Raikkonen completes radical move to WRC with Citroen
Scuderia Ferrari
Raikkonen completes radical move to WRC with Citroen
Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Dec 2009   |  1:48 pm GMT  |  156 comments

Always a driver to do things his own way, 2007 F1 champion Kimi Raikkonen has announced that he will drive for the Red Bull Citroen team in the World Rally Championship next season. He is the first world F1 champion to make that move.

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The 30 year old Finn has always had a soft spot for the sport and has competed in several rallies during his F1 career, including Rally Finland. When he failed to find a deal with McLaren for next season in F1 he announced that he would take a sabbatical from F1. That appears to be the current thinking, so he anticipates a return to F1 in 2011, but that will depend on what opportunities may open up and how much he enjoys his new life in rallying.

His links with Red Bull will be the ones to watch. Mark Webber has one more year left on his contract at Red Bull Racing and Raikkonen is likely to target that seat, if he is to make a return. Webber’s form in 2010 and the willingness of the Red Bull management to examine the Raikkonen option will be key talking points throughout next season.

He is set to earn well from his sabbatical; Ferrari is paying him €17 million, as severance pay after his contract was terminated a year early.

“I always wanted to compete in rally, especially in the World Rally Championship at some point in my career,” said Raikkonen.

“Thanks to Red Bull, I have the opportunity to drive the best car of the series with the Citroen C4. This is a new but very exciting challenge. For the moment we have a one-year contract and we will see how it goes for the future. I am really looking forward to testing the car and taking the start of the first rally.”

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1

There might be few readers who have misunderstood Kimi’s move because of cultural differences. WRC is a series that is hughly popular in Finland and is valued at least as much as F1. So Kimi’s move is not something less than driving in F1 or a sabatical year before a return back to to the real stuff (F1). Kimi has gone into WRC to try to be the first one ever to win both championships. I remember him confessing to a Finnish journo after his victory in 2007 that being a double champion (F1 + WRC) was his ultimate dream.

But even he knows he can’t win it in the first season. Maybe not even ever. That is why he is playing it down. It is a jump into unknown. But he will have a try.

I think he will try to go as fast as he can in 2010 and crash a lot – we will hear losts bashers making fun of his crashes and results – but if he feels he is learning he will continue to chase for the Chamionship. And do much better in 2011.

But then again if 2010 is a total failure – not result wise but learning wise – he might get back to F1 or more likely retire – which in my opinion will not happen.

To anyone not valuing WRC I say – try to put yourself in Kimi’s shoes for a while: here is a guy who have already won the WDC in F1 and have grown up hearing about victories of Marcus Grönholm, Juha Kankkunen, Tommi Mäkinen, Ari Vatanen, Hannu Mikkola, Timo Salonen and Markku Alén. And there probably isn’t a Finnish young male who has not at somepoint tried to drive as fast as those heroes at some lonely road. Rally driving is in the spinal cord of every Finn. In all its good and in bad.

2

Le Petit a WRC fansite on facebook have stated that their members have already increased from 24 000 fans to 80 000 fans since it has been announced that Kimi will be driving in WRC next year.

I am sure that Red Bull will soon be patting themselves on the back for this signing. 🙂

3

F1 will not be the same without the Kimster, but it looks like WRC gained itself a couple of million fans overnight!!!

Hope he enjoys 2010 in a C4 and that Reb Bull F1 gets a decent so that we have a Vettel and Kimi dream team in 2011.

4

I couldn’t agree with this more. His performance at Spa was sensational.

5

Would be pretty special if they brought back the Group B Rally monsters…Kimi would be worth watching in one of those! Just can’t get excited about a Citroen, though…As for Kimi coming back to F1, that’s it, he’s out. New drivers will come on to the scene, like Bianchi etc, and he will carry on rallying. He would have been the best bet for Mercedes in 2010, but I presume his price tag was a bit cheeky!

6

Note: Current day WRC’s are actually faster than the Group B’s used to be. In fact, in a rallysprint near my hometown, group B’s are allowed and we still get some Metro’s every year. They are just a tad (and I mean a tad) faster than top of the line Group N’s these days. Group B’s had a lot of power, but suspensions have evolved so much over the past decades that a car like an RS200 or a Metro is still fast, but they just can’t corner like amodern car… So in any rally that isn’t all straight lines, they can’t keep up..

7

oh I know the Group B cars were slower, but man were they more spectacular! Sliding all over the place, just like a proper rally car! Just can’t get too enthused about modern WRC, with flappy paddle gearshifts and fancy electronics. But I’m a motorsport Luddite…….

8

James does any of your threads fill up faster than Kimi topics? I know he has a ton of fans as well as detractors and the comments just seem to explode when you do Kimi topics

9

Kimi will be missed as far as I’m concerned. He may not have as much flare as Alonso or Hamilton, but I think he has always had the passion to do well.

James if you were in control of Ferrari for a day, who would you have picked between Massa and Raikkonen to partner Alonso next year?

