Kimi Raikkonen surprised the motorsport world this week by announcing he will switch to NASCAR this year. The 2007 Formula 1 champion will start racing with a new team called ICE1 in the Truck series and will later move to the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series. Most likely, the team will be supported by Raikkonen himself, whose current WRC team is called ICE1 as well and is backed by the driver and sponsors from Finland.
According to the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat, Raikkonen will join NASCAR this summer, though an exact date has not yet been confirmed. “I’m really looking forward to get there to familiarize to the world of NASCAR”, said the Finn. “I have been following it for a long time. I know, it’s a very tough and open, top racing series. I just love the American spirit of racing. It feels just great to get involved with that. Obviously, it will be very challenging and great fun for me,” Raikkonen added.
Raikkonen will team up with Foster Gillet who worked with Richard Petty Motorsport in NASCAR last year and is the son of George Gillet, former owner of the Liverpool soccer team and Montreal Canadiens ice hockey team. Raikkonen’s move doesn’t necessarily mean he will give up rallying this year, with the Finn having a deal for eight events in the WRC in 2011. The Finn drives a Citroen DS3 WRC this year and is currently ninth in the overall standings. He quit Formula 1 at the end of the 2009 season and started racing in the World Rally Championship the following year, ending his maiden WRC season in tenth place.
By Dan Mihalascu