Leave Kimi alone, he’s still focused on F1

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Kimi Raikkonen has rejected claims suggesting that he may no longer be interested in Formula 1, affirming his focus on returning to winning ways with Ferrari in 2014.

The Finn famously walked away from Ferrari and the sport at the end of 2009 in order to pursue other ventures, including rallying and a one-off NASCAR appearance. When he returned in 2012 with Lotus, he appeared to have his old spark back, but after being forced out of Enstone due to a lack of payment, he returned to Ferrari for this season.

However, it has not gone entirely to plan. Raikkonen currently sits 12th in the drivers’ standings with just 17 points, and is some 44 points behind teammate Fernando Alonso. Nevertheless, he remains as determined as ever.

“I have more experience compared to when I won the title and I am a few years older but I don’t feel [different], and I still have a great desire to race,” Raikkonen explained.

“As for rallying? Certainly I would like to do more of it but for now I’m completely focused on Formula 1.”

In terms of the championship, though, Raikkonen has written off his hopes of a second title this year, believing that Mercedes will continue to dominate as it has done so far this year.

“I think it is very difficult for anyone to battle with the Mercedes drivers but you never know,” he said. “I would like it to be us even if that will be hard, especially for me personally, given the position in the championship.

“But I have always been used to fighting and together with the team, which is still hard at work on the development of the F14 T, I hope to be able to get some good results.

“As I’ve said, we are doing an incredible amount of work and I think we will sort out our problems, but you need time. If we manage it before the end of the season the results will come because my motivation is intact.”

Here’s who were picking to win the Indy 500 — who are YOU picking?

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Several members of the NBC Sports motorsports staff have made their predictions on who will win Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Of the six voters, two are going with 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champ Josef Newgarden, while two others are going with Helio Castroneves to win a fourth 500, which would tie him with A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears.

Here’s our picks. Who are YOU picking?

Leigh Diffey: Helio Castroneves — He drives the place better than anyone else. For me (for what its worth) he deserves a fourth 500 ring for the frustration he went through never getting the IndyCar title!

Townsend Bell: Josef Newgarden

Nate Ryan: Simon Pagenaud — All of his 2018 misfortune on the track has disappeared in May, and it culminates in the biggest victory of his career.

Jerry Bonkowski: Helio Castroneves – There’s no pressure as he pursues his fourth Indy 500 win. All Helio has to do, as late NFL owner Al Davis would say, is “Just win, baby!” (But if Helio falls short, watch for Marco Andretti)

Kyle Lavigne: Josef Newgarden — I think he has everything he needs to get it done this year.

Dan Beaver: Robert Wickens – Has driven like anything except a rookie and his second-place finish at Phoenix proves he’s just as good on an oval as the road courses.

Follow: Jerry Bonkowski