Raikkonen ‘key’ to Qatar sponsor for Williams – report

Kimi Raikkonen

(GMM) Williams sees Kimi Raikkonen as the key to securing a major new sponsor, according to a Finnish newspaper.

The 2007 world champion recently visited the British team's headquarters, and rumors in Singapore said the parties are serious about potentially working together next season.

According to Ilta Sanomat newspaper, signing Raikkonen could secure the team the backing of the part state-owned Qatar National Bank.

Williams already has links with Qatar, including the Williams Technology Centre located in the Arab emirate.

The report said Sir Frank Williams has been trying "for several years" to sign the Qatari bank as a sponsor.

During his last grand prix as Williams' technical director in Singapore two weeks ago, Sam Michael was asked if the team is now taking its driver decisions on financial grounds.

"I think Williams will make the choices that are best for the company and the best results. That's what it will come down to," he said.

The Australian also hinted that Pastor Maldonado, strongly backed by Venezuela, is set to stay in 2012.

"You can definitely start to see the signs as to whether a rookie is capable or not by mid-season and I would definitely put Pastor Maldonado in that category," he said.

"And if he wasn't in that category, he wouldn't have kept his drive going forward. So I can see the guy having an even stronger year next year," added Michael.

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