Where to start? After the paddock rumours in Brazil that the deal for Raikkonen to drive at Williams in 2012 was off, I was totally gutted. What had been a certainty and just a matter of time for the announcement turned into yet another disappointment. There was more substance to these rumours than any come back rumours since Kimi left F1 at the end of 2009 and so I’d stupidly got carried away and was looking forward to seeing him line up on the grid in the very team that my F1 journey had begun with.
Bouiller made noises about the harem of drivers that were possibilities at LRGP, including Kimi, but it seemed like he had only been mentioned in passing. A friend last week commented that it either meant a deal had been done or there really was no chance; at the time I felt like it meant there really was no chance.
Then on Monday morning it all began to resurface – Peter Windsor tweeting that he’d heard Kimi had signed a deal to drive for LRGP. I laughed it off after discussing it with people at work, I wasn’t going to get my hopes up this time. A text came from a journalist friend telling me of the same rumour, not 100% confirmed but looking pretty likely. A bit more giggling, this time starting to get to me but no, I wasn’t going to be drawn into the hope and disappointment all over again. After all it looked like Bouiller had burnt that bridge.
Then yesterday evening the rumours were getting louder and louder, with more and more journalists reporting a deal was due to be announced. I was convinced it was either a LRGP deal confirming Senna and Petrov for 2012 or Raikkonen announcing a third year in WRC. Still no harm in refreshing twitter, facebook, autosport and my work email every 5 minutes….
By about 11pm I’d given up, it was all a silly Twitter hoax with people getting misinformation. I remembered an offer for 30% off photobooks so set about doing one for my Mum for Christmas. I’d soon got fed up of faffing with the photobook website and it was looking like I wasn’t going to meet the midnight deadline, so decided it was bedtime. Once last refresh of email before going to sleep….
And there it was. Confirmation of Kimi Raikkonen coming back to F1 and driving for LRGP. I screamed, shouted a bit and then promptly burst into tears. How grateful I am that the email came whilst I was at home! I hadn’t dared hope that there was going to be a comeback 12 hours earlier, let alone that he would be driving for LRGP. And there it was in black and white.
To be honest I’m still in shock now, 22 hours later. It hasn’t sunk in. A sleepless night followed reading that email, I text a few work colleagues but wasn’t going to say anything to anyone else until I knew it was public knowledge. I marked the occasion on facebook & twitter with a smiley crying its eyes out & a link to Take That’s ‘Greatest Day’ and spent a restless night refreshing Autosport to see if there was any more information! I think I managed about 3 hours sleep in the end.
Finally this morning the announcement was made and within seconds my phone was vibrating like there was no tomorrow. Friends, family, strangers all knew how much that one announcement would mean to me were sending tweets, facebook comments, emails and texts. Unsurprisingly my productivity at work this morning wasn’t as high as it could have been as the messages kept flooding in. Thanks to everyone who thought of me today, I can’t describe how much it meant!
There is so much uncertainty about next year – I’ve referred to the team as LRGP throughout this post but that’s likely to change given the team now has sole rights to the Lotus name. Raikkonen’s team mate is unknown and from the noises in the press from Petrov’s manager that’s at least 10 days away. Raikkonen’s race craft, his ability to drive 2012 spec cars with KERS, DRS and Pirelli tyres, his motivation, his ability, will all be called into question over the next few weeks, months and perhaps years. People will debate if someone who has had their chance, won their races and championship and left F1 deserves a highly sought after seat. But I don’t care. Signing a world championship winning driver shows that Genii mean business and that they are serious about turning the fortunes of LRGP around. I know Kimi can deliver; just like he did when Mosley didn’t want to give him a super licence after only 23 single seater races. And then went and scored points on his debut race for Sauber a couple of months later. Just like when he almost won a championship in a two year old McLaren. Just like he did when won his championship in his debut year for Ferrari. And when he hauled a rubbish 2009 Ferrari to his final win at Spa. I know Kimi can perform, I know he can be great for the team, and hopefully he’ll stay motivated and push the team onto bigger things.
Now what have I been saying about looking forward to the relative calm of the winter? Screw that, come on Melbourne, hurry up and start the 2012 season already!