x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Kimi Raikkonen quells rift rumours with Lotus F1 team

The Finn has been refused permission by Eric Boullier to race in his home rally, given that the English-based marque lost Robert Kubica to a long-term injury following a rally accident last year.

Kimi Raikkonen, the Lotus F1 driver, competed for Citroen Junior Team in the 2010 World Rally Championship. Mark Thompson / Getty Images
Kimi Raikkonen, the Lotus F1 driver, competed for Citroen Junior Team in the 2010 World Rally Championship. Mark Thompson / Getty Images

MONTREAL // Kimi Raikkonen has played down speculation he is embroiled in a feud with his Lotus-F1 team after Eric Boullier, the team principal, refused to allow the Finnish driver permission to compete in his home rally.

Raikkonen, 32, returned to Formula One this season after a two-year hiatus in which he spent time exploring different race series, including the World Rally Championship and Nascar. In 2009, while with Ferrari, he had competed in Rally Finland during F1's mid-season August break and in recent weeks he had made it known he would like Lotus to allow him to do so again this year.

However, with the Oxfordshire-based team having already lost former driver Robert Kubica to long-term injury following a rally accident, Lotus refused Raikkonen the opportunity, sparking speculation the enigmatic Finn was frustrated with his new team. Speaking to The National, Raikkonen has dismissed such claims.

"I wish I could, of course, but it's not like there is a fight between us," he said. "I know the rules, so it's not like it's unexpected. The whole story came up because somebody asked if I would like to. Of course, I would like to, but I know what the rules are of my contract and how things stand.

"It would be nice to compete because it's my home rally and I know the track and the roads, but I understand completely their position because of what happened in the past. It would be OK for them to let me do it, but then if something were to happen, they would look very bad."

Raikkonen said he still intends to compete in rally in the future, but will likely stick to jet skis and moto-cross during this season's summer break.

"I definitely want to do rally," he said. "I have done it in the past and I will do it again some stage in the future when I can. I enjoy the challenge and the rally itself is completely different; a very difficult sport and one day I will do more and, hopefully, get better."

In 2010, Raikkonen competed in WRC driving for Citroen Junior Team. He took part in 11 races, retiring three times. His highest finish came at Rally Turkey, where he placed fifth.

The following season, he raced under the team name Ice 1 Racing, but his results did not improve and he was forced to retire from the final three races of the 2011 season.

 

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

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