Kimi Raikkonen having ‘fun’ on NASCAR Cup debut after qualifying 27th

Jamie Woodhouse
Kimi Raikkonen smiling ahead of his last F1 race. Abu Dhabi December 2021

Kimi Raikkonen had a “fun” time in his first NASCAR Cup Series qualifying session – and now he wants to make another positive step.

Many pairs of eyes have been on Raikkonen at Watkins Glen, the 2007 Formula 1 World Champion making his return to racing for the Go Bowling at The Glen event.

Raikkonen is competing with TrackHouse Racing via their ‘Project91’ initiative, which aims to open up a seat to international drivers to go racing in the United States.

The Finn worked his way through practice without issue, and by the end of qualifying found himself “somewhere in the middle” of the pack, that being 27th.

 

 

No dramas for ‘The Iceman’ then on what was a “fun” day out on the track.

“Obviously I wish there had been more laps and it just felt like there was a lot of potential,” he told NBCUniversal at Watkins Glen. “But I’m not sure which line to take and just not enough laps to build everything together, but it was fun.

“Quite a lot what I expected after the simulator. Obviously there’s always a difference, the fine details are never shown in a simulator, but at least I knew the track and tried to go.

“But I think I needed to be a bit more…some places I thought I was pretty okay, but it’s good, I didn’t expect anything and we are somewhere in the middle so it’s okay.”

Asked what he planned to do on Saturday night ahead of Sunday’s race, Raikkonen had not yet formulated anything but will focus on making sure he knows all the rules to avoid any “silly mistakes”.

He also targets another positive step, like the one he made between practice and qualifying.

“I have no idea yet, too many things, too many options,” he said when asked what he will look at and his methods to prepare for the race. “But I think we’ve just got to make sure we know more or less the rules and not making any silly mistakes on that side hopefully, and then see what we can do with the car.

“We have a little bit of an idea from what we started and where we went and maybe somewhere halfway is better. So we tried to improve from the first session to qualifying and we try to do the same in the race.”

Raikkonen was also quizzed on his decision to head to NASCAR and risk possible “failure”. The Finn, though, does not see what he has to lose by contesting one NASCAR race, regardless of the outcome.

He also hopes his appearance will open the door for more European drivers to get involved.

“I don’t see any risk. Why not?” he said, quoted by Motorsport.com. “What do I have to lose? That I’ve done bad in a NASCAR race or bad in any race? I don’t care.

“I do it for myself. Good or bad result, it could happen even if I did 20 races. They all could be bad for many different reasons.

“I don’t see anything negative. I think it’s great. I’m sure there’s a lot of drivers that would like to have a chance and try, but it’s not very easy.

“So maybe it opens some doors that in future there’s more chance to try to get more Europeans.”