Williams to confirm Raikkonen in Abu Dhabi?
3 November, 2011
Nov.1 (PVM) In the wake of Williams announcing a relatively simulator deal with Qatar-based Mowasalat, the word doing the rounds is that this is merely a prelude to a much bigger announcement set to be made by the team in Abu Dhabi which will also involve the return to Formula 1 of Kimi Raikkonen.
Finnish MTV, traditionally a well informed and reliable source on matters pertaining to Raikkonen, reported that Williams will announce the advent of a major new Qatari sponsor and confirm Raikkonen to drive alongside Pastor Maldonado in 2012.
It is believed that Williams have secured substantial backing from QND (Qatar National Bank) to be title sponsors. This coupled to the fact that Sir Frank Williams has secured Renault engines for the team in 2012 has been enough to lure Raikkonen back to F1.
In the late seventies Williams were the first team to tap into the lucrative Middle East sponsorship market and were backed by several major Saudi companies including: Saudia, Al Bilad bank, aviation services company Dallah Avco, travel agents Kanoo, the Bin Laden Group and TAG (Techniqeus d’ Avant Garde). From 1978 to 1983 Saudia Williams (and their Arab partners) notched up two Formula 1 world championship titles with Alan Jones in 1980 and Keke Rosberg in 1982.
Iceman, as Raikkonen is affectionately known by his fans, remains one of the most popular drivers and his presence on the grid would mean six F1 world champions will line-up on the grid in 2012.
Raikkonen and his management team have kept a low profile, and notably have not commented on the latest reports that emerged in force during the Indian GP weekend.
Williams have remained tight lipped, but chairman Adam Parr let slip in India, “Kimi has been one of the most competent drivers in the last few years and I think everyone would like to see him back in F1.”
With regards to returning to a team struggling at the wrong end of the grid, Raikkonen is quoted saying in various German media, “Of course you always want a winning car, but as we have seen this year, there is only one team that really has that.”
Which suggests that the Finn is prepared to give F1 another bash, and may even have support from long time backer Red Bull.
Respected F1 journalist Joe Saward wrote on his blog, “For Kimi there is little to lose. If things go badly the team can take the blame, but if the results are better this will reflect well on him.”
He added, “Negotiations over contracts will mean that Raikkonen will have to compromise on his normal level of earnings, but he is not short of money and a healthy bonus scheme would be a very good way to motivate him.”
When approached for comment a Williams spokesperson said: “There is no comment to be made on this.”
Raikkonen competed in 156 grands prix from 2001 to 2009 winning the 2007 Formula 1 world championship, amassing 18 wins, 62 podiums and 16 pole positions – his last win was at the 2009 Belgian GP and his last grand prix race was in Abu Dhabi in 2009. He drove for Sauber, McLaren and Ferrari.
Currently Raikkonen contests the World Rally Championship, but with moderate success. He has also recently dabbled in Nascar Truck racing and tested Peugeot’s Le Mans prototype.