Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn says that Brazil’s Rubens Barrichello – Formula 1’s most experienced driver – is in contention for a seat at the Swiss team next season.
Barrichello, who has started a record 322 races, finished as championship runner up to then Ferrari team-mate Michael Schumacher in 2002 and 2004.
He left the sport at the end of the 2011 season, with 11 wins and 14 pole positions to his name, after Williams decided not to retain him.
The 41-year-old has since raced in American single-seater series IndyCar and Brazilian stock cars as well as attending several Formula 1 races a TV analyst for Brazilian TV.
Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is keen to have a Brazilian driver in the sport next season and is understood to have been pushing to secure Felipe Massa – the only Brazilian currently on the grid – a seat for next year after the 32-year-old’s Ferrari contract was not extended.
Sauber have yet to confirm their driver line-up for next season, although Formula Renault 3.5 driver Sergey Sirotkin, 18, is expected to take one seat as part of a deal with Russian investors.
That leaves current drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez in contention for the other seat, along with Barrichello and Massa, who made his F1 debut with the Swiss team in 2002.
“There are a couple of options out there,” said Kaltenborn. “We know what he [Barrichello] has – his experience, we know that he’d like to come back. So let’s see.”
Kaltenborn did however rule out Barrichello making a one-off appearance in the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos. She said: “I don’t see any possibility there because we have no reason to change our two drivers for that race.”