Former F1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen has revealed that despite some initial uncertainty, he ended up not missing life on the grand prix grid 'at all' last season – and he admits that his maiden campaign of rallying in the World Rally Championship (WRC) brought back memories of 'the very first years when I was starting out in racing'.
Raikkonen quit F1 at the end of 2009 – having been released and paid off by Ferrari and after failing to come to financial terms to rejoin forces with erstwhile employer McLaren-Mercedes – and jumped ship to the WRC to indulge his second love of rallying with Citroën's Junior Team.
It has been, quite literally, a rocky road for the Finn at times, with the inevitable learning pains resulting in just tenth spot in the final drivers' standings with a best finish of fifth place in Turkey along the way. Despite that and the fact that for a while in 2010, he was strongly linked with making an F1 comeback with Renault this year, the 18-time grand prix-winner is adamant that he has absolutely no regrets.
“Of course I thought about it, because you think about everything,” Raikkonen told the official WRC website when asked if he had genuinely contemplated a return to the top flight, “but I never really thought seriously about it, because actually I didn't miss F1 at all. Before the start of this year I thought it would be interesting to see if I missed it at all, and in fact I didn't.”
Of more concern currently, of course, is whether the 'Ice Man' will even continue to compete in 2011 following the sad and sudden death of his father Matti shortly before Christmas – a development that has reportedly caused Raikkonen to re-evaluate his plans for the coming year and thrown his immediate future into some doubt.
He has been linked to an extended stay with the Citroën Junior Team to drive one of the all-new DS3 WRCs, and is also understood to be being courted by both the new Prodrive-run Mini effort and the Monster World Rally Team. Whilst that situation remains up-in-the-air, the 31-year-old reflected upon his 'rookie' experiences in 2010.
“On balance, it's been pretty much as I expected,” he mused. “There have been good bits and bad bits, and on the whole it's been really tough with a lot of learning. In some ways, it reminds me of the very first years when I was starting out in racing – it was a little bit the same feeling.”