Kimi Raikkonen has won his first ever rally with the Citroen Junior Team, finishing tops at the Rallye Vosgien which happened over the weekend. The ex-F1 champ and his Citroen C4 WRC was unbeaten on all six stages at the national-level French event.
It was held in the Strasbourg area, which is close to where the Rally of France, the next round of the WRC, will be held. “This was a good preparation for the Rally of France. From what I am told, the roads on this event were fairly representative of what we will see on the next WRC round, so I am happy. It’s also good to get back into driving the car on asphalt – that’s very useful as well,” said the Iceman. The Citroen Junior Team is unable to test ahead of the Rally of France having pre-assigned all of its 15 test days, so it the outing was fruitful.
On the Finn’s return to F1 via Renault, whether it goes through or not boils down to commercial reasons. While having Kimi on board will boost the team’s chances to fight for the title, Vitaly Petrov brings sponsorship money from his homeland and is a “window to Russia” for the brand.
“It’s very important (financial considerations). As I said, we use Formula 1, and we have to push our team to succeed because we use the platform to do business. And you know, it’s a question of image,” team chairman Gerard Lopez told Autosport.
“It’s not that Vitaly is a paying driver, because he’s not, but certainly the sponsors that he brought or that came, which is Lada, have been very good sponsors. And he’s a good driver. Vitaly was second in the GP2 championship last year and could easily have won that championship if he hadn’t had six failures last year.
“On top of all that, he is a driver that has 250 million Russian-speaking people that are convinced in him, so we’d be stupid not to assume that there is a business behind that. But we have to build the driver. He is to us a very important element, just as Robert is,” Lopez added.
Raikkonen vs Petrov is an easy choice if only talent is taken into account, but F1 is a business at the end of the day, which is why it won’t be that straightforward. Let’s see who prevails.