F1 rivals would welcome `raver` Raikkonen`s return

Last Updated: Nov 11, 2011, 19:40 PM IST

Abu Dhabi: Kimi Raikkonen`s possible Formula One comeback would liven up the post-race party scene as well as adding a sixth world champion to the starting grid, rivals agree.

The 2007 world champion, who quit Formula One to go rallying at the end of 2009 but remains hugely popular with the fans, has been linked to a seat next season at Williams although the team have made no public comment.

Raikkonen has confirmed to Finnish reporters that he has had talks while Williams shareholder Christian `Toto` Wolff said this week that he was one of several options under consideration.

Some of the Finn`s former rivals said at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that they would welcome his return.

"I have no idea whether that is happening or not," said Team Lotus`s Finnish driver Heikki Kovalainen.

"If Kimi decides to come back, I think the main difference for me will be that the parties after the races will be a little bit better."

Raikkonen, so often unforthcoming and monosyllabic in news conferences, had an off-track reputation as a party animal during his stint in Formula One with Sauber, McLaren and Ferrari.

Among other exploits, he once entered a powerboat race in a gorilla suit as `James Hunt` and was also photographed asleep on a bench with an inflatable dolphin outside a Spanish nightclub.

"I had a few drinks and danced. Why not?" Raikkonen was quoted as saying afterwards.

Michael Schumacher, the seven-times world champion whose place at Ferrari was taken by the Finn at the end of 2006, enjoyed some memorable post-season parties with Raikkonen.

The German, who made his own comeback last year after three years out, was reluctant to offer any advice but could see potential for entertainment.

"I would be very happy to see him back. We have had some very good times and I look forward for some on track and off track occasions -- it will be good," he said.

Getting back into the groove after a couple of years away might not be too difficult, though.

"In the end, you think how much can you recall your potential. How much can you drive the car to its limit. That is the main concern that was answered right away at the first test," said the 42-year-old of his own case.

"It took me probably 15 laps to sort of get back and drive the car, not at its full limit but close and from then on it is just a matter of time. I am pretty sure with Kimi he is capable of doing so."

Bureau Report