For me I would have picked Kimi as when he is on the pace I do believe he is outright faster than Massa and is on-par with Alonso.

10

It’s also a joy to see the affection that people in this blog feel for Kimi, speaks volumes about his class.

11

I still think Kimi was the most interesting pilot in F1 for quite a while for sure.

12

Well there we go, F1’s loss will be WRC’s gain. WRC just got more interesting, F1 little less interesting. How muh will Kimi get paid for rallying? Who cares, think Kimi chose excitement and fun over same sport different car.

Will he be bck in 2011, it all depends how he goes in the WRC and how much he enjoys it. It certainly suits his lifestyle, entering a snow-mobile race under the name ‘james hunt’ prior to the first race of the F1 season one year – legend.

Kimi won’t care whether people think he’ll be back or not, he’ll be his own man and respect for that. According to what’s written bout him he must have been the laziest F1 world champ ever – what a hero!

You never know what happens in F1, he may be back sooner than we think – should a seat happen to come up during the season I’m sure citroen would allow him to race and the reason he probbly didn’t sign for mclaren was that they wouldn’t release him to do some rallying

That was a bit all over the place!

Interesting site James, good clean comments and banter and insightful. Looking forward to F1 and WRC in 2010.

13

What a come down, F1 world champion to Citroen junior team, what a waste.

I believe having won the championship he just couldn’t be bothered which is why Ferrari dumped him.

14

I really hope Kimi will not come back to F1!Why should he? I have been watching F1 for more than 20 years! Believe me I have seen what was the racing back then.

What F1 has become now? It’s a joke! farce! comedy! a pussy drivers show! With FIA regulations, ridiculous qualifying, test bans, engine freezes etc., etc F1 has become a JOKE!

I have always had a soft spot for rally. And now I really have a reason not to pay for a F1 pay-channel shit and watch my fav driver to drive a real racing!

I did not want to sound an old fart but it did 🙂

15

Are the common guidelines of a mutually terminated contact substantially different in Europe than the U.S? It seems that the higher ups at Ferrari can’t keep their mouths shut about Raikkonen’s financial contract to terminate, nor of their opinion of his perceived lack of motivation. And they can’t hide their school girl giddishness at Alonso’s messianic arrival. In the U.S., these would be grounds for litigation. The only class act in this charade was Kimi, who has had the good sense of saying nothing. What’s up? Did Kimi’s attorneys screw up in not asking for professional discretion, or in Europe can a global corporation like Ferrari trash an individual, (who by the way won a WDC for them), as they please? I know Italians love drama, but Alonso hasn’t turned a wheel in anger for them, yet they have embraced him as their new MS. Be careful of what you wish for.

16

James H, I think next season we’ll witness Ferrari reaping the “benefits” of what they’ve sown this season, though whether that gives them what the wished for remains to be seen :).

Alonso’s already pushed Schumeys nose out of joint, resulting in Schumey being sidelined to the production car facility, something he’s apparently less than pleased about.

On Kimi, I couldn’t agree more, he’s always been a class act, whilst others are unable to resist a snipe, a boast, or a soundbite, Raikkonen has wisely kept his council, he never was one for spurious comments, its refreshing to discover he’s retained that quality.

17

Good luck to Kimi in the WRC. Finns seem to be born to do it and having a driving license test that involves a skidpad must help them too. Do you think a modern day F1 driver and a WRC driver typically have overlapping skillsets? The machinery is very different as is the nature of the challenge. How successful do you see Kimi being at it?

18

It will not be easy to become really competitive in WRC, Kimi has only done 4 rallies in his whole career. He will need a few years, experience is very important in WRC. I think he will like it so much after one year, that he will just forget about F1.

Kimi showed good potential, people like Tommi Makinen was very impressed with Kimi, and Kay Lindstrom seems to think that he can become a WRC champion with some time, experience and practice.

It doesn’t sound to dissimilar from the way in which he entered F1. He entered F1 with the experience of 23 car races. Could history be repeating itself?

It remains to be seen, I will follow WRC avidly next year. If kimi becomes really competitive in WRC, then he will could be a true legend in motorsport!

19

The grid will miss Kimi. He is one of my favourite drivers and probably the best in F1. SD’s theory that he is good only in a competitive car is nonsense. Only the very best and supremely talented drivers could get incredible results in that red dog called Ferrari F60. 2010,without Raikkonen,has already lost a bit of sheen in my eyes

I hope he finds his way back in F1 in a competitive car. May be Vettel to Merc GP and Raikkonen in Red Bull…who knows.

20

Anyone who thinks that losing a WDC in the prime of his career to Rallying has a serious case of brain fade. Kimi had one bad year where he seemed to be unfocused (2008) and all of a sudden he was a pariah. Ferrari was always a snake pit when it came to internal politics. During the Schumi, Brawn, Todt, Byrne days the team was focused on winning. Now that that era has passed, Ferrari is reverting to form. Blaming Kimi for a bad car in 2009 and sending him packing is just Domenicalli and Montezemolo’s way of deflecting attention away from themselves. Besides Alonso, Hamilton and maybe Vettel there is no other driver that can compete with Kimi. For those of you who think he’s easily replaced…wake up.

