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Toyota Open to Giving Räikkönen WRC Test But Probably Not A Full-Time Seat

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Kimi Raikkonen

Tommi Makinen, team principal for Toyota’s World Rally Championship (WRC) team, has said he is more than willing to make a test seat available for Formula One world champion Kimi Räikkönen.

“He hasn’t tested anything now, but why not?” Makinen asked. “If he wants to drive the car I can let him, no question.”

Räikkönen currently drives for Scuderia Ferrari in Formula 1 alongside four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, but his future at the sport is uncertain; primarily because he is well into retirement age but also because the Italian team is widely believed to be favoring Charles Leclerc for 2019.

Like most drivers, however, Räikkönen is unlikely to retire from motorsports altogether even after leaving F1. In fact, the Finn had already retired after 2008 and, before his return in 2012, spent the intervening years rallying, including for Makinen.

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“I know how he is driving,” said the four-time WRC champion. “He drives very well, he’s not crazy.

Nonetheless, Toyota WRC sporting director Kaj Lindstrom advised the press not to get carried away with rumors. He admitted that Räikkönen would have no trouble participating in one rally, but that “this kind of story has to be really careful. If we say anything then it goes on and suddenly [it is written that] we have Kimi in the car and in the team for the whole season.”

Clearly, then, there is no serious talk of Räikkönen joining the team full-time, and five-time WRC champion Sebastian Ogier was not shy about sharing his thoughts on how the F1 driver would perform.

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“If he wants to, then I’m sure he can be good,” he said. “It’s just a question of whether he wants to — we know he’s not a big worker. We remember when he came out several years ago, he struggled and now, after being out for some time, it won’t be easier—especially now as I feel the level is even higher than when he was there before.”

Still, Ogier had to admit that “a name like Räikkönen is never bad for the sport, that’s for sure.”

So will Räikkönen join the WRC after retiring from F1? It’s all rumors for now, but the champion already showed his taste for rallying last time he retired, and there’s no reason he would have lost it. And he is, after all, a Finn.