Former F1 racer Rubens Barrichello is to make his single-seater return in September in Australia’s S5000 series.

Since retiring from F1 in 2011 and racing in IndyCar in 2012, Barichello hasn’t had a competitive outing in a proper single-seater race car, while he has raced and continues to compete in Stock Car racing.

But the wait is no more as the grand prix winner is to make his single-seater return on September 20-22 weekend, which is the season-opener of Australia’s much awaited S5000 series at Sandown Raceway.

He is the first driver to be named for the opener, with 13 more to be named. “Having been to Australia many times during my F1 career, I’m excited to be coming back for the first ever race for S5000, in Melbourne,” he said.

“The concept of the S5000 formula is a very interesting one, the car looks to be a real challenge, and I look forward to playing my part in its launch. It’s great to see what will be a resurgence in serious open-wheeler racing in Australia.

“I hear the sight and sound of a 5-litre V8 in the back of the S5000 is pretty awesome. I’ve never been to the Sandown circuit before, so there will be much to absorb, but it looks like a great venue for the S5000s to make their debut. It’s going to be a great experience.”

Meanwhile, S5000 category manager Chris Lambden added: “We’re thrilled that a driver of Rubens’ pedigree is coming to Melbourne to compete in the first ever S5000 race.

“When we set out to create a top-level single-seater race category for Australia, tailored to the Australian V8 psyche, we hoped that it would provide an incentive to re-focus a spotlight on a form of racing that has slipped out of the limelight over recent years – the fact that Race 1 will see Rubens Barrichello on the grid is fabulous.

“Rubens has stayed very much ‘on his game’ since he last raced in F1 and Indycar – the Brazilian ‘Stock Car’ Championship is in fact a touring car category not unlike Australia’s Supercar series, but using identical V8-powered Chevrolet Cruze cars, with a 32-car grid and an array of famous Brazilians at the wheel.

“Rubens in fact won the very latest race, last weekend, at Campo Grande. He’s a real racer’s racer. So he’ll be right at home in an S5000, and a top quality target for Australia’s young hopefuls and more experienced racers to measure themselves against.”

The release adds: “The modern S5000 race cars adopt some of the philosophy of the famous Formula 5000 racers of the 1970s, with throaty V8 engines, big wings and fat tyres.

“Built by Melbourne-based race team Garry Rogers Motorsport, the S5000s are set to break lap records all across Australia. While the speed will be hard to miss, they will also be one of the safest race cars – the first in Australia to feature the internationally-regulated ‘halo’ protective device.

“The FIA-specification carbon-fibre monocoque is wrapped in Australian ingenuity, sporting gearbox and drive-train, suspension, wheels, bodywork and S5000-spec engine components designed and manufactured in Australia.”