along," Kanaan said) and the KV Racing regular said he was happy to have Barrichello accept the invitation to join him at Sebring.
"Over the winter we talked about it, but it became serious when I was testing (at Sebring) and they announced that he wouldn't be with Williams, and I tweeted a picture of my car saying, 'It's ready for you,'" said Kanaan, who is godfather to one of Barrichello's sons and vice versa with his son, Leonardo. "Then I called him up and said, 'Hey, you want to come test at the end of the month?' And he said yes, so I called Jimmy [Vasser, KV Racing co-owner, with Barrichello, ABOVE].
"It's great to have a guy I can call a brother with us. It's in his hands. Right now, it's just an invitation for him to help us out as far as his feedback. Nineteen years in Formula 1, the guy has so much knowledge we need to take advantage of. What goes beyond that, it's up to him.
"Knowing Rubens, his timeline will be pretty short," Kanaan added. "By the time he gets out of the car [on Tuesday], he'll have a pretty good idea what he wants to do. Right now, we don't have anyone signed for the other two cars. You can tell by his face he's having a lot of fun."
Barrichello, who has recorded 11 wins 14 pole positions in F1 while making a record 322 starts, has made clear that he intends to continue his racing career whether or not he lands another F1 ride. IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard, who was also on hand for the Sebring tests, was enthusiastic about the prospect of landing a new talent like Barrichello, and offered whatever help series officials could offer.
"If Rubens joins the IZOD IndyCar Series, it continues to strengthen the caliber of drivers that we're attracting," Bernard said. "His record alone is the type of excitement that we want to build within the series and give our fan base. When you look at the history of IndyCar and the greats such as Nigel Mansell and Emerson Fittipaldi, it only helps the stature of IndyCar racing. If there is a transition, I want him to know that we're here to help him."