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[NEWS] Opinion: Raikkonen's post-F1 rallying call

Opinion: Raikkonen's post-F1 rallying call

99 Kimi raikonnen rallying

Could retiring, media-shy Finnish single-seater ace return to the stages?

In Formula 1, Kimi is finis, with the recent announcement that Räikkönen will retire at the end of this season. Typically, he says he won’t miss it. But listen between the sound bites and he isn’t ruling out a return to rallying, in which he drove with Citroën from 2010 to 2011. On both those occasions, he ended up 10th in the championship.

How good was Räikkönen at rallying? The short answer is very good; the results never told the full story. With more time in the car, he could have been right up there.

But I would say that, because I was Räikkönen’s PR at the time, a role described by some people as being like that of head butcher at the Vegan Society. Except the reality was very different, as he showed another side to the sometimes publicity-shy individual who lit up Formula 1. “Whatever you say, the media will twist it so you end up saying what they want you to say,” he explained famously. “It’s best to say nothing.”

Now it’s no longer his problem. Räikkönen has been offered a test in the all-conquering Toyota Yaris WRC, but it’s unlikely you’ll find him doing a full championship campaign – although he always said that if he ever won the World Rally Championship, it would mean more to him than his 2007 Formula 1 title.

Instead, Räikkönen is much more likely to go rallying for fun occasionally: a bit like he did when he was driving for Ferrari and was sometimes seen out in his Abarth Grande Punto Super 2000, complete with ‘Iceman’ colour scheme.

Now that he doesn’t have to drive the company Fiat any more, what would appeal to him are the big adventures: events such as the Safari, the Arctic Rally, perhaps even the Dakar. He’d probably love to sample the classic cars, too: machinery like the MkII Ford Escort or Impreza WRC – although there is nothing set in stone.

“No plans for now, but I don’t want a schedule,” he says. “Last time I did rallying, there was always a schedule. I don’t want that. I’m not in a rush.”

Luckily for someone who often likes to pass unnoticed, there’s a tradition of drivers using pseudonyms in rallying – as Räikkönen has done when entering powerboat races in the past, borrowing the identity of his favourite Formula 1 driver. If you see ‘James Hunt’ on the entry list of a rally next year, you’ll know who it is...

How it works: F1's penalty points system

Along with his three-place grid penalty for the Russian GP, Max Verstappen also earned himself two driver penalty points for the Monza clash with Lewis Hamilton. The system works much like the one we all face for our conduct on the public road. Drivers accumulate points for a list of offences dictated by the FIA and can earn them on top of sanctions such as grid drops or race time additions.

Tot up 12 on the road and you face a driving ban. Likewise, in F1 the same number of points means a ban, but for one race rather than anything stretching on for longer. Verstappen used to have a bad reputation for picking up the points nobody wants, but these days he’s cleaned up his act.The two from Monza were his first of the season, so he’s a long way from a ban. Plus each driver’s tally is reduced with good behaviour over 12 months, and as yet no F1 driver has made it to the dreaded dozen.

Motorsport greats: Gordon Spice

Gordon Spice, the archetype of how amateurs used to race against and beat the pros in the 1970s and ’80s, died recently at 81 after a long illness. Spice was a serial winner in saloons and sports cars while juggling his businesses, which included a leading car accessories firm.

Spice raced in Formula 5000 but found a greater affinity with saloons, claiming seven British Saloon Car Championship class titles, including six in a row driving Ford Capris from 1975 to 1980, and won the Spa 24 Hours in 1978. In the 1980s, he turned to sports cars, establishing Spice Engineering as the leading constructor of Group C2 racers. A veteran of 14 starts at Le Mans, he twice finished third overall and scored a hat-trick of C2 wins with Ray Bellm. Off the track, Spice was renowned for his flat-out attitude to life, for the twinkle in his eye and as one of racing’s best-loved bon viveurs.

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