Returning to the US this weekend for the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin Texas, Ferrari driver and former F1 world champion has once again states his hope that he'll be able to have a proper shot at comping in NASCAR once his GP days are over.
"I hope one day," Raikkonen told a sponsor event hosted by Shell Racing Thursday night. "Obviously I didn't know how it is, so when I came to US to do that, I was very pleasantly surprised by how nice and how fun it was.
"It's not easy, like any popular sport, but I really enjoyed the time," he added. "Hopefully I can do more of those and hopefully in the future, some Sprint Cup. We'll see what happens."
During his two-year sabbatical from F1, Raikkonen originally ran one race in the 2011 Camping World Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports and the following week went on to compete in a scratch entry in the Nationwide Series, both at the one-and-a-half-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina.
At the time, Raikkonen was already committed to competing in the FIA World Rally Championship, and the following year he secured a surprise full-time return to F1 competition with a race seat at Lotus. He's since gone back to Ferrari, the team with which he won the 2007 world championship, and has at least one more year to run on his contract before having to make any decisions about what he wants to do and where he wants to go next.
"I have a contract for next year and probably for one more year, but I'm not a young guy any more," said Raikkonen, who turned 35 last week. "I want to do something more with my life than just F1
"I will finish my [F1] career at Ferrari," he added. "I never lost the passion. I will stop the day when I feel I don't enjoy it any more."
But it seems that NASCAR is definitely among the possibilities for his next step after he quits Grand Prix racing, however, with evident good memories of that brief trial period three years ago.
"I really enjoyed things," he said of his initial brief experience in the US for which he praised the more relaxed atmosphere and "the different way of doing things" compared with F1. "I really enjoy the whole NASCAR thing ... It's just completely different and fun. It was a good experience."
Even the prospect of running ovals rather than more complex road and street course layouts appealed to the Finn: "It looks very easy, but it's not easy," he said. "You look at the circuits, it looks like an oval, but every corner is different. When you have a knowledge of that sport, you can be much stronger."
Whatever Raikkonen decides, it seems unlikely he'll be joined in the US by his current Ferrari team mate and fellow former champion Fernando Alonso, who has already announced that he's leaving the F1 team at the end of the current season but with his plans for 2015 yet to be announced.
"It doesn't come to my mind now," Alonso insisted when asked if NASCAR was a possibility. "I never watch it. It would be very difficult for me to do something very new."
He did admit to playing the PlayStation game version of NASCAR on occasion, however, with four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon apparently his preferred selection as avatar - so perhaps even Alonso might be lured stateside at some point.
"Who knows?" Alonso admitted. "You can never close the door to anything."
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