Raikkonen to be surprise of season says ex-teammate

(L to R): Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren with new team mate Pedro de la Rosa (ESP) McLaren. Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, French Grand Prix, Preparations, Magny-Cours, France, 13 July 2006. DIGITAL IMAGE

Kimi Raikkonen and Pedro de la Rosa were McLaren teammates in 2006

Mar.21 (GMM) Kimi Raikkonen is still up to the task of performing at his best in F1,  claims Pedro de la Rosa, who in 2006 was the famous Finn’s race teammate at McLaren just before Raikkonen – now 32 – switched to Ferrari and won the world championship.

The so-called ‘Iceman’ has been out of F1 for two years and on his comeback in Australia last week dropped the ball with a miserable qualifying performance.

It has emerged that Raikkonen came into the pits to change the tint of his helmet visor, and could not get back out for a crucial final qualifying run.

According to Helsingin Sanomat newspaper, Raikkonen described the incident as “a little f*ck up”, and a day later had to be reminded on the radio about the meaning of blue flags.

De la Rosa, however – who was a mere spectator in Melbourne after failing to qualify with HRT – said Sunday in Australia was “a fantastic race performance by Kimi”.

“Kimi is a phenomenal talent and definitely one of the best drivers I have ever seen,” the Spaniard is quoted by another Finnish newspaper, Turun Sanomat.

“Kimi and his team (Lotus) look really competitive. My guess is that they will be the biggest surprise of the season,” added de la Rosa.

Subbed by AJN.