IndyCar “rookie” driver Rubens Barrichello has been talking to other teams about a change in 2013. Signed to a one-year contract with KV Racing Technology, Barrichello says he’s eager to return to the series next year, but not necessarily with the same team. The 40-year-old Brazilian is frustrated with his lack of results at KV, where his best finish so far this season was 7th. “I don’t like being 15th,” the driver told Autosport.
At the beginning of the season, the IndyCar newcomer blamed lackluster results on unfamiliarity with the style of driving, rolling starts and restarts, yellow flag conditions and the tracks, which was exacerbated by Chief Steward Beaux Barfield’s initial ruling that the 19-year Formula One veteran was no rookie and therefore not entitled to the additional track time allotted rookie drivers. That ruling was later amended to allow Barrichello extra track time, while denying him the opportunity to compete for Rookie of the Year honors.
As the season has progressed, Barrichello’s list of excuses has expanded to include team strategy. Often out-qualifying his teammates (Tony Kanaan and E.J. Viso), he rarely finishes a race ahead of them, earning only five top-10 finishes so far. “I’m getting better in comparison with my teammates,” he told Autosport, “but my car is still not. And the strategy side still hasn’t clicked.”
KV’s engineering department has admittedly struggled through personnel changes. Despite the departures of Michael Cannon, John Dick and Bill Pappas, and the addition of Eric Cowdin at the request of Tony Kanaan, little has changed in terms of approach … or results. The team continues to struggle to get a handle on the DW12 as frustration mounts internally.
But while the engineering department, lost in setup, must shoulder its share of the blame, there are always two sides to the story. Barrichello has not demonstrated the determination of teammate and friend Kanaan, whose ability to carry a car has resulted in seven top-10 finishes – half of which were top-5. Barrichello’s lack of confidence and aggression translate into missed opportunities to overtake. His own inability to adapt to rolling restarts has resulted in reshuffling him back in the pack.
Warmly welcomed by IndyCar fans, Barrichello has largely been written off by media as a disappointment. The affable Brazilian continues to state that he’s enjoying driving in IndyCar, but complains that he hasn’t been given the opportunity to demonstrate his capabilities. Whether he can regain respect with an impressive sophomore season – at KV or elsewhere – remains to be seen.