Should Raikkonen return to F1 with Williams?

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Kimi Raikkonen, Citroen, Rally Finland, 2011

Raikkonen's commitment to rallying has waned

Rumours continue to grow that Kimi Raikkonen is poised to make an F1 return with Williams in 2012.

The former world champion has lacked commitment to his rallying campaign this year.

Can he rediscover his form and return to his best with a comeback to Formula 1?


It’s not hard to see the attraction of an F1 return for Raikkonen. The 32-year-old has won 18 races and a world championship already.

As Michael Schumacher has shown, he could have a decade or more of racing ahead of him.

The prospect of having six world champions on the grid – something which has never been seen before – would be a marvellous boost for the sport.

And it could help rejuvenate Williams, one of F1’s most successful teams, who have endured their worst season ever this year. With a new engine deal in place and several key changes in their technical staff, the arrival of a former champion could mark the beginning of a turnaround for the team.


Raikkonen's last F1 start for Ferrari at Abu Dhabi in 2009

Given the manner in which Raikkonen left F1 at the end of 2009, and his patchy career since then, you have you question whether his heart is still in it.

In the space of two years Raikkonen went from winning the world championship to being dropped by Ferrari with a year left on his contract.

Having failed to get a full-time seat in the World Rally Championship for his second season, Raikkonen has pulled out of rallies at the slightest provocation.

He did not appear at the Australian event, not wanting to make the long journey, earning himself exclusion from the championship standings. That does not bode well as the 2012 F1 calendar is larger and has more far-flung venues than the WRC’s.

It is unlikely a comeback would be met with instant success. Williams have had a dreadful season this year with many retirements.

I say

F1 should have the best drivers and therefore of course I would like to see Raikkonen back.

Both driver and team are faded former champions and many of their fans would like to see them competing at the front again.

But Raikkonen must be realistic about what an F1 comeback with Williams is likely to involve. If he can’t face getting on a plane to Australia, grinding through a few hundred interviews and then retiring from the race on the first lap because his KERS has packed up, then he should sit tight.

You say

Do you think Kimi Raikkonen should return to F1 with Williams? Would he be successful? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Should Kimi Raikkonen return to F1 with Williams in 2012?

  • Yes (66%)
  • No (28%)
  • No opinion (6%)

Total Voters: 472

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173 comments on Should Raikkonen return to F1 with Williams?

  1. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 7th November 2011, 13:31

    There are already some positive sign from Williams,so far I guess next weekend I may near for a great Eid gift.

  2. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 7th November 2011, 13:36

    I don’t think it’s a wise idea, and for several reasons:

    1) The evolution of the sport
    Formula 1 has undergone some of its biggest changes since 2009. Ever snce Kimi left, we’ve seen the introduction of the F-duct and DRS, fuel-heavy cars and the Pirelli tyres. Take individually, each one of these fundamentally changes the handling of the car; combined, they have an exponential effect. Kimi will be like the kid in class who is an entire term behind in his homework – he’s got a lot of catching-up to do before he can even start to make inroads on car development. And despite what some of his fans will tell you, he’s not so talented that he will simply adapt to them in the course of a day, or even an entire testing session. If Raikkonen signs up for 2012, it’s probably going to take him months to get comfortable.

    2) His commitment is a serious issue
    Back in September, Raikkonen failed to show up to Rally Australia in Coffs Harbour, and for that, his team was excluded from the WRC standings for failing to meet their obligations. I can perhaps understand Raikkonen being unwilling to go to Australia and Argentina because of the distance and the costs involved, but soem of his more-recent performances are much harder to justify. For one, he retired from Rally France-Alsace in an utterly bizarre accident, hitting Henning Solberg on the liasion stage. From what I gather, his car was undamaged – it was merely immobilised. Raikkonen probably could have gotten it restarted and made it to the next passage control with only a minor time penalty. But instead, he decided to head home to Geneva within an hour of an accident. Likewise in Spain, where he retired early on and decided not to bother carrying on. We also saw it in Formula 1; when the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix was red-flagged, Raikkonen was out of the car and in the garage almsot straight away, while everyone else stayed out on-track in the hopes that the rain might back off and they could go racing again. This is bad news for his Formula 1 ambitions, particularly with Williams. The team is currently looking to be in very rought shape, with their worst season since their inception in 1978 (not counting the days of Frank Williams Racing Cars). They’re going to need a driver who is committed and dependable, and if Kimi simply phones it in as soon as things go off-script, all he’s going to do is waste everyone’s time. If I were in talks to sign Raikkonen for 2012, the first thing I’d say to him is “convince me that you’re committed to this”.

