FORMER grand prix driver Rubens Barrichello has switched to US-based IndyCar racing after failing to find a team in Formula 1 this year.
The Brazilian, 39, the most experienced F1 driver in history with 322 starts, will drive for the KV Racing team.
Barrichello had previously promised his wife he would never race in IndyCars because of the greater danger of their races on high-speed oval tracks.
“I’ll start as a rookie but I think I will get better,” he said.
The number of oval tracks on this year’s calendar has been greatly reduced but four still remain, including the famous Indianapolis 500.
Barrichello’s decision will have been made harder by the multi-car crash at last year’s season finale which claimed the life of Englishman Dan Wheldon.
According to KV Racing, it was Barrichello’s two sons who convinced his wife, Silvana, that their father should pursue a career in the US.
Barrichello, who won 11 grands prix in a 19-year F1 career in which he drove for the Jordan, Stewart, Ferrari, Honda, Brawn and Williams teams and has signed a one-year deal added: “I am thrilled. My main thing is to be an addition to the team.
“They have been doing very well. Tony [Kanaan, a close friend of Barrichello] brought them to a different level last year, so I hope with my contribution we can build on this and take the team to another level.
“I am extremely happy and have a big smile on my face.”
IndyCar has been struggling in recent years, with declining crowds and limited coverage on television in the US.
Four-time champion Dario Franchitti recognised that Barrichello’s arrival can only boost the profile of the series and strengthen the field.
Born: 23 May, 1972 in Sao Paulo
Teams: Jordan, Stewart, Ferrari, Honda, Brawn GP, Williams
Grand Prix: 325