Rally switch for Raikkonen 'more than rumor' UPDATE #3 (GMM) Kimi Raikkonen has now signed a contract to drive full time in next year's World Rally Championship with a Citroen C4, according to specialist reports in Finland.
The news was reported by the well-connected Finnish broadcaster MTV3, citing a source close to the former Ferrari driver.
|Kimi Raikkonen in his rally debut earlier this year|
But the 2007 world champion's spokesman Riku Kuvaja said "no decisions one way or another" have been taken, adding that "all options remain on the table".
Reportedly among 30-year-old's options are going rallying, signing with Mercedes GP and remaining in formula one, or taking a sabbatical. 11/30/09 (GMM) Kimi Raikkonen's likely switch from formula one to the World Rally Championship with Citroen in 2010 is moving ever closer.
The French marque's rally boss Olivier Quesnel said in an interview at the weekend that the reports about the 30-year-old's rally plans for next year are inspired by "more than a rumor".
"It is not signed and I have never even spoken with Raikkonen on the telephone," Quesnel told Radio-France. "But it is more than a rumor; it is a real possibility."
He added that the former Ferrari driver is an "incredible driver" who "did not become world champion by accident" in 2007.
Referring to the Finn's world rally debut in his native country earlier this year, Quesnel continued: "What he did there in a S2000 was amazing."
Quesnel revealed that Raikkonen would not race alongside Sebastien Loeb in the official Citroen team, but instead "in the junior team", albeit reportedly with a full specification C4.11/28/09 Formula 1 star Kimi Raikkonen is understood to be ready to sign a deal with Citroen to drive a C4 World Rally Car on all 13 rounds of the 2010 World Rally Championship.
Nothing is signed yet, but a source close to the 2007 F1 World Champion told wrc.com that only small details needed to be tied-up before an official announcement is made in the coming days.
The Finn's 2010 WRC program is understood to have been funded by Red Bull, one of Raikkonen's personal sponsors, and a major backer of Citroen's World Rally campaign.
Long time rally fan Raikkonen is able to tackle the World Rally Championship season thanks to his decision to take a one year sabbatical from Formula 1.
Raikkonen's only WRC experience to date came on this year's Rally Finland, where he impressed in an Abarth Grande Punto S2000. Despite engine problems he was placed 15th overall when he crashed his car into a ditch on the second day.
If Raikkonen does make the switch to Citroen power for 2010, he'll be in good company. Six-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb has won 26 rallies in the C4 and recently admitted it was his favorite competition car of all time. WRC.com11/27/09 (GMM) Kimi Raikkonen is close to finalizing his switch from formula one to a full time ride in the 2010 World Rally Championship.
The series' official website wrc.com said the 30-year-old Finn "is understood to be ready to sign a deal" with Citroen to contest "all 13 rounds" of next year's calendar with Red Bull funding.
The report cited a source close to the former Ferrari driver as confirming that an official announcement is expected in the coming days after "small details" are tied up.