    3) Raikkonen and Williams want different things
    If Raikkonen races for Williams, then he probably only wants to do it for a year, sort of an audition for a seat with another team in 2013. The problem with this is that it takes a while for a driver’s influence to be felt within a team; Rubens Barrichello didn’t really start to make inroads into development at Williams until the end of the European season last year. If Raikkonen only wants to race for a year with Williams before packing his bags and moving on to greener pastures, it’s going to set their development schedule back two entire years – one year will be lost as Raikkonen settles in, and 2013 will be a write-off because whoever repalces him will need to settle in themselves. Williams, meanwhile, are in freefall – they’re currently ninth in the World Constructors’ Championship, and they really need to turn things around. They lost four sponsors at the end of last year, and while PDVSA has filled in the financial black hole a little bit, the FW33 is embarrassingly Spartan when it comes to sponsors. Raikkonen’s signing might bring the Qatar National Bank on-board, but if Williams don’t start reversing their fortunes soon, they may just wither and die. Can they really afford to sacrifice two years to cater to the whims of a driver who only intends to race for them for the minimum amount of time?

    4) Raikkonen isn’t nearly as important as his fans say
    To hear Raikkonen’s fans tell it, Kimi is one of the mot exciting drivers on the grid. And in some respects, they’re right; the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix will lkely go down in history as one of the great races. But Raikkonen is also very polarising – his loathing for PR work, his unwillingness to speak to the media, and his general demeanor make him very isolationist. It’s difficult to like him. But to hear some of his fans tell it, Raikkonen is the best thing that happened to the sport: exciting, fresh, and all those other adjectives that MTV hosts will use to describe trendy new acts. But he isn’t – he’s popular, yes, but the grid has hardly suffered in his absence. We have five current and former World Champions on the grid, and while six would indeed by nice, Raikkonen doesn’t really bring anything to the table that nobody else has (except for maybe a liking for vodka and ice cream). He’s not the be-all and end-all, no matter what his most die-hard (read: militant) fans will say. What’s more, I sometimes feel that they can make life difficult for other, non-Raikkonen fans with their insistence that he really is that good.

    In short, I think Williams would be better off keeping Rubens Barrichello, making a play for Adrian Sutil, or assessing some of the upcoming young talent. Charles Pic and Robert Wickens are two drivers who have achieved all that they are going to achieve in the junior categories, and I think they are ready to step up. Pic in particular would be good for Williams because of his connections to Renault (likewise Romain Grosjean – but Grosjean had his chance in Formula 1, so I think Pic is the more attractive and more viable option). Right now, I just can’t shake the feeling that Williams hiring Kimi Raikkonen would be the same as Tony Fernandes keeping Jarno Trulli: a waste of an otherwise perfectly-good seat.

    • It is precisely because he hates the media and PR work that I, and I expect many others like Kimi Raikkonen, he was there purely to drive the cars and cut out all the media rubbish that gets foisted upon F1 drivers. He drove averagely in ’08 but the back end of 2009 he was really good, as proved by an established driver like Fisichella finding the car incredibly difficult to drive.

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 7th November 2011, 13:53

        This is precisely what I’m talking about with the final point – Kimi’s unwillingness to do what is expected of every driver is presented as proof of his talent and commitment.

        Even if Raikkonen doesn’t like doing PR work in order to focus on his racecraft, you still haven’t addressed any of the other issues he faces in a potential return: question marks hanging over his commitment, the way he and Williams want two completely different and incompatible things from 2012, and the yawning chasm that stands between him and the rest of the grid because of the post-2009 regulation changes.

        • I posted a longer comment further down in this section. My point was mainly that a lot of the stuff F1 drivers are expected to do out of the car is a grind, and a lot of people would get fed up with some of the pointless, stupid questions interviewers sometimes ask. If you ask a stupid question, why should Raikkonen or anyone else for that matter give an erudite response. Mika Hakkinen used to do the same thing, and there’s been stuff in the news this year about Hamilton being fed up with it too.

          I liked Raikkonen lack of pretence of interest towards PR and the media, you clearly didn’t so we’ll have to agree to disagree.

