There was a sense of pandemic and uncontrollable excitement soon as news hit that former Formula 1 world champion, Kimi Raikkonen, the latest driver to bring a world title to Maranello, circa 2007, was to make a comeback to the racing grid.
Just how many of us saw that coming?
And even though the much-talked-about comeback does not pertain to Formula 1, the top flight of motor-racing, that it is Kimi Raikkonen who’s all set to return to proper racing, a driver who is no mug behind the wheel, is reason enough to be excited.
A reason to bombard one’s timeline over social media with broad-faced smiles!
And truth be told, that’s pretty much what has been happening in the realm of racing whether one talks about Instagram, Facebook or even Twitter; it’s Kimi everywhere!
Kimi Raikkonen, whose last competitive single-seater race in any kind of format was the 2021 season-finale, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, returns to the sport at a time where his fans are utterly delighted and the F1 world is already into a tizzy given the Ferrari versus Red Bull dogfight (currently on display).
The veteran of Formula 1 who retired as the sport’s most experienced driver besides the only from Ferrari in the past decade and a half to bring glory to Italy and its Tifosi had maintained in no uncertain terms that racing was behind him and that he had ‘no interest left to compete’ whatsoever.
Yet, the fact that soon, Kimi Raikkonen shall be making his NASCAR debut for Trackhouse and will be racing at Watkins Glen, New York is reason enough for some old timers and purists to sit glued in front of their TV sets with the hope that the Iceman can set NASCAR on fire.
But whether that actually happens or not, what we do know is that one of Kimi’s former teammates (in F1), Juan Pablo Montoya, has suggested that there’s little reason to doubt that the famous Finn can put up a strong show in the much-anticipated event in the imminent future.
So the question is, what did Montoya, whose one time fastest-lap record was broken by none other than Kimi Raikkonen himself (Monza, 2018- 1:19:119) say on his former McLaren teammate?
“He’s going to be fine. One of his biggest challenges will be to have extreme recourse to the ‘bump’ (Nascar technique, consisting of gently pushing the car with its front bumper to make room. Editor’s note). When you disembark from the Monoplace , you believe that by closing the door to your opponent in a turn, it will be enough to keep him behind you. In Nascar, you do that, and you get hit. That’s what I was doing!”
But that’s not all; Montoya further elaborated on just how different is the NASCAR machine on an Oval track and whether it’s all that challenging and physical to drive. He’d further add the following:
“He will be surprised by the slowness of the car. However, a Nascar car is not at all physical to drive. It is very slow, yes. When you think you’re at 30% of her potential… she’s actually at 100% (laughs). A Nascar on an oval is another animal, there is more technology and technique.”