Toto Wolff, who owns around 20 percent of the Williams team, says that the team is in negotiation with Kimi Raikkonen. The Austrian investor said that “The Kimi Raikkonen 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.”
Wolff says that an aggressive choice would be to run Ferrari test driver Jules Bianchi, who is managed by Nicolas Todt, who currently manages the team’s other driver Pastor Maldonado. The 22-year-old Frenchman finished third in the GP2 Series this year and his presence in the team would please Williams’s new engine partner Renault. However, running Bianchi and Maldonado would mean a very inexperienced duo, which is probably not what is needed. The other option is believed to be Adrian Sutil, who is expected to be dropped by Force India. Sutil is quick, but does not seem to know why he is quick, which is not much good for the team’s engineers as they try to develop cars. Raikkonen is thus the best choice of the three, in terms of prestige and performance. There remain some question marks about his motivation which seemed to tail off dramatically after he won the World Championship with Ferrari in 2007. He was outpaced by Felipe Massa in 2008 and was dropped at the end of 2009, a year ahead of the end of his Ferrari contract.
While money may seem to be a problem, there are increasing rumours that the team will be sponsored by QNB, the Qatar national bank, which has major international expansion plans. There have been rumours of an announcement coming at Abu Dhabi, but that does not really make sense and we would expect the team to leave the news for a few days to get maximum exposure.