Raikkonen poised to return to F1 with Williams
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  23 Sep 2011   |  4:10 pm GMT  |  229 comments

Kimi Raikkonen is on the verge of signing a deal to return to F1 with Williams.

The 2007 world champion has been in discussions with the team for several weeks, following a recent visit to the factory in Grove. Sources suggest that discussions are going the right way and they are now close to a deal.

It is understood that the Finn, who will be 32 next month, is keen to get back into F1 competition after two years on the sidelines in rallying. The timing is significant as Williams are on the look out for a bold move to boost the team and Raikkonen can see that the F1 driver landscape is likely to change a lot at the end of 2012 and a strong season, reminding everyone what he can do, might open some doors.

Michael Schumacher’s comeback is both a positive example, but also a warning to the Finn as it took the seven times champion some time to get up to speed. Raikkonen has kept sharp by competing in world rally for the past two seasons, but at the same time he will take a while to get fully up to speed with the Pirelli F1 tyres. All his rivals will have a year’s experience on them.

From Williams’ point of view, team boss Adam Parr will want to make a bold move after a season to forget in 2011. He has hired a new technical team, led by Mike Coughlan, with Dr Mark Gillan (who is here in Singapore) in charge of race operations and Jason Sommerville as chief aerodynamicist. His other options are to retain Rubens Barrichello, hire a known quantity like Heikki Kovalainen or go for a rookie alongside Pastor Maldonado. Or he could wait to see whether a Robert Kubica comeback might dislodge Bruno Senna from Renault. Rumours of a connection with Adrian Sutil have been firmly denied on both sides.

One thing is for sure, Williams are likely to finish 9th in the Constructors’ Championship this year and that will mean a shortfall in prize money and sponsor bonus money.

However most major sponsor contracts have a clause where they pay more if a world champion comes to the team and that may be another factor to encourage the Raikkonen move, particularly if his wage demands are reasonable.

Hiring Raikkonen would be a very bold statement from Williams as he is a world champion and an 18 times race winner. He certainly has the speed and the skills to compete with the best in F1, will certainly get some eye catching results and his name might also help attract a sponsor or two, although he is not known for being keen on promotional appearances. For F1 it would mean that there would be 6 world champions in the field of 24 drivers, which has never happened before in its 61 year history. The feeling in the paddock is that it would be a good thing, if it happens.

The possible question mark with Raikkonen is motivation; he seemed to have run out of motivation in his final season with Ferrari in 2009 and driving what is likely to be a midfield car, even if it is a regular points challenger, he will be seeking to prove a point rather than win races.

One key relationship he will not have to develop from scratch is with new Williams technical director Mike Coughlan, who worked with the Finn at McLaren from 2002 until his move to Ferrari in 2006. They know each other well.

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1

Hi James,

Can you please let us know of whats happening to Kimi-Williams deal?Since it is looking like it might fall apart..

2

Hi James,

Do you think Bottas has a chance to get a race seat for 2012, also Raikkonen’s manager’s were spotted in Abu Dhabi – when do you think the driver line up will be announced?

3

Maybe not for 2012, but he seems to be rated

4

Hi James,

The fact that a Kimi to Williams deal has not been announced, leads me to believe that the likelihood of Kimi coming back to F1 is quickly disappearing. Can you shed any light on this? That is if there is any light to shed?

5

It’s in the balance, definitely.

6

Both need to be back at the front- a good possibility …gonna be funny seeing Kimi in a flapping Williams jacket complaining about the cold in South Texas next year!

7

Its great news if Its true!! F1 hasnt been the same since Kimi left. I read rumors that Renault also is unterested in kimi!.. Can that be true?.. But i dont care!! Just want him back to F1 !!… And for 2013 take webbers seat!!

8

James, you got any updates on this?.

Thanks

9

I think it depends on a large piece of business Williams is trying to do in Qatar. FW has been there for three weeks….

10

I think there are lots of reasons why people dislike Raikkonen, his natural talent, his desire not to place F1 above everything else in his life, that he went to Ferrari (Schumacher chose to retire, they would have kept him over Massa without a doubt), that he is over rated (check out the 2003 season, he nearly won the WDC in a two year old car or his drive at Suzuka on ’05 or his win at Spa in ’09), that he is lazy (not sure how they know that unless they are team managers however I have never heard a team manager say that) or that he decided not to carry on racing in torrential rain (the only driver who showed common sense in my opinion). One thing none of them can deny however is that with the exception of possibly Hamilton, he is still the most popular driver in F1 and he hasn’t driven in F1 since 2009.

11

Very cool. Maybe at a more down to earth team like Williams he wont be chastized for being seen sitting in the garage having a coke and a popsicle.