          I don’t buy the lack of commitment issue, if he wants to come back he must be serious and regret leaving in the first place as he must realise his stock has fallen considerably with some fans of the sport. Coming back and then moaning about long distance races and the such like would finish his F1, and probably his motor racing career for good.

          The comparison with Trulli doesn’t stand up very well either, Trulli has never ever been anything better than a solid midfield driver at best, whereas Raikkonen was one of the top three drivers in F1 for a good five or six year period.

          I don’t really think the refuelling ban would be anywhere near as significant as the change to Pirelli tyres for a world class driver in F1. The tyres could be an issue no-one really knows but Raikkonen on ability alone deserves a seat in Formula One. I would give him the opportunity to show what he can do, if it works out then Williams will have one of the quickest drivers in the last decade of F1 in their car.

          The aero setup of the cars is not that different to ’09, nowhere near as drastic as the changes Schumacher had to return to from ’06 to 2010 either, and DRS is a case of pushing a button and adjusting your braking point accordingly. He dealt with KERS fine in ’09, I can’t see it being an issue.

          His adaptation to the tyres will be key if he comes back, I think (and hope) as his fan he can show he still has it.

          • And also I never said his dislike of the the media proved his talent and his commitment, it doesn’t not all. I said that was why I liked him, along with the fact he was a very quick, exciting driver.

    • AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 7th November 2011, 13:57

      As comprehensive as this essay is, I think I’ll disagree a little:

      1) New drivers come in and learn all the time, and with his experience it should take him less time. And even if it takes a couple of races to get the best out of himself and the car, so what? It’s not like they’ll be challenging for the title.

      2) I partly agree, although given the fact that he is talking to Williams, Raikkonen is at least motivated enough to give it a try, even if he may not know himself if he still wants to be racing by the end of the year.

      3) Even as an audition for a Red Bull drive, he still has to deliver, and if he does then great for him, the fans, and Williams. And I don’t buy into the driver-led-development theory. I’m with Peter Windsor on this one, who says engineers just want a driver who can show them how fast their car can go, especially in this day and age with so much data and computing power available.

      4) His perceived importance is not that relevant; Raikkonen and Williams won’t be doing this for the good of the sport, although of course he does need to be polite to the media and the sponsors.

      On the whole, I say: give it a go. I’d like to see what he and Williams can do next year.

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 8th November 2011, 15:19

      Well, to her you tell it, at least we will have someone making enough of an impact in the media/internet to drown out some of the attention for Lewis; Button will like it :-)

      I have to agree for the most part with @adrianmorse. I also have to add that Raikkonen was great with the 2005 Michelin tyres, as far as I can recall – they aren’t the same as pirelli, but getting heat in them and making them last the race was important too/

      Let’s see how fast he can adapt and what he can do with the 2012 Williams car. It will surely generate more publicity for Williams in the mainstream media, and has more of a chance to be about impressive things rather than just another disappointing race, every single time.

  3. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 7th November 2011, 13:41

    Also, has anybody else notice this?

    Kimi Raikkonen

    Kelsey Grammer

    And the similarities don’t just end there:

    Rubens Barrichello

    David Hyde Piece


  4. As Keith himself said

    “Both driver and team are faded former champions and many of their fans would like to see them competing at the front again.”

    Call the fans hypocrite or whatever…. I would love to see him again ….
    But what if he return and after a year he gets a call from one one the front running teams to drive for them…will he ditch Williams … in the past he has done whats best for him!!! :D

  5. mrgrieves (@mrgrieves) said on 7th November 2011, 13:42

    I would love to see the real Kimi Raikkonen pre 2007 back in F1, However in reality im saying no he should not.

    My first reason is that nobody, even Lauda winning the championship in 1984 has returned after being away for over a season and been as good as they were before. Adding that fact to how Kimi’s mojo and commitment to anything has been in decline since his championship and running about outside the top 10 going by current form wont do much to encourage him to stay around so i can see it being a short relationship if it ever comes to that.

  6. dirgegirl (@dirgegirl) said on 7th November 2011, 13:43

    For me the question is – will Raikkonen help Williams develop their car? I’d love to see them rise to the top again.

    If he can help improve the car and show some commitment, cool, although he’s not a favourite of mine.

    If not, then I’d rather see someone new in F1.

  7. Dave (@davea86) said on 7th November 2011, 13:43

    I’d love to see Kimi back. Having 6 world champions would have make 2012 the strongest grid in the history of the sport.

