So Kimi Raikkonen will become the latest single-seater star to step into a stock car as word of a defection to Nascar does the rounds. After a terrible season-and-a-bit of rallying the flying, rolling and bouncing Finn could turn his talent away from forests to ovals.
I take my hat off to any successful racing driver, but those who turn their hands to different disciplines always command the most respect in my mind. So Kimi is back in the good books – F1 to rallying to Nascar Trucks is about as varied a career as it gets. For his Nascar adventure it seems Kimi will also be investing in his own ICE1 team, which is to be applauded. Despite skipping F3 on his meteoric rise through the ranks Kimi has co-owned a British F3 team and leases his own gear from Citroen for his limited rallying campaign this year, so he’s had a taste of how life feels when you pay the bills rather than just cash the cheques.
His fellow team-owner will be Foster Gillett, part of the Gillett family who aren’t too popular in this part of the world after leaving Liverpool Football club in big debt. They’ve long been involved with Nascar, but the name rang alarm bells for me, but Kimi is a big boy.
Kimi told the Finish paper Turun Sanomat, “I just the love the American spirit of racing” and I’m inclined to agree with him. Whether he will love the actual racing is another matter; Juan Pablo Montoya, a fellow no-nonsense man of considerable talents, is still waiting to truly crack Nascar despite making Indycars look easy.
Another pitfall for Kimi will be the media attention in Nascar. Although the stars aren’t nannied by PR-types in quite the same way as F1 pilots, they are still expected to give good sound-bites, talk up rivalries and brazenly promote sponsors, something that the former F1 champion is a little less adept at.
Meanwhile lets hope that Kimi takes the Texas challenge in Indycar at the end of the season. Seems like a neat way to get a little oval practice in and five million bucks would be a nice little boost for his new Nascar squad.