Kimi Raikkonen eyeing more NASCAR races after F1 career

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Kimi Raikkonen has said that he would like to do some more NASCAR races once he has retired from Formula 1.

Currently racing for Ferrari, the popular Finn has always said that he would end his F1 career with the Italian team, having returned to Maranello for the 2014 season after five years away.

During that period, Raikkonen spent two years out of the sport sampling a variety of other series, including NASCAR.

At the 2011 Top Gear 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway (where he is pictured) Raikkonen finished 27th, one week after he had finished 15th for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 race as part of the Camping World Truck Series.

Speaking to CNN, Raikkonen said that he would like to race in NASCAR once again once he is done with F1.

“I really enjoy the whole NASCAR thing,” he said. “It’s just completely different and fun. It was a good experience. Hopefully I can do more some day.”

Raikkonen had said in the past that he would most probably retire at the end of his Ferrari contract, but he is now looking to extend this by another year to the end of the 2016 season.

“I have a contract for next year and probably for one more year, but I’m not a young guy anymore,” said the Finn, who turns 35 today. “I want to do something more with my life than just Formula 1.

“I will finish my career at Ferrari. I never lost the passion. I will stop the day when I feel I don’t enjoy it anymore.”

Raikkonen’s motivation has been brought into question many times this season due to his reserved and somewhat aloof nature. However, he does look set to remain with the team for next season, with Sebastian Vettel likely to join as Fernando Alonso’s replacement.

Max Verstappen shows speed in Austria; Lewis Hamilton lacking pace

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SPIELBERG, Austria — Red Bull driver Max Verstappen posted the fastest time Friday, and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton lacked pace in the second practice session for the Styrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen was 0.043 seconds quicker than Valtteri Bottas – Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes – and 0.217 ahead of Racing Point driver Sergio Perez.

“The car already feels better than last week, the balance is a lot nicer and we have made a good step,” said Verstappen, who did not finish last Sunday’s season-opening Austrian GP after starting from second.

“It is too early to say how we are looking against Mercedes, but we are quite happy. We have tried a few different directions to understand the car a bit more and we are heading the right way.”

Hamilton was only sixth fastest, about 0.7 seconds slower than Verstappen. Hamilton spent a chunk of time in the garage while his team worked on his car.

“It was quite far off, so there’s a lot of work to do in the background to figure it out,” he said. “Others out there are quick and Valtteri’s obviously got good pace.”

Despite adding a new front wing to its car, struggling Ferrari had a dismal afternoon.

Charles Leclerc was only ninth quickest and 1 second slower than Verstappen, while teammate Sebastian Vettel lagged about 2 seconds behind Verstappen in 16th.

Daniel Ricciardo lost control of his Renault car early into the second session, swerving left off the track and thudding backward into a protective tire wall. He climbed out unharmed, other than a slight limp, but the left rear tire was mangled and the car was lifted off the track by a crane.

Alexander Albon spun twice, the Red Bull driver’s second spin taking him right off the track and into gravel.

Earlier, Perez was fastest in the first practice ahead of Verstappen and Bottas, with Hamilton fourth quickest and Vettel only 10th in sunny conditions.

That session was briefly interrupted when Nicholas Latifi’s Williams car pulled over to the side with a gearbox issue.

The incident brought out yellow flags, forcing drivers to slow down. But McLaren driver Lando Norris overtook Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri and got a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

Norris, 20, finished third at the Austrian GP last weekend, becoming the youngest British driver in F1 history to get on the podium and third youngest in F1.

The upcoming race is changing names from last week but is at the same track. It is surrounded by the Styrian mountains.

A third and final practice will be held on Saturday morning before qualifying in the afternoon, with heavy rain and storms in the forecast.

If third practice and qualifying are washed out, drivers take their grid positions from where they placed in second practice.

“It would definitely suck if we didn’t get to qualify,” said Hamilton, who started fifth and finished fourth last weekend. “It would make it challenging.”

However, qualifying also could be moved to Sunday morning.

“I don’t expect to be on pole position with this (practice) lap,” Verstappen said.