F1 legend Kimi Raikkonen makes retirement U-turn and returns to motor racing

Motorsport legend Kimi Raikkonen may have retired from Formula 1, but he still has the racing bug after signing up for NASCAR, and is due to make his debut in the NASCAR Cup Series this weekend. The Fin expressed wanting to spend more time with his family when he left F1.

But it seems the fire for racing still burns bright within the 2007 F1 world champion as he returns to action this weekend at Watkins Glen with Trackhouse Racing. Denny Hamlin, who will compete against Raikkonen at Wakins Glen with Joe Gibbs Racing, already shot down the F1 legend's chances of winning.

“It’s a great opportunity for him and Trackhouse and whatnot, but as far as being a contender to race for the win, I don’t think that’s a possibility,” Hamlin told reporters as he discussed Raikkonen’s chances at Watkins Glen.

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“Just simply because it does take time. If you look at the people who have been successful in stock cars coming from open-wheel backgrounds, it takes a long time. Other than you got these anomalies like Tony Stewart and a few others. [Juan Pablo] Montoya took a little bit of time.

"But it’s just really difficult because everyone has gotten so much better, especially with the information, the data, they’ve got nowadays. All the drivers that are in the field now have really stepped up dramatically. I think it’s a good thing for our sport to get some good publicity, but other than that, I’m not really sure it changes the dynamic of the race too much.”

Although this weekend will mark Raikkonen’s first time racing in the NASCAR series, this is not his first time competing in NASCAR outright. In fact, he raced in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series back in 2011.

Like F1, NASCAR unveiled the new ‘Next Gen Car’ in a bid to create a more even playing field, something which is very attractive to Raikkonen. “I think any time there’s an equal chance to win in a series it is nice,” Raikkonen toldAP .“I think it’s good, and what I heard when I talked to people about the new car is that it is pretty even with everybody, it’s still a learning phase for all teams with the new car.”

TrackHouse Racing, co-owned by Justin Marks, is a big fan of the team’s international programme designed to open up a seat to stars from abroad. He also praised Marks who travelled to his home in Switzerland to sign him and was grateful for the honesty shown throughout the negotiation process and beyond.

“I think he came as a very honest and straightforward guy and nobody has promised any big thing,” Raikkonen added. “The only thing we can do is do our best and hope we get a good result. You never know, any category or any racing you choose, you just never know what will happen. And so I trusted what he was saying and they’ve been doing pretty well. In NASCAR, it can easily happen.”

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