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Haug's visit to see Raikkonen fires F1 rumors UPDATE #2 (GMM)  The signs are growing that Kimi Raikkonen will keep rallying next year rather than return to formula one. The 2007 world champion has been linked with both Renault and Mercedes for 2011, but reports on Thursday said Raikkonen, 30, is close to agreeing a new deal with the Red Bull-sponsored world rally team Citroen.  At the same time, Raikkonen's current co-driver Kaj Lindstrom has told Turun Sanomat newspaper that the Finn has all the necessary talents and "only lacks experience".  "The hard work is now beginning to pay off," he added.

07/14/10 The story about Haug's visit to Raikkonen, with whom he enjoyed a working relationship when Kimi drove for McLaren-Mercedes between 2002-6, was first printed by a Finnish newspaper but was confirmed to a TV station by Haug over the British GP weekend.

"I have been in contact with Kimi as a friend," Haug claimed. "Kimi will make a decision for himself but I do hope he comes back because it would be a good thing for F1."

Raikkonen was dropped by Ferrari in favor of Fernando Alonso and now drives for the Citroen Junior Team in the World Rally Championship. When he left F1 he said he had an open mind about a return but would only drive for a top line team.

Schumacher's performance level could well be raising concerns at Mercedes. While team mate Nico Rosberg scored his third podium of the season at Silverstone, Schumacher finished ninth after making a mistake on his 'out' lap following his pit stop and was a few tenths shy of his team mate's pace all weekend.. After 10 of the season's 19 races, Rosberg has scored 90 points and Schumacher, 36.

The rumor is that Mercedes is lining up replacements for Schumacher in 2011 should Schu decide to go back into retirement.  Open Wheel racing is a young man's game.  Unlike NASCAR and sports car racing where you can be competitive until you are 50, open wheel requires the reflexes of a young man.  As good as he was, at 41 Schumacher appears to be simply too old for F1.

07/09/10 (GMM)  Mercedes competition director Norbert Haug recently travelled to Kimi Raikkonen's home in Switzerland.

The visit triggered rumors, reported initially by the Finnish tabloid Iltalehti, that the 2007 world champion and current world rally championship driver might be negotiating his return to formula one.

Raikkonen's spokesman Riku Kuvaja responded by saying the situation for the 30-year-old former McLaren and Ferrari driver is "the same as before".

He would not confirm Haug's Swiss visit. zzzz

But at Silverstone on Friday, Haug himself confirmed the news but insisted their meeting was not about Raikkonen's future.

"I have been in contact with Kimi as a friend," said the German, who worked alongside Raikkonen between 2002-2006 at McLaren and was even a guest at the Finn's wedding.

As for Raikkonen's future, Haug said he has not discussed it with the rally driver.  "Kimi will make a decision for himself," he said on Friday, according to MTV3.

"I do hope he comes back, because it would be a good thing for F1," added Haug.

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