In something of an appendage to the Formula 1 ‘silly season’, there has emerged the possibility of a link-up between former world champion Kimi Raikkonen and the Williams team.
Raikkonen quit Formula 1 at the end of 2009 to take up rallying, but has struggled to compete at the top of the order in the two years since.
The Finn won the 2007 Formula 1 world championship in his first season with Ferrari, having toiled to little effect with McLaren for several years prior. Once champion, though, his form dipped significantly and he was dropped by Ferrari to make room for Fernando Alonso in time for the 2010 season.
The prestigious Williams team are currently enduring their worst season ever, having first entered Formula 1 in 1978, adrift in ninth spot in the constructors’ standings with a measly five points. A Williams car has not won a race since the final round of the 2004 season in Brazil, with Juan-Pablo Montoya at the wheel, and the last driver to win the world title in a Williams was Jacque Villeneuve in 1997.
With current driver Pastor Maldonado enjoying such strong financial backing from sponsors in his native Venezuela, Rubens Barrichello would have to be the one to make way for Raikkonen. Barrichello, a veteran of 19 seasons in Formula 1 and the most experienced driver in the sport’s history, is understood to be in no mood to hang up his helmet.
With initial interest established on both sides, doubtless the brinkmanship will now begin. Raikkonen’s salary will be serious money to Williams, but his presence in the team could well attract the significant investment needed to push this ailing giant back into the sport’s elite circle. What is more, three into two will not go – meaning that either Raikkonen or Barrichello could pop up somewhere else for next season.