F1

Whitmarsh betting on Raikkonen

Whitmarsh betting on Raikkonen

After Kimi Raikkonen's performance at the Belgian Grand Prix, McLaren's managing director Martin Whitmarsh said he's sure the Finn will be world champion. Although Raikkonen retired from the race at Spa with engine failure, his efforts in...

After Kimi Raikkonen's performance at the Belgian Grand Prix, McLaren's managing director Martin Whitmarsh said he's sure the Finn will be world champion. Although Raikkonen retired from the race at Spa with engine failure, his efforts in qualifying saw him the only driver to be close to the pole position of Michael Schumacher.

Kimi Raikkonen.
Photo by DaimlerChrysler.
"He's going to win a race very soon, we'd love it to be this year, and he's going to be a world champion with us," Whitmarsh said. "You can see and you sense it in the team, you sense it in Kimi, that there is a win that is going to happen there and it's going to be very soon."

During qualifying Raikkonen was on a flying lap when he encountered a huge cloud of smoke from the blown engine of Olivier Panis' BAR. Rather than lift and ruin his lap, Kimi barreled blind into the smoke in a move that the majority of the drivers on the grid wouldn't have even contemplated. Some say the Finn took a stupid risk but Raikkonen said afterwards he had seen a trail of oil from Panis' car, so knew which side of the track was clear.

Whitmarsh believes it's quick thinking like that which puts Raikkonen into a very special league: "In the last few races, it's been more obvious. You can see all those signs of magic," he said. "The alertness just to be able to say 'I can see the oil trail, I'll steer away from it'. Those things, they are the very special drivers that have that. I think there is real magic there and I think people are now seeing it and he's getting stronger and stronger."

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