12

ICEMAN! THY SECOND COMING WE AWAIT!

Ok here’s the math and putting all the permutations and combinations together:

Kimi’s not in it for the money. He’s got plenty of the greenbacks and where it comes from they’re multiplying in plenty and he still figures on the world sports rich list. RBR is a thinly veiled Renault works team and Red Bull has been a longtime Iceman backer. Won’t be surprised if the Williams deal with Renault included KR in some sorts – to use 2012 as a practice and warm up year before options in 2013 open up. If not RBR in 2013, Norbert Haug, who’s been close to Kimi off the track, could open up options in Mercedes as well, if not McLaren. Overall, the sport benefits with Kimi. WRC saw a big spike in viewers and following since he joined and he’s still the most searched racing driver on the internet (check the results Google throws up). Though not openly stated, BE is pushing for it as well. F1 loves global sponsors and sponsors love Kimi. Here in India at least, apart from Schumi’s name, Kimi’s the most known. His McLaren and Ferrari styled helmets are still the rage and in huge demand – even two years after he’s been shown on Star Sports – in all the major cities I’ve visited. He’s realized he left too early and has still so much to achieve here. 2012! ICEMAN!

13

JA,

The Raikkonen deal seems to be leaning towards the NO outcome. Have the Roberstons always been tight lipped when it comes to negotiations or what do you evaluate from Steve’s and Kimi’s spokeperson comments recently in the media about no talks being held with anyone for 2012?

Thanks

14

SIGN the Deals, kimi

WE MISS YOU LOADS IN THE TRACK

15

I honestly can’t wait. I never rated Raikkonen, and one of the most disheartening things was Ferrari taking him as a replacement for Schumi.

I suspect alot of the “lazy” comments about Kimi are in comparison to Schumi when he was at Ferrari.

Alot of people have different ideas about car development in Massa’s favour during their time together, but if Kimi had been more pro-active, theres no way the engineers would have followed Massa’s lead.

Look at the team now. Alonso has galvanised it and is leading them in the right direction. 2010, British GP he is 47 points behind, yet still declared he’d win. He gave the team direction and belief, and, but for a fumbled strategy they would have been champions. Massa didn’t stand a chance…

So Kimi at Williams, bored and struggling with tyres and lack of testing being beaten regularly by Maldonado… Will Red Bull come in for him??

If they were truly that stupid, I couldn’t wait for Vettel to show us how over-rated Kimi actually is.

For all the people who claim no-one doesn’t want Kimi back, let me be the first, I hope he doesn’t.

16

sorry but a very short sightened view of you… I think you’ve to talk to some engineers and than start to talk…

17

Kimi’s Finnish assistant, Riku Kuvaja, denied any negotiations with anybody.

But he has apparently also said to the reporter that all options are still open. There is no quote of him saying this. The reporter included F1 as a possible choice.

So… 🙂

Source: http://www.iltalehti.fi/formulat/2011092614459242_fo.shtml

18

I’m so tired of all those who whine on Kimi!

Here we have one of the world’s fastest F1 drivers, look what Kimi performed earlier.

It is very low that year after Ferrari tripped him, says he is no leader.

What it really says is that Ferrari does not have a strong leader.

A leader’s job is to “lift” their employees, what does this say about Ferrari’s leadership.

I have been in top management For many years, and I think is a lot of bullshit coming out of Ferrari, They do not have A good leader since Todt! a milijonindustri which says that the driver will lead the team. If they poured from the individual they won more World Championships!

Why dont you talk about the team leadership? How is the best Team Principal, why dose he get out the best of his people? that is the question!

19

Let’s not forget James never said Kimi was definately coming back. All he said is that there were talks and that they somewhat advanced. But until he signs he is not coming back. I don’t think his management will confirm the talks if they are in the midst of salary/PR negotiations. Why would they? I for one hope to see him back, but if not we still have some fabulous racers to watch! I look forward to 2012!

20

James can you shed any light on this article?

Manager: No F1 negotiations for Räikkönen

http://www.gpupdate.net/en/f1-news/268801/manager-no-f1-negotiations-for-raikkonen/

21

No. That’s not what we hear from sources in UK and Finland

22

James is Kulta your finnish source or do you have any other reliabel finnish source?

Thx for the insight anyway!

23

I like that Kimi is back!

He has one of import attribute; he never explanations! If you compare Alonso, Fernando has allways something disease: teammate, car, tyres, Hamilton, tactic, weather, track and so on…

And must keep in mine; Kimi is very fast!!

So you are welcome Kimi!!!

