Promoter Hails WRC-F1 Drivers' Exchange
The first official connection between the two FIA-sanctioned championships was made by Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, who last weekend contested in his very first WRC event. While running in 15th place during SS18 of Rally Finland, the Ferrarian wrongly approached a corner and drove his car into a ditch, while rolling in the process.
Regardless of his unfortunate accident, Raikkonen was praised by most WRC drivers for his secure drive in one of the toughest rallies in the WRC calendar. With Robert Kubica also buying a WRC car in recent months with the sole aim of following the Fin into professional rallying events and Sebastian Vettel visiting the Citroen Total garage during last weekend's Rally Finland, this almost becomes a trend within the F1 paddock.
In exchange, 5-time WRC champion Sebastien Loeb is believed to get behind the wheel of a STR4 during Formula One's season finale at Abu Dhabi. According to WRC promoter Simon Long, the exchange of experience between F1 and WRC drivers can only boost the two sports' popularity among fans worldwide.
“I think it's fantastic to see so much Formula 1 interest in the WRC. We've got two motorsport series at the very top of world and drivers in both categories like to believe they're the world's best when get behind the wheel,” said Long, according to British magazine Autosport.
“I like this jostling in the hierarchy for who's the best. There are a lot of synergies between the driver mentality in F1 and what we see here in WRC: aggression, real expertise and the belief from those drivers that they are world's best - long may that battle continue.”
“To have Sebastien [Loeb] testing his metal against the best in (Formula 1) in Abu Dhabi later this year and vice-versa in Finland (with Raikkonen) is a really good example of the box office draw of the two championships - and this battle for supremacy in terms of who is the world's greatest driver and what is the world's greatest test of man and machine,” concluded the WRC promoter.