'No talks' between Toyota and Kimi Raikkonen for WRC return
Toyota personnel have denied the likelihood of Ferrari Formula 1 driver Kimi Räikkönen returning to the World Rally Championship with the team in 2019, amid speculation about his future in F1 post-2018.
The Finn competed in the WRC for two years in 2010/11 after being sidelined by Ferrari at the end of 2009 season. He contested the full 2010 season with Citroën’s Junior Team and a programme of selected events with his Ice 1 Racing outfit the following year.
Räikkönen then went back to F1 and is now in his fifth year at Ferrari since his return, but has admitted he would be interested in returning to rallying, prompting rumours that he could make the switch again for 2019 when his current deal with Ferrari comes to an end.
"Maybe some races; For fun. I hope so anyway," the 2007 world champion said when asked if he held ambitions to compete in rallying again after F1.
Media reports in Finland recently quoted Mia Miettinen, the executive vice-president of Tommi Mäkinen Racing, which runs the Toyota entry, as saying the manufacturer would be interested in running Räikkönen, adding: "Kimi could be a good option for Toyota, but he has to decide whether he continues his career with Ferrari."
However, Toyota sporting director Kaj Lindstrom [Räikkönen’s co-driver in the WRC in 2010/11] said that there had been no talks, adding: "This is the first I've heard of it. Clearly if anything like this was going to happen I would have been the first to hear about it from Tommi or Kimi. For me, this is pure speculation."
Toyota's WRC team currently runs Finnish drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Esapekka Lappi, with Estonian Ott Tänak in the third Yaris.