FIA World Rally Championship team Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT are open into making their Yaris WRC car available for Scuderia Ferrari‘s Kimi Räikkönen to test.
The Finn’s future in Formula 1 is under question with his contract set to expire at the end of the season and with Ferrari protege and current Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team driver Charles Leclerc currently favourite to take Räikkönen’s seat for next year.
Rumours have suggested that Räikkönen could return to WRC in 2019, racing with Toyota, but the Finn has dismissed rumors surrounding it. However, a report from Motorsport.com indicated that Toyota’s team principal Tommi Makinen are open into giving Räikkönen a test.
“He hasn’t tested anything now, but why not?” said Makinen.
“If he wants to drive the car I can let him, no question.”
Räikkönen took part in WRC whilst taking his sabbatical between the 2010 and 2011 season, where the Finn recorded a fifth place as his best result.
Toyota WRC sporting director Kaj Lindstrom, was Räikkönen’s co driver during his time in the sport and says it would be interesting to see the thirty eight year old back in a WRC car, but admits no talks have taken place yet.
“You know Kimi, when we drove before he said we would do a few rallies in the Fiat…” said Lindstrom, referring to how an outing in an Abarth in 2009 proceeded into a full WRC switch.
“He hasn’t said anything yet. He might say he wants to do one rally or something and it would be interesting to see him in the car, but nothing has been talked about.”
Lindstrom admits that the story of Räikkönen and a return to WRC can be easily carried away and have to be careful when surrounding the stories.
“Tommi knows him well and Kimi knows me well,” Lindstrom continued. “But this kind of story has to be really careful. If we say anything then it goes on and suddenly we have Kimi in the car and in the team for the whole season.
“This kind of thing can get a little bit silly.”
Five-time WRC champion and Räikkönen’s team mate during his rallying career, Sebastien Ogier said to Motorsport.com that a return to rallying for the Finn would be good for the sport.
“If he wants to, then I am sure he can be good,” said Ogier. “It’s just a question of whether he wants to – we know he’s not a big worker.
“But a name like Räikkönen is never bad for the sport, that’s for sure.
“We remember when he came 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.”