Toyota World Rally Championship team principal Tommi Makinen is ready to make a Yaris WRC available for Ferrari Formula 1 driver Kimi Raikkonen to test.
Though Motorsport.com understands from well-placed sources that recent stories linking Raikkonen to a WRC return with Toyota were “completely blown up”, Makinen has made clear the door is open for a test.
“He hasn’t tested anything now, but why not?” he told Motorsport.com.
“If he wants to drive the car I can let him, no question.”
Makinen ran Raikkonen when he contested a selection of Finnish and Italian events ahead of his WRC Rally Finland outing in 2009.
“I know how he is driving. He drives very well, he’s not crazy,” four-time WRC champion Makinen added.
Raikkonen focused on the WRC during his F1 sabbatical in 2010-11, with a best finish of fifth in Turkey in his first season.
He has previously talked about the potential for a future return to rallying and is understood to be particularly keen to test a new generation World Rally Car.
Current Toyota WRC sporting director Kaj Lindstrom was Raikkonen’s co-driver in all his rally outings.
“You know Kimi, when we drove before he said we would do a few rallies in the Fiat…” Lindstrom told Motorsport.com, referring to how the low-key outings in an S2000 Abarth in 2009 preceded a full-time 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 said if Raikkonen “would like to do one rally” with Toyota “it would be easy for him to do that” as “Tommi has said he’s an interesting person”.
But he warned against expectations getting carried away.
“Tommi knows him well and Kimi knows me well,” said Lindstrom.
“But 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.
“This kind of thing can get a little bit silly.”
Five-time WRC champion Sebastien Ogier said Raikkonen coming back would be good for rallying.
“If he wants to [come back], then I am sure he can be good,” Ogier told Motorsport.com. “It’s just a question of whether he wants to – we know he’s not a big worker.
“But a name like Raikkonen is never bad for the sport, that’s for sure.”
Ogier, Raikkonen’s 2010 teammate at Citroen Junior, warned that he would find the WRC cars have moved on considerably in his absence.
“We remember when he came several years ago, he struggled and now, after being out [of rallying] for some time, it won’t be easier – especially now as I feel the level is even higher than when he was there before,” Ogier added.
Source: Story David Evans. Motorsport.com