2007 Formula 1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen has been warned about just how aggressive racing is in NASCAR, as the Iceman prepares for his Cup Series debut at Watkins Glen.
Raikkonen is set to take part in a one-off appearance in the NASCAR Cup Series at Watkins Glen, as part of Trackhouse’s Project 91.
The Finnish driver’s team-mate for the race, Daniel Suarez, has been impressed by what he’s already seen from the recent F1 retiree, but has sent the Finn a stern warning of what to expect.
“I think he’ll be fast,” the NASCAR race winner told Motorsport.com.
“The speed is there, and the racing part will be a process because it doesn’t matter how much you practice in the simulator, doesn’t matter how many tests you do, the racing part is the racing part.
“It’s different and he doesn’t know all these drivers. He doesn’t know how they race, he doesn’t know how aggressive they are, so that part will take a little bit.
“You can bring the best driver in the world and it would take some time in the racing part. I think [as far as] the speed, I think he’ll be good.”
NASCAR is unlike virtually any road series in the world, with so much for the driver to take care of.
Raikkonen recently undertook his driver orientation on the Virginia International Raceway road course, where he was behind the wheel of a Chevrolet Camaro.
The Finn, who retired from F1 at the end of 2021, said he got an understanding of what the car is “somewhat doing”, with Suarez having guided him through the “process” of driving one of the American beasts.
“Racing, restarts, taking care of your tyres, taking care of your brakes, pit-stops…that part of the racing is what it takes to win races,” said the 30-year-old.
“That’s the part I feel like will be a process for him, just because he has never done it before.
“That said, he did pit-stop practice a couple of days ago and did well. There was a couple of things he was doing and I told him ‘hey, you need to do this this way, you need to do this different, because the transmission works this way and you have to use your blower’.
“I tried to guide him as much as I can, and I really feel he is trying to prepare himself as good as he can. If I was to do a race in Europe one day, I wish I could prepare myself the way he’s doing it.”
Suarez has very high hopes for Raikkonen’s debut, with the 30-year-old excited to see what Raikkonen “can do”
He even admitted to having learned a few things from the man of very few words, who he labelled as an “amazing race car driver”.
“It was good,” he said.
“I felt like Kimi….I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can from him because he’s an amazing race car driver.
“I believe a race car driver is great not just because of driving, I think it’s just everything else around him. How he thinks and how open or closed minded he or she is.
“And in this case he’s having a great time, and he’s not just here to have fun but he’s here to be a competitor and wants to do well.
“So it’s been a lot of fun to work with him the last few days and I’m really looking forward to seeing what he can do.”