Friday, September 24, 2010

Kimi's comeback would surprise his racing fellows

A year ago after Singapore Grand Prix, Ferrari announced that they had broken the signed contract for this season with Kimi Räikkönen. Now they are pondering on Singapore paddock whether Räikkönen could switch back to F1 from rally in 2011.

Turun Sanomat asked about his chances from people who have worked with him and from people who had raced with him.

Peter Sauber was the team manager who hired the 21-year old Finnish talent straight from Formula Renault -serie to F1 in 2001. Sauber lifted up his hands when I asked him how realistic the thought of Räikkönen's comeback to F1 sounds.

– I have absolutely no idea, I really don't know. Of course it could be possible after one year in rally. Otherwise I wouldn't have hired Nick Heidfeld myself.

– Personally I would be very pleased if Kimi would come back. I like that guy. He is so different and talented, Sauber said.

Heidfeld was Räikkönen's first team mate. How does he react to the talks about Kimi's possible comeback?

– If Kimi would want it then I'm sure that he could do it without the smallest adjusting problems. I was away myself for a long time and I believe I can do it too.

– In any case Kimi's one year away is not the same as Michael Schumacher's three years, Heidfeld said.

Jenson Button was one of the young talents the family Robertson brought to F1 along with Räikkönen. Button does not think that he will see his racing fellow on GP-tracks anymore.

– I don't think that Kimi likes this sport so much that he would still come back. At least it didn't look like that last year. It would also be difficult because Kimi would of course only want to drive a good car.

– Kimi seems to enjoy it in rally and he even flies there at times. But if Kimi himself would want to come back then there wouldn't be any problem with that, he would drive just as he did before, Button says.

Chris Dyer worked as Räikkönen's race engineer in Ferrari when the duo made miracles in 2007 with winning the WDC.

Ferrari's strategist knows Räikkönen's skills and ability to adjust, but on the other hand he also knows about his love for rally.

– It would be a surprise if Kimi would come back to F1. You can see from his face how much he likes rally. I think the managers are more for the comeback than he is.

– In itself the return of a driver who is on Kimi's level would be easy. One year isn't much. It would also be in his advantage when others have to get used to the new Pirelli tyres. And Kimi can also already use the KERS-button well.

What about Räikkönen's attitude towards F1-driving?

– I never noticed at any point that Kimi would have seemed less interested than he used to be. Yet it doesn't matter. I know Kimi so well that I know he does exactly what he wants to do next year and I don't want to start guessing over it one way or another, Dyer stated.

Fernando Alonso shook his head when asked of Kimi's chances to come back.

– I don't have the faintest idea. We drivers always want to do what we feel is best for us.

Felipe Massa was of the same opinion.

– Kimi seems to like rally more than F1. Personally I would never go to rally. It doesn't suit my head. Only Kimi himself knows what he wants, Massa said.

Renault's Robert Kubica could become the Finn's team mate should he decide to come back to F1.

– Anything is possible in F1. If Kimi decides to come back then I'm sure everybody welcomes him back. It wouldn't be difficult for him to adjust to all this again because rally is completely different.

– But I don't know about Kimi's plans. If I would be Kimi I would stay in rally but I don't say it because I would want him to stay away, I say it because I know how great a WRC-car is and since my nature is what it is, I would choose rally if I was Kimi.

Nico Rosberg who has closely witnessed how difficult it has been for Schumacher to come back is assured that Kimi would have no problems if he would come back.

– I know that Kimi likes to drive F1-cars. The comeback would surely be very easy. A different thing is if Kimi would accept that he wouldn't make as much money as he is used to. If Kimi demands the same salary as before, then I don't think that we will see him here anymore, Rosberg thinks.

Webber does not believe in the possibility of Kimi ever coming back to F1.

– Kimi has already learned a lot in rally. I'm sure it would be best for him to take advantage of it next year because he doesn't enjoy the numerous off-track tasks in F1. In rally Kimi has already made it half and half.

– I'm sure Kimi would want to drive F1-cars but when the hottest fire under the belt is gone I don't think it motivates him the same way it did before, Webber thought.

– I love rally and I have always followed it. It's just so damn difficult. I know what the notes mean there - and phew... I'm not laughing at all at the difficulties Kimi has had, Webber said.

Vettel tells it straight and says he misses Räikkönen and wants him back.

– Personally I would be really happy if Kimi would drive in F1 again. I think he is one of the best drivers and one of my most genuine favorites from the the whole F1-bunch.

– A year in rally hasn't taken an inch away of Kimi's competitiveness. I think that Kimi will come back if he gets the chance to drive for the WDC 100%, Vettel says.

Heikki Kovalainen would also be pleased if Kimi would come back.

– It would be cool to see how he would still do. A year in rally is not any hinder if Kimi only is motivated to drive in F1. Of course it also depends upon what kind of a car he would get his hands on since it looks like all top teams are closed. I'm sure Kimi has more than enough of challenges in rally too if he should decide to stay there.

Aki Hintsa from McLaren who also has been Räikkönen's family doctor is merciless when it comes to time lines.

– If Kimi will come back then it should happen now. It would still be possible in 2011 but after that he has no chances. The train leaves and nobody catches it. You can see it from Michael Schumacher's comeback. Kimi hasn't been away for as long as Schumi has. It would still be a different matter, Hintsa says.

– What is crucial is the human age that none of us can do anything about - no matter how talented you are. The more you are over 30 years, the more your ability to react will slow down and the ability to learn something new becomes more difficult. There's something new coming to these cars all the time so the equation also changes and the more it changes, the more it's minus, Hintsa sums up.

Turun Sanomat, Singapore


Courtesy: Nicole

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