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Is Raikkonen really Williams-bound?

Despite the belief that it would never happen, Kimi Raikkonen could indeed be on his way to Williams for next season.
Rumours that former world champion Kimi Raikkonen could make a return to F1 with the Williams team appear to have gained strength since the Finn was spotted making a visit to Grove between the Belgian and Italian grands prix.

While the association was largely dismissed as unlikely at the time, neither side has taken time to comment either way, leading to increased speculation that the 31-year old could be a part of the Williams line-up, alongside Pastor Maldonado, in 2012.

Notorious for his dislike of debriefs and promotional activities, Raikkonen quit the top flight when Ferrari signed Fernando Alonso to replace him for 2010, and has spent the past two years campaigning a semi-works Citroen in the World Rally Championship, where he expected to 'have more fun'. However, a lack of results combined with the usual pressure of finding the finance to continue competing under his own ICE1 Racing banner, have seen Raikkonen's love affair with the category begin to wane - to the point where he was fined, and had his manufacturers' championship entry cancelled, for missing the recent Australian round - and led to him seeking alternatives for 2012 and beyond.

While a flirtation with NASCAR and a recent test with the Peugeot sportscar team suggested that he may be headed in either direction, Raikkonen's visit to Grove raised more than just eyebrows, amid disbelief that he may be considering joining a team at the 'wrong' end of the grid in a bid to restart his F1 career. The same questions regarding money and motivation remain [read story here], but sources claim that the pair are closing on a deal to bring Raikkonen back into the F1 fold next season.

Former ITV commentator James Allen points out that 'the timing is significant as Williams are on the look out for a bold move to boost the team', while suggesting that Raikkonen could be looking to use the team as a springboard to better things in the future, where 'the F1 driver landscape is likely to change....at the end of 2012 and a strong season, reminding everyone what he can do, might open some doors'.

With more recent competition action than Michael Schumacher had under his belt at the time of his return last season, Raikkonen should be able to get up to speed quicker than his former championship rival - only the Pirelli tyres will be significantly different to the Finn's previous spell in the top flight - while Williams are already putting the pieces in place as it attempts to claw its way out of the doldrums that have engulfed it in recent seasons.

Former Ferrari man Mike Coughlan, who replaces Sam Michael as technical director, is already familiar to Raikkonen from their time together at Maranello, while Mark Gillan and Jason Sommerville have also signed on in recent weeks, leaving the 2012 driver line-up as one of the bigger unresolved issues at Grove.

Veteran Rubens Barrichello is keen to stay on and prolong his record-breaking career, but Williams could decide to opt for a younger hand to partner the well-backed Maldonado. Both Bruno Senna and Adrian Sutil have been mentioned in regard to the second seat, but the former remains ensconced at Renault - at least until Robert Kubica's future is known - and the latter insists that he wants to remain at Force India, despite apparently also making a visit to Grove in recent weeks..

Taking Raikkonen over either Senna or Sutil would have its risks, not least financially as the younger men will both bring sponsors, but could reap dividends if he helps aid Williams' rise back up the constructors' standings and, as a consequence, makes the team more attractive to backers as a result.

Should the Finn sign on the dotted line, he would likely become the sixth world champion in the field next season, joining Schumacher, Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and McLaren duo Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton. This year's haul of five competing champions is the current high in the sports 61-year history.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
28.08.2011- Race, Rubens Barrichello (BRA), Williams FW33 and Pastor Maldonado (VEN), Williams FW33
09.09.2011- Friday Practice 1, Adrian Sutil (GER), Force India F1 Team, VJM04
23.09.2011- Friday Practice 1, Bruno Senna (BRA), Lotus Renault GP R31
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Kaj Lindstrom (FIN), Citroen DS3 WRC, ICE 1 Racing
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Kaj Lindstrom (FIN), Citroen DS3 WRC, ICE 1 Racing
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN), Citroen DS3 WRC, ICE 1 Racing
Sebastian Vettel in the F2012 during a day testing at Fiorano
Felipe Nasr (BRA) Williams Test and Reserve Driver.
26.11.2014.
Felipe Nasr (BRA), third driver, Williams F1 Team 
26.11.2014.
Felipe Nasr (BRA), third driver, Williams F1 Team 
26.11.2014.
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F14-T.
25.11.2014.
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F14-T.
25.11.2014.
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F14-T.
25.11.2014.
Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW36.
25.11.2014.
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F14-T.
25.11.2014.
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F14-T.
25.11.2014.
Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW36.
25.11.2014.
Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW36.
25.11.2014.

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Silver Scuderia - Unregistered

September 24, 2011 1:31 PM

Whether it will be good for Williams or not remains to be seen. But one thing is guaranteed - it will be good for the viewers! Ferrari made a massive mistake in backing Massa in 2008 at the advice of Schumacher despite Raikkonen being the fastest driver that season with 10 fastest laps. They then designed the dog that was the F60 to suit Massa's driving style. No wonder Raikkonen's motivation started to wane - what's a guy gotta do to get the backing of his team? Winning them the world championship not enough nowadays?

AWalker - Unregistered

September 24, 2011 12:43 PM

and Barrichello is such a good development driver? Mmmm - that Williams must be a real dog! Rubens is well past his sell-by date. Come back Kimi, all is forgiven - and let's have 6 world champions in F1 next year.



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