It used to be that a racing driver would pick his form of motorsport at the beginning of his career and stick with it for the duration. Sure, there have been a few notable exceptions – especially among the Finns – but these days, it seems as if the exceptions are gaining on the norm. F1 drivers like Juan Pablo Montoya are moving to NASCAR, WRC aces like Sebastien Loeb and MotoGP champs like Valentio Rossi are trying their hand at F1, while F1 champs like Michael Schumacher are checking out motorbike racing. But the latest trend has a growing number of current, active Formula One drivers contesting rallies on the world stage.
The most notable is Kimi Raikkonen, who has driven a few rallies behind the wheel of his own Punto Abarth. Now that he's looking to sit out of the next F1 season, all indications are that the departing Ferrari driver will find his way into the WRC. While downplaying the lingering prospect of the 2007 Formula One champion racing for the newly-christened Mercedes Grand Prix team next season, his managers are reportedly hard at work to get him a WRC drive for 2010. The most likely scenario would place Raikkonen with Citroen: Both the French rally team and the Finnish driver are sponsored by Red Bull, and the rapprochement could could pave the way for Kimi to return to F1 in 2011 for Red Bull Racing.
Even Red Bull's current F1 ace, Sebastian Vettel, has reportedly expressed interest in trying his hand at rallying, although his team principal is reportedly against the idea. After winning the Nations Cup at the Race of Champions together with Schumacher three years running, the young German has certainly demonstrated the versatility of his talent.
Meanwhile, the highly-rated Robert Kubica is preparing for his second rally since leaving BMW Sauber for the Renault F1 team. After a dismal first attempt, the Pole is set to return to the wheel of a Renaultsport Clio R3 Maxi for the final round of the French Rally Championship at Var next weekend. If Kubica manages to finish this time around, we could yet see more F1 drivers following him onto the rally scene.
[Sources: Autosport and F1-Live | Image: Clive Mason/Getty]