Formula 1 to Lose Kimi Raikkonen to WRC?
Two of the most flamboyant drivers' in Formula 1 may not be on the starting grid for 2019. Yes, after Fernando Alonso's rumored move to Indy Racing, there are speculations of Kimi Raikkonen's return to World Rally Championship (WRC). Although, he is been linked to McLaren next season, but his WRC move could well be on the cards if reports are to be believed. And, the most likely destination is Toyota.
Toyota World Rally Championship team principal, Tommi Makinen, quoted in the media saying that the doors are open for Raikkonen to test the car.
"He hasn't tested anything now, but why not? If he wants to drive the car I can let him, no question. I know how he is driving. He drives very well, he's not crazy."
Kimi is not new to rallying. He spent three years rallying from 2010 to 2012 when he took sabbatical from Formula 1. He also competed with his own team in 2011 World Rally Championship, where he finished 8th in Sweden and 7th in Portugal. Time and again Kimi has shown his willingness to compete in WRC, but it is not going to be easy for him. Five-time WRC champion Sebastien Ogier said:
"We remember when he came several years ago, he struggled and now, after being out [of rallying] for some time, it won't be easier especially now as I feel the level is even higher than when he was there before."
Toyota may not have any issues with Kimi testing one of their cars, and he could be rallying for them if everything falls into place, but the decision has to be well thought out. The Finn is now 39, and probably have a couple more seasons left in him. Meanwhile, Alonso's move will also have a big say in Raikkonen's decision.
If Alonso decides to leave, McLaren would want to have an experienced driver in their line-up with championship-winning experience. Kimi will be a high-profile addition to their line-up and certainly the best they can get at the moment. Although Daniel Ricciardo could be an option, he is yet to win a championship, and McLaren has added at least one world champion in its line-up in the past one decade.
"He’s a guy with a lot of experience and McLaren have always wanted some experience in the team. So if they lose Fernando, they’re going to want someone with experience. I’m sure there’s going to be a few more people linked with it before the end of the year.”
Moreover, Kimi has some unfinished business at McLaren. He drove for the Silverstone-based outfit from 2002-2006. He finished runners-up twice. Saying that Kimi would win a world championship with them would be overambitious, but he can certainly be a valuable addition, particularly in team's development.
Having said that, this is that time of the year when everyone will be linked with everyone. Until the official announcement is made, you cannot expect where one if heading to.