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What next for Kimi Raikkonen?
Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Nov 2009   |  11:53 am GMT  |  152 comments

Kimi Raikkonen has a blank space in his diary – it’s called 2010.

He has not totally ruled out F1, as his manager Steve Robertson left the door open this morning in an interview with Autosport’s Jon Noble over in Macau, that he could re-examine the possibility of racing with the new Mercedes team, if they were interested in having him.
Raikkonen_Japan'09_008

“This is Formula 1,” said Robertson. “If they can offer, or convince us, that they can provide Kimi an opportunity that Kimi is happy with, and that we are happy with, and he feels he can win races and the championship then never say never. There is always a possibility.”

My conversations with Brawn management earlier this week did not suggest to me that Kimi was on their target list, for very specific reasons. And my colleagues in Finland feel that the Mercedes move is unlikely for the same reasons. But if they do start talking again it will indicate the degree to which Mercedes did not anticipate being in this position. Brawn and Mercedes’ strongest alternative now is to field a line up of Rosberg and Heidfeld, which has never won a race and is no match for Alonso/Massa, Hamilton/Button or Vettel/Webber.

I still sense that Brawn is shocked and dismayed that Button has left them. Although there was always a chance that it would happen, based on the way they played the game, I think they felt he wouldn’t go through with it.

McLaren have done a very good job on Button and his manager, convincing them that they will give him a winning car, a decent salary and lots of love for the next three years. For Ron Dennis and Martin Whitmarsh this is a personal coup, as he has given Mercedes some real pain at the moment of their great ‘triumph’, acquiring Brawn. This is a perfect illustration of the time honoured phrase, “In F1 you are either taking pain or giving it.”

Image wise McLaren will have the number one on its car for the third time in four seasons and that has huge marketing and self esteem benefits.

But back to Kimi, Robertson says that, “If he does not do F1, then I am sure he will do something in the World Rally Championship”. The WRC people are very excited about the possibility of him coming on board. Petter Solberg’s privateer Citroen team is keen to have him and time will tell whether he can do better than that and get a works Citroen drive, possibly with the backing of Red Bull. Raikkonen and Red Bull look like they were made for each other.

“A gap year means nothing for Kimi,” said Robertson. “He is more interested in fighting for wins and the world championship. F1 will miss Kimi. He worked hard over the summer – doing things in a Ferrari that only the best drivers are capable of.”

If it does turn into a gap year and Raikkonen returns to F1 in 2011, there is a precedent for taking a gap year towards the end of an F1 career; Alain Prost took a year out of F1 in 1992 and came back the following year with Williams, winning the world championship.

Raikkonen may want to come back in 2011, but there may not be many winning seats available. Massa’s contract will be up, but I can’t see them going back over that road with Kimi. The most obvious choice for me would be Red Bull. I think the rumours this Autumn about Raikkonen possibly taking Mark Webber’s seat next year were based on Kimi’s people shaking the tree to see if anything came of it.

Webber’s contract will be up at Red Bull next year and if Raikkonen is doing something in rallying with Citroen and Red Bull, that may lead him back. But he would have to really want it and so would they. They would have to be convinced that he was fully motivated for an F1 return.

I think he may find it hard to leave the relaxed atmosphere of rallying and go back into the cesspit of F1, with the unwanted attention and the media hype. He achieved his goal of winning the championship in 2007 and has made more money than he will ever be able to spend. It’s about pleasure now and rallying offers him a huge new challenge in an environment better suited to his character.

And he will have Valentino Rossi to compete against shortly; with new manufacturers due to come in as well, WRC is rubbing its hands with glee!

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1

A world champion would race next year only if he can sit in a championship-winning car. But here it is, a seat in a car that won constructors championship! If Kimi signed a deal with Mercedes I would bet on him winning the championship straight away.

2

kimi is our main target…NICK FRY

While Brawn does not mention any [driver] names, Nick Fry is somewhat more open in stating his preference. “We will carefully consider the drivers that are suitable and available. Almost everyone [of those] would quite like the seat. If it were up to me to decide we would sign Kimi Raikkonen. He can start tomorrow as far as I am concerned. He knows of my preference, has my number and can call me anytime. I would happily welcome him as a new driver”, says Nick Fry.

http://www.autosportzone.nl/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4577&Itemid=30

3

Hey James! What to you think are the chances for Kimi ending up at MercedesGP?

