Eduardo Barrichello is looking to build on the family legacy.
The 17-year-old Brazilian is the son of former Formula One and NTT IndyCar Series driver Rubens Barrichello and is making his highly anticipated debut in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship at this weekend’s season-opening doubleheader during the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
The younger Barrichello did little to lower expectations after leading the final test session of the offseason on Sunday at the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course. Ultimately, he ran 101 total laps over five sessions and set the fifth-fastest overall combined pace at 1 minute, 24.8646 seconds (93.749 mph) around the 2.21-mile, 14-turn circuit.
“It was my first time on the track,” Barrichello said. “It was my third or fourth time in the car (over the offseason), so it was basically all new for me and I was just trying to enjoy it, feel the car and whatever I could get from the experience as I could give to my team.
“I was actually pretty happy with the outcome of the weekend, as we started a little bit behind. We came up and got better with the results and the times were better and better throughout the two days of testing.”
The outing was also a huge boost of confidence for his team, Miller Vinatieri Motorsports, which is new to the first rung of the Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires ladder. The team is co-owned by three-time Indianapolis 500 starter Dr. Jack Miller and Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri. Miller’s son, Jack William Miller, will pilot a second car alongside Barrichello for 2019.
Both youngsters competed in the Formula 4 United States Championship last year – albeit separately. Barrichello called the Tatuus USF-17 chassis used in USF2000 “a more smooth car” compared to what he experienced in F4.
The soft-spoken but confident second-generation pilot is also not set on letting the “rookie” label hold him back from success right out of the gate.
“I'm a race car driver,” he said. “I want to win as many races as I can and being a rookie it's kind of hard, but I can never let it go. I'm teamed up with Miller Vinatieri and they are coming from a year that they didn't do that well in F4.
“We're working with Tim Neff, which is a really good engineer and he's helping us through. So I think we're going to have a positive year.”
USF2000 action at St. Petersburg begins with practice at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday, followed by Race 1 qualifying at 4:45 p.m. Qualifying for Race 2 is set for 7:30 a.m. Friday, with the first race at 11:45 a.m. Race 2 concludes the weekend at 12:20 p.m. Saturday. Live timing and scoring and Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network commentary is available for all sessions at RaceControl.IndyCar.com. The Road to Indy TV app will have a livestream of all sessions.