Could Kimi Raikonen really return to McLaren to replace Fernando Alonso? Former Head of Communications at McLaren Matt Bishop and ex-F1 driver Will Stevens discuss on the F1 Report.
Kimi Raikkonen’s experience could appeal to McLaren if Fernando Alonso were to leave at the end of the season, according to this week’s F1 Report guests.
Sky Sports understands McLaren would evaluate the option of re-signing Raikkonen, whose Ferrari contract expires in December, in the event that Alonso does not drive for the team in 2019.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo has also been linked with a move.
A McLaren spokesman declined to comment: “We don’t discuss driver matters.”
Alonso has said he will not decide his F1 future until after the sport’s August summer break. Amid moves by McLaren to also enter IndyCar, chief Zak Brown told Sky F1 earlier this month that “hopefully we’ll keep Fernando in a McLaren environment in some way, shape or form”.
McLaren’s line-up has featured at least one world champion for the past decade but were Alonso to move on then Stoffel Vandoorne, the Spaniard’s current team-mate in his second season of F1, and teenage F2 title leader Lando Norris would be the most experienced drivers on their books.
2007 world champion Raikkonen, who turns 39 in October and is the sport’s oldest driver, finished on the podium at last week’s French GP but his Ferrari future beyond this season is uncertain with reports last week suggesting they were leaning towards promoting Charles Leclerc, who is currently excelling in his rookie season on loan at Sauber.
What will McLaren’s 2019 line-up look like?
McLaren’s 2019 driver options were discussed on this week’s F1 Report, which airs for the first time on Wednesday at 8.30pm on Sky Sports F1.
Matt Bishop, who served as McLaren’s communications director for a decade until 2017, believes a Vandoorne-Norris line-up would clearly leave the former world champions short on experience.
“If Fernando stays then I’m afraid Stoffel is vulnerable because I think they might well decide to bring in Lando because that would be the perfect blend of experience and the rookie,” said Bishop.
“Would they really want to pair Lando with Stoffel? It hasn’t got that McLaren feel about it really, has it? That’s probably why they are talking to Daniel, Kimi and others in order to bring a bit more experience in to the mix.”
And former F1 driver Will Stevens told the F1 Report: “It’s time of year when everyone is going to be linked to everyone.
“Especially with Kimi talk of him not going to be at Ferrari, he’s a guy with a lot of experience and McLaren have always wanted some experience in the team.
“So if they lose Fernando, they’re going to want someone with experience. I’m sure there’s going to be a few more people linked with it before the end of the year.”
Raikkonen drove for McLaren for five seasons between 2002 and 2006, twice finishing runner-up in the world championship, before moving to Ferrari for his first spell at Maranello where he won his world title in his first campaign.
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