Raikkonen to return to F1 in 2011 UPDATE #4 (GMM) Kimi Raikkonen's manager has refused to rule out the prospect of the 2007 world champion returning to formula one.
When Ferrari ended its contract with the 30-year-old Finn one year early, Raikkonen signed up with Red Bull sponsorship to race a Citroen full-time in the 2010 world rally championship.
|Kimi Raikkonen in his Rally Car with his navigator|
It had been rumored that a return to F1 with Red Bull Racing in 2011 was a possibility, but the energy drinks-owned team is now expected to renew on-form Mark Webber's contract for another season.
"Kimi has committed himself to rallying and he seems to be enjoying that environment," team boss Christian Horner said in Turkey last weekend.
However, Finland's Turun Sanomat reports that it was Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko most interested in replacing Australian Webber with Raikkonen.
Manager Steve Robertson said he is not sure what Raikkonen is going to do in 2011.
"We have not had any discussions in any direction for next season," he said. "There will be a time when Kimi will think about what he wants to do."
When asked if Raikkonen's F1 career is over, Robertson answered: "Never say never."04/04/10 (GMM) Kimi Raikkonen has played down speculation he is eyeing a return to formula one for the 2011 season.
After a tough start to his switch to world rallying this year, the 30-year-old Finn scored his first points in this weekend's Jordan Rally.
But, due to his existing contractual relationship with Citroen sponsor Red Bull, recent reports have linked him with replacing Mark Webber to be Sebastian Vettel's 2011 teammate.
"The way I see it is that for now I'm a rally driver, so I'm not thinking about the past or the future, even though people keep asking me," the 2007 world champion said.
"At some point I need to take a decision about what I do next, but that won't be until the second half of the year at the earliest," he said on the official WRC website.
"Everything is possible, but I need to know how I will get on in rallying before I take any decisions. For now I have only just started and so far I am really enjoying myself," added Raikkonen.
He insists he is not missing F1, and revealed that he was not even aware that Sepang is hosting this weekend's third round of the championship.
"Somebody actually pointed out to me earlier that it was the Malaysian grand prix this weekend; I hadn't even realized until it was mentioned," he said. 0328/10 (GMM) Kimi Raikkonen is set to replace Red Bull's Mark Webber ahead of the 2011 season.
A report in Germany's Bild am Sonntag said the return of the Finn to formula one, to become his friend Sebastian Vettel's teammate, is already being arranged.
Raikkonen, 30, is already under contract to the energy drinks company, having switched from Ferrari to world rallying for 2010 with the Red Bull-funded Citroen Junior Team.
RBR team boss Christian Horner recently admitted that hiring Raikkonen for 2011 is an "interesting idea", and speculation about Webber's expiring contract was re-fired this weekend when Lewis Hamilton tipped the Australian to retire.
Horner said on Saturday: "We are very happy with our drivers. Mark is driving very well, and he is not old, as Michael has demonstrated.
"The average age (of F1 drivers) has dropped, but as long as Mark is motivated, competitive and quick, I don't think that he has any thoughts of stopping just yet."
Vettel told Bild am Sonntag: "Kimi and I are good friends, but in the end I don't care who sits in the other car because I still have to beat him."
He would not confirm that the Raikkonen deal is close to being finalized.
"I don't know what the team is planning. And in the end, it is of course Kimi's decision. He needs to see how he feels." 03/01/10 (GMM) Red Bull mogul Dietrich Mateschitz on Monday played down rumors Kimi Raikkonen could return to F1 with the brand's premier team next year.
After ending his contract with Ferrari last year, 2007 world champion Raikkonen elected to switch to the world rally championship with Citroen, but is now sponsored and paid by Red Bull.
It sparked reports that the Finn could be drafted in to become Sebastian Vettel's teammate in 2011.
"This is pure speculation, nothing more," Mateschitz, the owner of both Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso, told the Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten.
"We do not know what Kimi wants and will do in a year. We have a close relationship and this opens up speculation," the Austrian billionaire, who is 65, said.
"But to say that Raikkonen drives in F1 for us in 2011 is dishonest."
The reports have suggested that, should 18-GP winner Raikkonen return to F1 with Red Bull, it would be the Australian Webber - who is out of contract at the end of this year - who would make way.
Mateschitz said: "If Webber is fast and sufficiently motivated, we cannot thank him for top performance by giving Raikkonen his cockpit."01/04/10 (GMM) Dr Helmut Marko has dismissed as "pure rumor" suggestions that Kimi Raikkonen is set to return to F1 with Red Bull next year.
With the backing of the energy drinks company, former Ferrari driver Raikkonen will contest the full WRC championship this season at the wheel of a works Citroen C4.
It has been speculated that the 30-year-old Finn's deal is a precursor to his move back to formula one in the place of Mark Webber in 2011.
"That is a pure rumor," Marko, Red Bull's motor sport consultant, told the Austrian sports website laola1.at.
"Raikkonen is going to drive the rallies in 2010, and what happens after that, we will see," he added.