INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (AFP) –
Formula One veteran Rubens Barrichello pronounced himself satisfied with his Indianapolis 500 debut after finishing 11th in the 96th running of the US racing spectacle.
The Brazilian even led for two laps as the drivers cycled through their pit-stops and was the highest-placed rookie in the race won by Scotland’s Dario Franchitti for the third time.
“It was a great achievement today,” said Barrichello, who made the jump to IndyCar this season but was driving his first race on an oval.
“It was very different than anything I’ve done,” he said. “We carried too much downforce all the way. That kept me safe. It kept me racy. I mean, I could race sometimes, but it was very hard to follow people and to keep it running fast.”
Barrichello raced in Formula One from 1993-2011, driving last season for Williams. His resume includes 11 F1 victories and he was runner-up in the World Championship in 2002 and 2004.
This season he joined compatriot Tony Kanaan at KV Racing.
“It’s a pity that we didn’t finish top 10, just outside,” he said. “But I can be proud of that for my first time out. … I had a wonderful afternoon. You learn who races a little bit harder, who races a little bit more friendly.
“The last 20 laps, I tell you, they are completely different from the whole other 180…
“At 220, 225 (mph), it’s just madness out there sometimes. But sometimes people are good. Some of them have more respect than others, but all in all, I had a positive afternoon.”