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Citroën boss hopes Raikkonen rally switch is permanent

Citroën Total World Rally Team boss Olivier Quesnel hopes 2007 F1 World Rally Champion Kimi Raikkonen makes such a strong impression in his first season in the World Rally Championship (WRC) in 2010 that he decides to stay in 2011 - possibly as team-mate to Sébastien Loeb...
For all of Kimi Raikkonen's fans hoping the 2007 F1 World Champion will be absent from the grand prix grid for just a single year, his new employer's words will provide little comfort – as Olivier Quesnel suggested the Finn's World Rally Championship (WRC) switch is far from merely a stop-gap measure.

Upon confirming that he intended to take a sabbatical from the top flight following a breakdown in negotiations with McLaren-Mercedes, Raikkonen made clear that the likely intention would be to return to F1 in 2011 – quite possibly, his manager Steve Robertson let it be known, with Red Bull Racing.

However, there are some in the paddock surmising that the 18-time grand prix-winner is now gone for good after just nine seasons at the highest level – and Quesnel, boss of the Citroën Total World Rally Team for whose 'junior' division Raikkonen will compete in the WRC next year alongside former Junior World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier [see separate story – click here], has hinted that he hopes the change of discipline will become a full-time one.

“We are not asking for the impossible for a first season,” the Frenchman told Auto Hebdo, “but it is clear that if he progresses and shows the right level, then he could slot into the first team [in 2011].”

Quesnel added that should Raikkonen not enjoy rallying or achieve the success he expects there, 'maybe he returns to F1'.

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December 08, 2009 1:36 PM

I think Kimi will get more pleasure and fulfillment from rallying than he gets from F1, with all its associated scandal and bullsh*t. I hope so anyway, and I hope he does well. Be good if he could shake up the established order in WRC. Good luck for 2010 Kimi.

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