My hopes aren´t that high! I mean what can Brawn/Mercedes offer Kimi what Macca couldn´t? I heard that Mercedes does want Kimi but so did Mclaren!

4

I think as a car manufacturer they can offer less or different PR duties than Vodafone asked for.They can offer Ross Brawn etc. I think a lot.

5

kimi is bored of F1. budgets are coming down and mercedes, having bought out 70% of a team, will not have the budget to keep him in. i can see kimi doing something for fun, he doesn’t need the money and just wants to enjoy himself. WRC is likely, even if he crashes at every rally!

heidfeld will be a good fit at mercedes (brawn) i think, i hope they give him his chance in a decent car.

for me, the biggest question mark now is renault and kubica…

6

“I imagine driving an F1 car at top speed with the skill he has is a thrill that nothing can match, be that rally or anything else.”

If you imagine F1 offers thrills nothing else can match.

You have never watched the film of Vatanen driving the Peugeot 405 Group B car up Pikes Peak. F1 is a tame and sanitized situation in comparison. Kimi is no doubt well

aware of this and perhaps that’s why he wants to go rallying.

7

What a great season 2010 will be!

Alonso, Massa, Hamilton, Button, Vettel and Webber, all in what will probably be competitive cars! Add the new teams in, and it should be one hellova year!

Just a couple of questions James:

One: McLaren seem to be giving Mercedes considerable “pain” at the moment. Is this wise, seeing as they still have a long term working relationship that they need to maintain?

Two: The McLaren teams morale will be boosted by having the number 1 on their cars for 3 of the last 4 years. How much of a boost will this really be, seeing as they have only actually earned one of them?

Love this blog

8

Hi James, I’d just like to echo some of the comments here by asking what can be more important for an F1 team than having a winning driver?

ie, paying over the odds [as they may see it] for Kimi must be an investment worth making for Haug and RB.

But if we are facing the prospect of 2010 without KR on the grid, (and I’m feeling a bit calmer now about that than 48 hrs ago) I don’t believe Kimi will opt for rally over F1 as you suggest he may do. I imagine driving an F1 car at top speed with the skill he has is a thrill that nothing can match, be that rally or anything else. So I’m optimistic that he will be back 2011.

9

I hope he ends up in the Brawn seat. I can’t see Heidfeld or Sutil matching the pace he gets out of the car.

10

James, I am hearing rumors that button already had a outlined deal with McLaren before brazil. Have you heard anything? And Haug has confirmed negotiations with Robertsons, if a deal is struck, do you see a 1 or 2 year agreement?

11

As when Michael Schumacher left the Grid…come March 14th 2010 he’ll soon pale into the background as we focus elsewhere.

12

How come Jenson was at the factory very soon after Kimi? Because they are very much linked. I have heard that there was a deal that was sorted between Mclaren and Brawn. That Mclaren, who have dont have as much money, as Robertson said, as they used to.

Enter Mercedes who have bought Brawn, who are willing to spend, would pay the salary that Kimi wants, if they pay him $15 million, which they offered jenson, plus the 10 mil from ferrari is a sweet deal.

Kimi IS going to Mercedes, I expect an announcement with the next week.

13

Kimi wasn’t there, his manager was

14

Yeah but if you understand me, a bit of Kimi, his manager. The man who looks after Kimi’s intrests

15

For Mercedes, instead of Nick Heidfeld, I would be tempted to go for Heikki Kovalainen. OK, he was roundly beaten by Hamilton this year, but most think Button will be. He has done a bit better than Heidfeld – has won a race – and knows the Mercedes engine which might be useful. And he might even be in a better frame of mind against Rosberg.

In the world of fantasy, how about Schumaker at Mercedes in 2011? Didn’t he start his career in sportscars with them? And he’d be back with Ross.

16

Hi James,

Like to congratulate you for the huge success of your blog. Moneywise, maybe Ross is the biggest winner this year, you are my overall biggest winner in F1 circle for 09.

Would you considering launching your own live coverage of races on the Internet in the future?

17

Now that McLaren has called their bluff, I think it might be Robertson who approached Mercedes, not vice-versa.

I also think it might be Kimi who approached Robertson and told him to stop mocking around and get him a drive instead.

But there’s one thing to keep in mind: Kimi is fired and that says Ferrari think there are at least 2 drivers better than him. McLaren didn’t want him that bad either so that means 4 drivers better than him.