24

+1

I recall a race in Canada, I think it was back in 2008 (could be ’09) when Hamilton crashed into the back of him in the pits with a red light. Kimi got out, didn’t go spastic but instead kept his mouth shut, patted Hamilton on the shoulder and pointed to the red lights. Point made crystal clear – “Are you blind, Ham?”

As someone said previously, just because a guy is quiet doesn’t mean he is not motivated or not interested. He makes his point through other means other than using his mouth to blabber bullshit out.

25

You are absolutely right.

Don’t expect people to start behaving much differently if they step out of their home country.

Some people judge Kimi as if he is not Finnish at all. Like some Italians even at Ferrari wanted him to learn Italian just because he works in the English-speaking! Italian race team. If that’s how you want your drivers then hire only Italians. Don’t feed us crap that a driver is not good if he doesn’t speak your language – you knew Kimi did not speak Italian so why did you hire him. He’s not going to learn it just to massage your egos.

26

He’s not back yet. Close, but not back until it’s signed

27

Close? But Robertson & Kimi’s PR guy deny any negotiation. James, is Robertson still managing Kimi?

28

Dear goodness gracious me I hope this happens and everything works the way it should and he can win a championship. If he doesn’t I’d be fine with that only if Robert Kubica was to beat him.

29

Hi James,

Do we know if there’s been any change in his management team since he left F1? I seem to recall Peter Sauber described Robertson as a “sofa salesman” or something similar!

I think the biggest barrier to a return will be over ambitious wage demands from his management. And Williams are definitely not known for spending big on drivers!

30

It is great news to hear he might be back on the grid next year. What is not so great is that it will most likely be in a very uncompetitive Williams if it happens…Saying that I love Kimi and Williams, and if they can win together I will be one of the happiest men alive. On a different note, I still cannot believe how many people moan about his personality! What on earth does that have to do with driving a car fast? I much prefer people like him who are quiet and just goes about his business with little fuss…Actually his style might suit Williams which are a no nonsense team, led by people who love and are real racers and who only cares about that. Hope it happens…But I doubt it…

Great Site by the way James. Just found it today, going to become my favourite F1 site!

31

Thanks – tell your friends!

32

Let’s hope hard he will come back! Thanks for the great piece James!

33

Be glad to see Kimi back, assuming he still has the speed (I don’t want to see him trawling around picking up the cheques.)

I don’t get why people regard Kimi as boring. He’s not boring – look at his lively private life – he’s just bored by F1 politics and the endless toe-the-party-line interviews with the media.

34

These news has been out since Kimi lefted F1, but if this really happens, I have to ask, WHY Wlliams? I’m Finnish person and I really can’t see what is the point for Kimi? Only this will make a sense if Red Bull connection is there in long point future..but why Williams.. sorry guys..Im huge Kimi fan but this is like Loeb goes to Stobart..;)

35

Kimi turned down deals at McLaren and Mercedes last year, so it seems like a backwards step.

The Williams car is not likely to be a front runner, the pay wont be as good and Kimi has said he doesn’t like how F1 is with the DRS and such.

But if Kimi is really serious about getting back into the sport then really this is his only option. All the good seats are taken, and another year out wouldn’t do him any good. I think it will be interesting to see how he gets on in the midfield, how racy he is. That is assuming it all happens, as I thought Kimi went to the factory looking to drive in Le Mans when Williams get more involved with Jaguar.

36

Not quite true. He was close to a McLaren deal for 2010, but Whitmarsh went for Button instead when it became clear he was free

37

Well, Kimi did say in an interview that “there is no point signing a stupid deal”. Kimi really used the word stupid. He was very clear about it. I don’t know the reason but he clearly felt that McLaren had offered him a stupid contract.

We do not know at what point did Button come in to this. As far as I can tell, it may have been before or after Kimi was offered “a stupid contract” by McLaren.

Maybe McLaren tried to get him cheap considering Kimi was still getting Ferrari (Santander, Alonso’s Santa Claus Botin) money for 2010? That should be none of McLaren’s business so if that happened then I think Kimi was rightfully upset by it.

38

Okay, crazy idea:

If Raikkonen is serious about getting back into Formula 1, but wants a fast car, maybe he could go to Force India. They’re currently 6th in the WCC, though they have got a fight on their hands; Sauber won’t let the place go willingly, if they can help it. But Williams is currently only 9th, and faces an uphill battle to recover lost ground. If Adrian Sutil is in talks with Williams, Force India could cut him loose and scoop up Raikkonen. That way, Force India get a fast driver, and Williams get a committed one.

39

If Sutil joined Williams, F.I would promote Hulkenburg, Kim’s chances of joining the F1 grid for 2012 would be over.

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