Iceman back in Formula 1
WITH the opening race of the 2012 season to be contested on Melbourne’s Albert Park road course in three weeks, breaking news in F1 circles is the return of 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen to F1 following several ordinary seasons in the World Rally Championship and NASCAR.
Though he had some top-10 WRC finishes, he also crashed into the scenery on numerous occasions. Ironically Raikkonen replaces Robert Kubika at Lotus Renault following Kubika’s crash into a steel guard rail during a “one-off” drive in the Ronde di Androa Rally in Italy 11 months ago.
The crash left Kubika with horrific injures to his right g leg, arm and hand. He still has only very limited ed use of his arm and hand and consequently is unable ble to return to F1 in 2012.
Known as “The Iceman” due to his obvious lack of emotion, whether on the podium or in media interviews, Raikkonen has shrugged off comments about his return after two years away from the F1 circuit.
“It has no effect on me. Sometimes you hear nonsense and sometimes you hear nice things. The main thing is that coming back is what I wanted and I have a good opportunity with the team so I’m happy,” he said.
For the first time, two Australians will be on the grid in Melbourne – Mark Webber, who finished third in the championship last year, and West Australian Daniel Ricciardo, who has secured a drive with the Italian Toro Rosso Team. He will almost certainly replace Webber at Red Bull Renault when he retires from F1.
Commenting on Webber’s performances, former Red Bull driver now F1 commentator David Coulthard said: “We’ve seen some incredible performances from Mark and he’s a gutsy driver. His pass on Alonso at Spa, going into Eau Rouge (high speed corner).”
“I thought it was going to be an ‘aeroplane crash’. But he pulled it off. He is definitely a great racing driver.
“Mark just needs to rediscover his mojo for qualifying and he’ll be fine, because the rest is there.”
CASHED UP SENNA JOINS WILLIAMS
IN other F1 news, Bruno Senna has replaced Rubens Barichello at Williams. Having lost his title sponsor AT&T, Frank Williams needed a capable driver with a pocket full of cash.
Senna, nephew of the great Ayrton Senna, was on the list but did not have enough cash. However, he secured $US16 million to get the nod. Despite this, Williams’ chief operations engineer Mark Gillan said the final decision was based on raw pace, consistency, tyre management, technical feedback and mental capacity. Following his signing Senna said: “It will be very interesting to drive for a team that my uncle has driven for, particularly as quite a few of the people here
With school now resuming, motorists are asked to observe the 40km/h speed limit in school zones and
be most vigilant in these areas. Many young ones are at school for the first time and may be unaware of unfamiliar surroundings and the presence
of motor vehicles. actually worked with Ayrton.” (Ayrton Senna died after crashing at the San Marino GP in May 1994, driving a Williams F1 car.)
Senna replaces fellow Brazilian Rubens Barichello following a record 326 F1 races and 11 victories from 1993 to 2011. However, Barichello, not one to let the grass grow under his feet, is to test drive an Indy Car with KV Racing at Sebring in Florida this week.
SUPERBIKE YOUNG GUNS FIRE UP
AUSTRALIA’S Chad Reed had a great start to the 2012 World Supercross Championship.
After finishing second in round one, Reed won at the Los Angeles Dodger Stadium and now lies in second place behind Ryan Dungey.
Three Australian riders will be on the grid at the opening round of the 2012 World Superbike Championship next month at Phillip Island in Victoria. Mark Aithison, Broc Parkes and rookie Jed Metcher will no doubt benefit from parochial crowd support where Casey Stoner has dominated for several years in the top level Moto GP.
As the young guns step up, Australia’s multiple World Super Sport Motorcycle Champion Andrew Pitt announced his retirement last week after a triumphant 15-year career.
Testing time: Finland’s 2007 F1 champion Kimi Raikkonen (right) gets an update with a team engineer in Valencia this week, ahead of his first run with a Lotus-renault F1 car (inset).