Berthold Bouman, F1 Correspondent
Kimi Raikkonen today admitted he is in talks with Williams for a possible return to the sport in 2012. The 2007 Formula One World Champion has been tipped to make a return ever since he left Formula One at the end of 2009, earlier this week Toto Wollf co-owner of the Williams team already confirmed there were ‘serious’ talks with the Finn, but also hinted they were also interested in Adrian Sutil and Ferrari protégé Jules Bianchi.
"The Kimi Raikkonen file is on the table”, Wollf said last week. “The story is not for show, we are negotiating seriously, but it is only one of several options. There will be a strategic decision," said Wollf.
Ahead of the last round of the World Rally Championship (WRC) in Wales, Finland's Turun Sanomat quoted Raikkonen saying, “We have been talking with them, but I do not have any agreement in any direction.” Asked whether he had already made plans for next year he insisted ‘nothing has changed’. The 32-year old driver has turned to the WRC after his Formula One career and has recently also been flirting with the American NASCAR Series.
About his current achievements in the WRC he said, “It's been fun and, compared to where I started, I have developed a lot. I wasn't expecting anything even though I always try to go as fast as I could. Sometimes the results were good, sometimes not so good.”
Asked whether a Formula One come back would be a new challenge for him he commented, “It is the thing [F1] I have done most of my life. Much more challenging would be to try to do something else.” Raikkonen also thinks not much has changed in Formula One, and doesn’t expect a troublesome return like Schumacher.
Asked about the major changes in Formula One he said, “From what you can see on TV, no [changes]. The main difference is the tyres.”
If Raikkonen would join Williams, it would definitely the end of the career of Brazilian Rubens Barrichello. It is expected second Williams' driver Pastor Maldonado will keep his seat for 2012, and he would be more than happy to race alongside the experienced Barrichello.
“The season might not have been great but I believe, at Williams, we have one of the best driver pairings in Formula One,” the Venezuelan said. “Unfortunately, the car is not competitive but, to have Rubens as a teammate, for me, is great because he has helped me with everything. He's an incredibly talented driver and is still so incredibly motivated. He's helped me to improve my time and technique out there,” he commented.
Fact remains Williams has had a disastrous 2011 season, and have only scored five points. Reinforcing the team with the also very talented Raikkonen would certainly be a good move, but a deal also depends on what Williams has to offer Raikkonen, recently team owner Sir Frank Williams has completely overhauled the technical staff in a bid to compete with the top teams again next season.
Williams have so far not given any official comments on the possible return of Raikkonen with the Grove-based team.