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Rubens Barrichello has told his former team that if things don't work out with Felipe Massa he is ready to step in to the breach for the Maranello outfit.
With Massa, and his ongoing problems with the F112, still the centre of media attention, a recent poll in Autosprint saw readers vote Barrichello as the man they'd most like to see replace the troubled Brazilian should Ferrari feel the need to drop him.
"It was unexpected," Barrichello told Brazil's SporTV. "It shows that I left something good there."
However, the veteran racer, who has now switched to IndyCar, was quick to defend his countryman.
"It's not a problem of speed," he said. "Ferrari definitely adores Alonso because he is maybe the best out there right now, so Felipe has a tough problem."
Speaking of the possibility of a return to F1, be it with Ferrari or one of its rivals, Barrichello is clearly up for it. "I'm completely open about it," he said, "it would be something to think about.
"In my first Twitter after Williams called me, I made it clear that I was sad and that my future was open," he added. "I think that's the way it has to be. I think anything can happen. I'm not saying it will happen, but I have to be ready."
Of course, some might say that the Brazilian's previous (six season) stint with Ferrari was anything but satisfying, what with having to play second fiddle to Michael Schumacher, a role Massa is fulfilling alongside Alonso at present.
"I want the fans to understand that I don't have any hard feelings," said Barrichello. "If Ferrari called me today to go drive for them I would go. It was the best team I've ever driven for in terms of support, of creativity. But there were definitely some spicy episodes."
The Brazilian, when asked about his new career in IndyCar with KV Racing, admitted: "It's still all too new for me. It's going to take some time to adjust to everything, that was expected."
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