Apr 27, 2012
SÃO PAULO, Brazil – Rubens Barrichello appears comfortable on stage, answering questions from mainly Brazilian media alongside compatriots Tony Kanaan, Helio Castroneves and Ana Beatriz.
Really, why shouldn’t he comfortable? He’s competing in his hometown for the first time in the IZOD IndyCar Series on a street circuit that will be packed April 29 with spectators chanting his name and waving flags. He’s been in the country for the past 10 days, getting more TV time than President Dilma Rousseff while working off a 30-plus-page document of his appearance schedule. He’s loved (most of) it.
Click it: Entrant list || Weekend schedule || Pit lane assignments
“It is the best week of the year for me and the one that time flies by so fast, so I have to make sure I enjoy every single moment,” he said. “I am so happy that IndyCar races in Brazil and what I have been telling people is that we changed addresses ... the fans that used to come to Interlagos to watch me (in Formula One for almost two decades) now they will come to Anhembi.
“There was such a great energy with me racing here in the past and I want the same thing at the Sambodromo. On the track side I was able to drive on the simulator and learn what is left and what is right. Now we go to the real track and learn from there. I can't wait to get the car out on the track.”
That will come April 28 as practice and qualifications land on the same day. Barrichello is among five drivers in the 26-car field not to have previously competed on the 2.536-mile, 11-turn circuit.
He’s not promising a victory, but "what I can guarantee is that I'll be giving my best this weekend."
No one would expect anything less, and Barrichello has been surprisingly strong with back-to-back top-10 finishes despite learning the new Dallara chassis/Chevrolet engine package and all the racetracks in short order. He’s ninth in the championship standings.
"(Not knowing the street/road courses) has given me the most difficulties so far," said Barrichello, who will be working with a new engineer, Eddie Jones, this weekend. "That's going to be the case again here. The only advantage I'll have here is mental, the advantage of being at home, of wanting to perform well to the fans.”