If he is, in the eyes of the teams, only the 5th best driver on the grid out of 20, I think he should shut up and drive or get the hell out, instead of acting like some primadona, threatening to leave like it would mean the end of F1.

18
Paige Michael-Shetley

James,

Do you think maybe Raikkonen and Robertson are going to catch Merc in a compromised situation?

McLaren had the option of going with Button at a cut price instead of Raikkonen, so they had leverage. Merc are now stuck in an ominous situation in which they won’t have a top line driver in their first year, and this would surely be unacceptable to them. Merc knows what Raikkonen is capable of from their days together at McLaren, and Haug is said to be a fan of his as I understand it.

We know that Brawn has spoken to Raikkonen before, as he made the statement to the press that the Robertsons are negotiating as if there is no Ferrari payoff. I don’t think Merc will pay Raikkonen Alonso/Hamilton money, but they would surely offer something on the order of what they offered Button, if not a higher amount.

19

“I still sense that Brawn is shocked and dismayed that Button has left them.” I couldn’t agree more.

I sense Button felt the Brawn team doubted his abilities? If that’s the case he’ll be even more motivated to prove a point to them and the world he’s GENUINE champion…

20

Does Massa’s Contract have an Option James??

21

Raikkonen to Negotiate with Mercedes GP

19.11.2009

Norbert Haug has confirmed that Kimi’s managers have called to Mercedes GP’s Nick Fry to open negotiations.

“This is normal behaviour as long as there’s a seat to be filled. Other drivers and their representatives have done the same. No decisions has been made yet” says Haug.

http://www.hs.fi/urheilu/formula1/artikkeli/Räikkönen+neuvottelee+vielä+Mercedes+Grand+Prixn+kanssa/1135250885855

22

Haug: ” Kimi has my number, he can give me a call anytime…” (Auto Motor Sport)

23

I can’t believe anyone would be shocked that Jenson jumped teams. Look at his history.

24

It seems like Kimi’s Merc move was Robertssons (and Haug’s) plan all along. Macca and Button were suckered into trap.

Kimi plays a hard to catch for Macca, Brawn plays hardball with Jenson. Then Brawn transforms into Merc, Haug moves his office out from Macca.

Kimi tells Macca, sorry- no go. Macca goes into panic mode and secures Jenson as quick as possible.

Suddenly Merc comes up whit Kimi as their nr. 1 hitter for season 2010. All coinside ? I dont think so. Robertssons and Haug teached all of us a lesson how to play the game.

I dont think Jenson ever had chance to remain at the new Merc-Brawn.

25

I just read an article by Autosport about team principals voting for who they thought was the best driver on the grid for 2009. Vettel was no. 1 (no surprises), but I was very surprised to find that Kimi only ended up being the 6th best (after Button, Hamilton, Alonso and Barrichello). If these points are anything to go by, Kimi may not even have a drive for 2011. Do these points truly reflect Kimi’s effort this season (I certainly don’t think so, but team principals are privy to private information), or is formula 1 more about sponsorship pr than pure racing?

26

Kimi’s performances have been pretty good whenever Ferrari paid attention to what he wanted and gave him the car that he liked. Just because Massa and his mentor MS tried everything in their power to steer Ferrari towards Massa’s driving style doesn’t diminish the value of Raikkonen. Haug should have a pretty clear idea what Kimi is capable of. If he thinks Kimi is fast, he would do his best to convince Ross to hire him. Ross “asking around” is not as good as having first-hand knowledge of Kimi’s capabilities. Something that Norbert surely has plenty of.

27

Hello James,

Superb content on your site.

In case you missed them, here are some links to a quite clever series of shorts on the USF1 team. I understand you don’t post links, so this is more for your own entertainment.

Day 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJTynvakZok

Day 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwcZR86pK3Y

Day 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMh3qu5GtZA

Day 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QB6eJluXEbs

Day 5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1j_cYbPafoY

Day 6: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0WZSTijeZM

(I tried sending it to editor@jamesallenonf1.com, as opposed to posting it on a comment, but the email bounced back.)

28

James, I know this is completely off-topic, but just what is happening with US F1?

Virgin-Manor have Glock and A.N other, Campos-Meta have Bruno Senna, Lotus look a possible for Jarno Trulli…but from US F1 it’s pretty much total silence.

Have you heard anything lately which suggests they are going to make the grid in 2010?

29

I know quite a bit about the reasons why they have been quiet and I’m reasonably confident that they will be there

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