With Formula One's summer break giving Kimi Raikkonen
some free time, the Ferrari driver decided to indulge in his passion for rally by entering the famously high-paced action of his home country's legendary event, Rally Finland.
Although he has participated in other rallies
over the last year, this was Raikkonen's first attempt at a World Rally Championship event. The 2007 F1 Champion traded his Ferrari F60 for an Abarth Grande Punto S2000 this weekend.
The Finn impressed many observers as he gradually learned how to handle the car and progressed up the general standings.
"The car is performing really well," Raikkonen reported at the conclusion of Day One. "The notes are the biggest challenge in this rally because you must have total faith in them."
However mechanical problems hindered his pace on Saturday, with the Grande Punto's engine suffering a power loss and a broken suspension spring making for a rougher ride.
While attacking a tricky section on Day Two's final stage, Raikkonen slipped off the gravel, rolled his Grande Punto and ended his course in a ditch, putting an end to his Rally Finland foray. He retired while in an impressive 15th overall position on his WRC debut.
"I knew that place but I came in with too wide a line," the Finn explained. "I thought we were going to go wide but then, unfortunately, there were a lot of rocks and when I hit them the car went over.
Cool as usual, Raikkonen added: "But it was good fun and nobody got hurt. It happens; it's part of rallying."
It is no secret that when he eventually retires from Formula One, Raikkonen may well begin a WRC career.
"I am still in F1 and still have one more year (on my) contract but everything is open and it is nice to be a part of it here," he commented during the FIA's pre-event press conference. "I am in no hurry."
"I like learning different things so if I have no testing, and the time, then I will do more rallies. I enjoy it and there is no harm in it," Raikkonen said.
Five-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb
, who finished second on this event, gave high marks to Raikkonen.
"I think he was very good because he was only a second behind per kilometre," AFP reported Loeb as saying. "Accomplishing that in Finland, on his first participation, is really very good. It shows he had confidence."