21

Spot on mate! Thums up!

22

*Thumbs

23
Hans joergen Stroem

well written this post

24

agreed.

25

I agree… When Kimi won that race in Spa hardly a word from Ferrari brass…. Masssa took 3rd a few weeks earlier and they acted like he won the title!

26

I get the feeling that Kimi is now where he really wants to be. As talented as he is, I just don’t think his heart is really in F1 anymore, and frankly I can’t see a comeback in 2011. All the best to him.

As for Webber – could 2010 be his final year in the sport regardless of what happens with Kimi? He’s turning 34 next year, he won’t be around much longer anyway. As a fellow Aussie I’d like to see him stick around a bit longer, but only in a competitive car. Don’t want to see him trundling around the back in a STR. Actually I’d love to see him come back to Oz and race in the V8 Supercars but that’ll never happen!

27

Unfortunately I think Kimi is history for an F-1 future. Things do change rapidly, remember Damon Hill’s championship season? How about the trials and tribulations of Fernando Alonso’sfirst season at McLaren?

28

Looking forward to watching Kimi next year in WRC. There are those who say he can’t come back to F1 next year, but those are the same who said he couldn’t go to WRC this year. Kimi does what he wants on his terms and his strong will always get’s him through.

29
Mike from Medellin, Colombia

James, what’s the latest at Mercedes….does this give any more substance to the possibility of Michael Schumacher returning?

30

More likely Kubica if Renault bale out next week

31

As a Kimi fan I will be tuning into the wrc. All it needs now is Rossi, Pastrana and Block and it could rival if not surpass f1 in popularity. All the best f1 but I somehow believe this move could be the shot in the arm wrc needs!!!

32

WRC will never surpass F1 because it just isn’t that interesting for watching. No matter how boring F1 races have become, they still go out there and fight each other, while in rally they simply go one at a time and that’s just not that interesting, at least for viewing.

33

Rally just isn’t a television sport. I’ve watched it on TV and that just doesn’t work.

But for live viewing? Rally is a lot more fun than anything on a circuit. I’d happily go watch rally on the stages, but F1? I live in Singapore and if I had actually been there for the F1 race, I would have gone to see the quali live and watch the race itself on TV in my fav restaurant.

The one thing I find a shame is that Kimi joined WRC.

The thing is, I didn’t watch F1 during the Schumi years. I’d sometimes tune in at the start of the race, see the two Ferrari’s start as 1 and 2. Then tune in again 1.5 hours later and see them cross the line as 1 and 2. When one team or pilot is so dominant, it’s boring.

WRC today is the same, with Loeb just winning the title year after year after year. Hirvonen got closer this year, yes… But Loeb won again, and will again next year.

Now if Kimi had joined IRC, which has more than two brands and various pilots actually competing for the title, THAT would have been more interesting… And a bloody good reason to fly back to my home town next June. But WRC? Meh.. I wish Kimi the best in it, and I do wonder what he’ll be capable of on Asphalt next year… But even Kimi being there is not enough to get me all that interested in it again… And F1, still have to decide who to root for next year. Kobayashi maybe, if he gets a ride somewhere next year.

34

Block is in too, as far as I know

35

As part of the monster energy team with Atkinson?

36

James, I believe that we will see Kimi returning to F1 in 2011, teamed with Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull. In the event that Mercedes GP is successful in convincing Vettel to join them in 2012, Kimi could easily replace Vettel as their #1 driver for the 2012 season.

37

Kimi was pure hype… the baloon has truly burst.

He was lazy, lacked basic communication skills and demotivated his team.

Ferrari are not stupid – they must have booted him out for good reason.

Kimi’s WDC was the result of external factors and had very little to do with him… the FIA was always going to give ferrari the WDC and WCC in 2007 – it was, after all, Ferrari’s 60th anniversary in F1…

Best of all, we will see the demise of the lunatic Kimi fans, that would always put a positive spin on his failures and faults…

I fully expect Kimi to be a big a flop in WRC… good luck to the spectators on the side lines – they’ll need it!

38

Winning Spa, the ultimate drivers circuit, with a car that was supposed to achieve 6th place tops according to all people who know about these things…totally amazing all engineers in the paddock with that performance…a car that hadnt been updated for months….Kimi is a failure?

You sound like the typical rabid Alonso fan…we will see what happens in 100 days 😉

39

World Rally needed something like this to spark new life in to a formula that never gets the media attention it really deserves. Kimi is constantly under attack for not being bothered. Look at the press recently regarding Alonso’s visit to Maranello. Yet he still drove this year mediocre Ferrari to many great results. That’s how good he is. Good luck Kimi. Can you really see him back? I can’t.

40

i still had the hope of him joining mercedes 🙁

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