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The 2007 Formula 1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen is making a comeback to the sport after a two-year break.
However, its not like he was sitting at home doing nothing for the last two years. Raikkonen dabbled in WRC rallying, and also tried his luck in the NASCAR Truck Series. But it’s F1 where his star shined the brightest, where he had won 18 races and 62 podiums while racing for McLaren and Ferrari. His only championship win came at the wheel of a Ferrari.
Raikkonen’s return to F1 was in the rumor-mill for several months, but many speculated that he will drive for Williams. But the 32-year old from Finland will return with Lotus GP (known as Lotus-Renault GP for the 2011 season). On this occasion, Raikkonen commented: “My hunger for F1 has recently become overwhelming. It was an easy choice to return with Lotus GP.”
Raikkonen who first entered F1 in 2001 with Sauber, raised many eyebrows in the paddock when he scored a point in his debut race. He moved to McLaren a year later.
Will Raikkonen’s return be heroic or will he suffer from the same fate Michael Schumacher has been dealing with during his comeback? Only time will tell.
Kimi Raikkonen struggled to a 27th place on his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Raikkonen, driving the #87 NEMCO Motorsports Toyota prepared by Kyle Busch Motorsports, suffered a pit road penalty and damage to the front of his car, dropping from 15th to 27th place.
The iceman enjoyed a great run in practice on Thursday and set some competitive lap times. He felt much more comfortable ahead of the race than a week ago when he made his NASCAR debut in the Truck Series.
Raikkonen qualified 22nd despite skimming the wall on his first flying lap, he made early progress despite not being happy with his car’s balance.
“It was nice in the beginning and I could overtake on the restart and it felt really good when [the car] turned,” said Raikkonen. “Then it really it turned out to be really bad, the handling. Just because I couldn’t even get the car in, even I felt I had to stop in the corner and it was just pushing all the time.
Raikkinen also faced heat issues early in the race. He complained that his feet were getting very hot. NASCAR drivers wear heat-isolating heel protectors over their racing shoes, but Raikkinen said he did not wear them because he did not have any issues last week in the Truck race.
Raikkonen is planning to return to Europe to compete in the Rally Acropolis in Greece next month. He is unsure if he will be travelling back to the US for a possible NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut next month.
Former F1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen will join NASCAR, in a surprise move, a departure from his previous endeavors in Formula 1 and rally racing.
A Finnish newspaper, cited by Autosport, claims that Raikkonen will start out in the Truck series before moving on to both the Nationwide and Sprint cup car series. No start date has been announced, but Raikkonen is expected to join sometime in the summer.
The Finn will be part of the newly formed ICE1 Racing, owned by Foster Gillet. Gillet had previously partnered with Richard Petty Motorsport, and the Gillet family has had previous ownership of the Montreal Canadiens hockey team, as well as the Liverpool F.C. soccer team.
Kimi will finish up his World Rally Championship season as part of his contract, and is scheduled to compete in 8 events throughout the season.