He may not be receiving much praise from his fellow F1 drivers just now, but under-fire Red Bull Racing star Sebastian Vettel has been labelled 'the nicest guy' on the grand prix grid by former world champion-turned-World Rally Championship convert Kimi Raikkonen.
Vettel has been slated by McLaren-Mercedes team principal Martin Whitmarsh for his 'habit of colliding with other drivers' and his 'junior formulae' error that removed Jenson Button from contention and quite possibly also from the title reckoning in last weekend's Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps [see separate story – click here
], with the defending F1 World Champion himself arguing that his young German rival 'has made too many mistakes this year to fight for the world championship' [see separate story – click here
However, Raikkonen – who only a matter of months ago was linked with partnering Vettel at Red Bull in 2011 – begs to differ, insisting that the 23-year-old can
still claim the coveted crown in F1 2010 and revealing that the Heppenheim native is to all intents and purposes the only driver from his erstwhile world with whom he still remains in touch.
“I have hardly any contact with the other drivers,” the 30-year-old Finn told spox.com
. “Sometimes I play badminton with Vettel – he's the nicest guy of them all.”
Whilst he has hinted on several occasions recently that F1 is now a closed book for him rather than the sabbatical that he had originally anticipated – reasoning that he 'loves' his new career in rallying with the Citroën Junior Team as it is 'very, very exciting and the biggest challenge of my career', and having taken his maiden stage victory on Rallye Deutschland just over a week ago – Raikkonen has since enigmatically persisted with his 'never-say-never' stance regarding an eventual return one day.
“In F1, there are too many things that are more important than the race” lamented the 18-time grand prix-winner. “It is too political and no-one says what they think because they're afraid about being taken out-of-context. I wouldn't say [I won't return, though]. First, let's take this season right to the end and then clarify some things. Then we'll see...”