Raikkonen Should Come Back To Formula One – Renault Isn’t Such A Raw Deal
Kimi Raikkonen has always been a whirlwind character, a proper playboy – the modern day James Hunt if you please. Back in 2001 he came out of nowehere to join Sauber, and immediately proved a quick racer. A few years with McLaren and those oh so nearly titles, led him to go off to Ferrari and take his first and only F1 crown in 2007. A tough 2008 and 2009 meant that he walked away from F1 to spend the current year in World Rally.
The World Rally experience has been very tough for the Finn, who only has a handful of finishes to his name let alone winning an event. Again, in the current French World Rally he crashed and went from 7th down to 50th place.
Since leaving, there has been massive speculation about him returning to Formula One. Initially with Red Bull, although now that looks unlikely as Webber and Vettel will be retained for next year. Some link Raikkonen with a return to Ferrari, to replace the underperforming Felipe Massa but the more likely scenario is that Raikkonen heads off to Renault.
Renault have been a resurgent force this season. The manufacturer sold out to Genii Capital Group following the crash gate saga, and with a new management, technical and driver team they have had some great results including podium finishes. Robert Kubica has proved a solid driver choice, although Vitaly Petrov less so. The rookie Russian has had sparks of brilliance, but all too often is off the pace or ending his races in the wall. In Singapore, he was slow and then crashed out in qualifying.
The problems with Petrov have caused him not to get a contract for next season just yet, with Renault boss Eric Boullier confirming they are talking to Raikkonen about a return to F1.
“It is definitely getting closer to when we will make a decision,” Boullier told Autosport. “But we really want to consider all of the options.
“I decided to tell some drivers that we will not carry on discussions with them, so we know wait and see – but Kimi remains one of our scenarios.
“I have said many times that I want to meet with him first before we do anything more. I want to understand more about his wish to come back.”
Like many drivers, Raikkonen has said that once he won the world championship there was little point in staying in F1. However, with his WRC career not looking good, and the 2011 cars appearing to take some adapting to, perhaps now is the right time for a come back. Renault might not have been his choice some seasons ago, but now it might not be such a raw deal. 2010 has proven they can design and produce a good car, even on a budget. With Raikkonen at the wheel there is no reason why it shouldn’t win races.
Kimi doesn’t need the money now, so it would probably best for him not to ask for a Ferrari level salary. It was assumed in 2008 he was paid some $52million by the Scuderia. Renault hold concerns over the possibly outlay on wages, however they should consider the amount of sponsorship and interest they could gain from having him on board. More sponsors could be attracted to the cars, and Raikkonen has a loyal band of supporters who would raid the merchandise section and give Renault a huge presence at the races.
I really do hope Kimi does return to F1, as that would make 2011 a truly thrilling prospect. Alonso, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Schumacher, Button as world champions – maybe a new one to add to that list but we won’t know until the end of the year! Add into that mix Vettel, Webber, Rosberg and Kubica and it looks like it could be a classic season.