When Kimi R?â?ñikk?â?Ânen announced he was taking a sabbatical from F1 to compete in the World Rally Championship I was sceptical about whether we’d ever see him back in an F1 car.
Will Kimi R?â?ñikk?â?Ânen ever come back to F1?
- No, he won't come back to F1 (64%)
- Yes, but not in 2011 (25%)
- Yes, in 2011 (12%)
Total Voters: 3,379
R?â?ñikk?â?Ânen enjoyed a promotion to McLaren in 2002 when his compatriot Mika Hakkinen took a “sabbatical”. But it soon turned out Hakkinen wasn’t coming back.
It was a different matter when Alain Prost took a sabbatical a decade earlier – because he already had a Williams contract in his pocket for 1993.
If R?â?ñikk?â?Ânen were to return in 2011, where could he go? It was clear at the end of last year he was not prepared to drive for anything less than a top team, which at the moment probably limits him to McLaren, Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault.
A return to Ferrari seems unlikely. He was prised out of a contract to drive for the team this year to make way for Fernando Alonso. Luca di Montezemolo said in December R?â?ñikk?â?Ânen had not contributed enough to the development of the car:
We realised that our team needed a driver capable of really getting involved with the engineers, a characteristic that was not part of Kimi?óÔé¼Ôäós genetic make-up, even though he is an amazingly talented guy.
Luca di Montezemolo
Another of his former teams, McLaren, courted R?â?ñikk?â?Ânen for 2010 before settling on Jenson Button. But there’s no sign at the moment the team are anything less than pleased with both their drivers who have been closely matched so far this year.
That leaves Mercedes and Renault, both of which have reasons to be pleased with the performance of both their drivers so far: Michael Schumacher is improving with every race, Nico Rosberg has kept him honest, while at Renault Robert Kubica has driven brilliantly and Vitaly Petrov has been one of the more impressive rookies.
Meanwhile Raikkonen is making steady progress in the WRC. His best finish so far is a fifth place in Turkey while team mate Sebastien Ogier won the last round in Portugal.
But any expectations R?â?ñikk?â?Ânen would be instantly competitive with the likes of Sebastien Loeb just because he has a world championship in a different racing discipline under his belt were unrealistic.
R?â?ñikk?â?Ânen has not given any indication he’s planning a return to F1 next year and seems to be happier away from the politics and pressures of Formula 1.
To me it looks like R?â?ñikk?â?Ânen’s sabbastical has gone the way of Hakkinen’s. Do you think he’ll ever come back to F1?