Kimi Raikkonen set for 200th grand prix today

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Kimi Raikkonen will join an elite club of drivers in the history of Formula 1 when he races in his 200th grand prix in Montreal today.

The Finn made his debut back in 2001 for Sauber, and immediately shot to fame with a stunning first race in Australia where he finished sixth despite having only raced in single seaters 23 times beforehand. He joined McLaren for 2002 and remained with the British team until the end of 2006 before joining Ferrari.

Raikkonen enjoyed his finest hour in 2007, winning the drivers’ world championship by one point from Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. However, his form with Ferrari then nosedived in 2008, and at the end of 2009, he walked away from Maranello and Formula 1 altogether to try some other racing series such as rallying and even one NASCAR event.

In the fall of 2011, it was confirmed that Raikkonen would be returning to F1 in 2012 with Lotus alongside Romain Grosjean. He had an impressive comeback season, winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and finishing third in the drivers’ championship. Another win came at the beginning of 2013, but this would prove to be his last for the team. Towards the end of the year, his relationship soured with Lotus due to a lack of payment, and he left the team before the season’s end in order to have back surgery ahead of his return to Ferrari in 2014.

So far this year, the glorious comeback that many expected has failed to come about. The Finn currently sits 12th in the drivers’ standings with just 17 points, 44 less than teammate Fernando Alonso. Nevertheless, he has underlined his commitment to both Formula 1 and Ferrari.

For race #200, Kimi will start down in 10th place. Although he may not stand much chance of finishing on the podium, a good haul of points is certainly achievable in Canada. His passive and honest attitude is popular among the fans of the sport away from the track, while his on track achievements have been numerous; one world title appears to short change him slightly.

You can watch Raikkonen’s 200th race, the Canadian Grand Prix, live on NBC from 2pm ET, with the pre-race show starting on NBCSN at 1:30pm.

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

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If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.