Williams minority shareholder Christian ‘Toto’ Wolff has let slip what we all knew already, that the Grove team is in advanced talks to sign former World Champion Kimi Räikkönen for the 2012 season.
The Austrian – who owns roughly a 20% stake in the team – told Kronen Zeitung: “The Kimi Räikkönen file is on the table. The story is not a publicity stunt. We are negotiating seriously. There are several options. It will be a strategic decision.”
The Finn left Formula 1 at the end of the 2009 season after being dropped by Ferrari, later going on to contest two seasons in the World Rally Championship, as well as the odd outing in NASCAR.
A return for him would see a record six World Champions on the grid for the 2012 season.
Rumours surrounding a Räikkönen return have been building for the past few months, with the team recently admitting that he had visited the team’s Grove headquarters for a “private visit”.
He also confirmed that the team is considering Force India driver Adrian Sutil – widely expected to be dropped by the team in favour of test driver Nico Hülkenberg – and Ferrari reserve driver Jules Bianchi, whose French nationality would go down well with the team’s new engine supplier, Renault.
With Pastor Maldonado and his Venezuelan Bolivars keeping his seat at Williams all but secure for 2012, this is bad news for Rubens Barrichello, who will almost certainly find himself cast into retirement at the end of his nineteenth year in the sport.