    This year’s Italian GP was the first time that the top 5 places at the end of a race were occupied by world champions. Since the beginning of 2010 there has been one occasion where the top 4 finishers were champs and I believe 4 occasions where the top 3 were champs. Add Kimi and a quicker Williams next year and the top 6 places could have 14 world championships between them.

    Stats aside, on his day Kimi is a genuinely quick driver and deserves to be on the grid.

  8. Eternal Newbie said on 7th November 2011, 13:45

    I do not know how it would go, iwheter he would really commit, and wheter the Williams machine will be able to compete.

    But I would love to see him back. In over 40 years watching F1 nobody has made me happier than Kimi winning the race and WDC at Interlagos 2007. Taking it away from McL I mean.

  9. Who cares what Kimi said in the past about being in F1? Is it just the rest of us who are allowed to change our minds?

    If he is interested in talking about it he must be interested in racing, 2 years is a long time to reflect.
    I think he could be a breath of fresh air at Williams, i doubt he has too many expectations apart from showing he can still wring the best out of any car, still has race pace, plus he knows what the PR peope expect. Kimi surely knows as well as i do that Williams do not treat world champions as fragile prima donnas.

    As for Kimi not saying too much, Frank Williams is hardly motor mouth.
    I can picture Patrick Head dreaming of becoming a behind the scenes Kimi mentor…..c’mon Kimi, get back to F1 and make these grumpy old men happy again

  10. Spawinte (@spawinte) said on 7th November 2011, 13:52

    I don’t dislike Kimi it’s just that his attitude makes me not care about him very much. Driving in F1 should be an honour for any serious circuit racer but seemingly not for Kimi. I sense a lack of respect from him for the sport and his competitors.

    It’s bad enough having a load of smelly old men (I joke) taking up seats that could be going to fiery new talent without a guy who doesn’t seem to care that much either way.

  11. ECWDanSelby (@ecwdanselby) said on 7th November 2011, 13:54

    The way I see it as well is that yes, the game has changed, but it’s still a single-seater Formula One car, something he is more familiar with (and pretty good with..) than rally/trucks.

  12. A few people seem to think that Raikkonen doesn’t realise the Williams will not be competing for race wins next year. Webber’s contract expires at the end of next year, as does Hamilton’s. He is therefore probably looking to prove his commitment in a midfield car and show he still has it, get that Williams further up the field and use it as a springboard to a better drive in 2013 (if the rumours are true about him wanting to come back)

    The comparison with his lack of commitment to WRC is not that valid in my opinion, I think he came to realise fairly quickly that no matter how well he does or hard he tries he is never going to be beating Loeb, Hirvonen, Solberg, Ogier, Latvala etc. on a regular basis if at all because they have been rallying their whole lives. He has however shown in the past he can compete with the best in Formula 1. He is still a young man, and a motivated, hungry Kimi Raikkonen can compete with any current driver in the field, including Vettel, Alonso, Button and Hamilton.

    As I have just been defending him I sincerely hope if he does come back he doesn’t make me look like a fool by living up to the stereotype his detractors have of him, lazy and uncommitted. I would still like to see him back just to see if he still has it, and hopefully I won’t be proved wrong!

  13. I’d much rather see Raikkonen in the Williams seat than Maldonado, and maybe even Rubens.

    Stick the Pastor in the reserve driver seat so that Williams still get all his cartel sponsorship money, and have Raikkonen in the number 1 car spearheading the assault.

    Rubens can do what he does best and take the number 2 role.

  14. d3v0 (@d3v0) said on 7th November 2011, 14:22

    As a fan of formula 1, I want to see him.

    As someone who loves and cherishes Williams, I would hate to see them blow their new sponsorship deal money (if they secure it) on Kimi if he pulls the same crap he does in WRC or F1, aka not giving 100% effort. Rubinho would give 100% effort and likely still be slower than Kimi outright, but would cost alot less.

    I think from Williams’ point of view, they need a spark. And this would do it.

  15. mrjlr93 (@mrjlr93) said on 7th November 2011, 14:23

    I think if Kimi returns it would be great for the sport and also he will be driving with an iconic team in William-Renault which would make it even more special. I dont understand why people complain about him not wanting to do any PR work, he is a racing driver who wants to drive not somebody who wants to be talking to the media every 5 seconds. If i was Kimi i would feel the same way about PR work.

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