Will Gray

Gray Matter: Kimi’s comeback conundrum

Will Gray

View photo

.

Formula One was devoid of a 'silly season' this year until Renault's newfound form generated rumours of a return for Kimi Raikkonen - but why did it surface and how likely is it to happen?

This year's title battle is one of the most hotly contested of the year and all those involved in it will be thankful they have not had to cast one eye on their future as the front-running trio of Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren all had their seats tied up by mid-season at the latest.

Fourth-placed Mercedes, too, have long been locked-in with Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher, so that left Renault, who only have Robert Kubica confirmed for 2011, as the closest team to the front with a potentially open seat. And with the team still apparently under financial pressure, the potential for siphoning off Russian billions through Vitaly Petrov seemed inevitably hard to resist.

Not much excitement for those who enjoy the rumour mill, then.

But suddenly Kimi Raikkonen came back on the scene. The former Ferrari man is now with Citroen in the World Rally Championship but has been having a tough time proving he is as good as he thought on the slippery stuff and, it appears, all is forgiven in Formula One. The Finn is still unsigned in WRC for 2011 and he put the call in to Renault about a drive back in F1 this week - but at the same time admitted he expects to be competing in rallying again next year.

So does this confusing approach suggest he truly wants to find a way back or is someone somewhere playing a game with the rumour mill?

From Raikkonen's point of view, he is still in a good position in rallying. He has retained his 'super cool' reputation, despite wrecking a few cars this year, and he is in the right mould for Citroen sponsor Red Bull. He also fits the mould of Monster, the other energy drink brand interested in motorsport, and they sponsor Citroen's rivals Ford.

It is quite likely that Raikkonen is just trying to up his ante again, reminding everyone of his continued ability to generate publicity when his name pops up in F1 circles - and with the WRC still struggling to match the popularity of its more wealthy 'cousin' any help with PR is appealing to sponsors and teams.

If that is the case, however, Renault has handled it perfectly.

Petrov is still favourite for the Renault seat, but they will need more money fast if they are to keep up their relentless push to get back to the front in F1. So this could just be a way of getting the money needed to secure Petrov's future flowing quicker.

Alternatively, Adrian Sutil, Heikki Kovalainen and Roman Grosjean are also in the mix.

Kovalainen is a long-shot and Grosjean, now a valuable knowledge source having just been named as the Pirelli test driver developing the new F1 rubber for 2011, is already part of the stable so that knowledge will filter through whether he is racing or not. So neither of those are particularly likely candidates.

Perhaps then the Raikkonen rumour is designed to also stir Sutil into action, with the likely need for him to draw in more backing to go along with his serious driving talent.

Ultimately, though, the best solution is a top driver who brings in the money - so perhaps Raikkonen's approach is a serious one after all.

The Finn will not be cheap but if he does want to come back to F1 then it makes sense that he would get Renault to do his sponsor-hunting work for him.

By putting his name out there now and making it clear he is so serious he called them to ask about a drive, it could just stir up sponsor interest and if they can generate the same level of money Petrov could provide, everyone (except Petrov, who would no doubt end up as the test driver to still bring in some of the cash) is a winner.

Ultimately, Raikkonen's comeback will be down to money - so for the sake of Formula One, let's hope Renault finds some...

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so that everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Win cash in one day fantasy football contests. Join now!

    Learn how to play

    Contest Entries Entry Fee Prizes Starts (EDT)
    Premier League £1 Entry [Top Prize £30] 28/340 £1 £300 Tomorrow 3:00 PM Enter
    Premier League £5 Entry [Top Prize £50] 7/57 £5 £250 Tomorrow 3:00 PM Enter
    PL £1 Learn To Play [No Risk] 16/75 £1 £100 Tomorrow 3:00 PM Enter
    • Mkhitaryan sparkles as United reach Europa last 32

      Mkhitaryan sparkles as United reach Europa last 32

      By Toby Davis LONDON (Reuters) - Manchester United are warming to the task in the Europa League as they booked a spot in the last 32 with a 2-0 win over Zorya Luhansk on a freezing night in Ukraine on Thursday. Goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who made a mockery of his two-month exile from the starting lineup with a superb individual effort, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic secured an easy win that banished memories of their earlier group stage struggles. The victory confirmed United in second place in Group A behind Turkish side Fenerbahce who ended Feyenoord's qualification hopes with a 1-0 away win over the Dutch side. More »

      Reuters - 1 hour 51 minutes ago
    • Southampton crash out of Europa League despite late draw with Hapoel Be'er Sheva

      Southampton crash out of Europa League despite late draw with Hapoel Be'er Sheva

      Southampton were knocked out of the Europa League after Hapoel Be'er Sheva held them to a 1-1 draw at St Mary's on Thursday. More »

      Omnisport - 2 hours 16 minutes ago
    • A starting XI of the worst performers from the Champions League group stages

      A starting XI of the worst performers from the Champions League group stages

      The group stages of the 2016/17 Champions League have now finished and looking back, here we select a starting XI of players who had a campaign to forget. More »

      10 hours ago
    • Yahoo Daily Fantasy must-have selections for Gameweek 15

      Yahoo Daily Fantasy must-have selections for Gameweek 15

      Crystal Palace come up against relegation threatened Hull City this weekend and with confidence levels high after an impressive 3-0 victory over Southampton. The Saints have been comprehended this season for their resolute defending. In Jose Fonte and Virgil van Dijk, Benteke came up against one of the best central defensive partnerships in the Premier League and helped himself to a brace (kindly assisted for one of those by Fraser Forster). More »

      Yahoo Sport UK - 8 hours ago
    • Mourinho marvels at Mkhitaryan mentality after Zorya stunner

      Mourinho marvels at Mkhitaryan mentality after Zorya stunner

      Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored a fine goal as Manchester United beat Zorya in the Europa League and Jose Mourinho applauded the Armenian. More »

      Omnisport - 1 hour 48 minutes ago