Sebastien Loeb expects Formula One exile Kimi Raikkonen to be competitive in the WRC this season.
Raikkonen makes his competitive debut in the Citroen C4 WRC today in the Arctic Rally, and Loeb believes Raikkonen’s proven speed in F1 and a strong showing in last year’s Rally Finland will ensure the Finn competes towards the top of the WRC leaderboard.
“It's very difficult to say straight away how he will get on,” Loeb told Autosport. “What we can look at is what he did on Rally Finland last year, when he was close to the pace in the Group N class. This was very good.
"It's easy to see he can drive the car, there's no doubting he's a very good driver. He's a Finn, he has been brought up on slippery surfaces and I'm sure he was playing around on them for a long time, it's natural that he will be good like the other Finnish drivers."
Raikkonen will line up against Loeb’s team mate Dani Sordo, who is competing at the event to build up his experience driving on snow and ice.
"I got to know the C4 a little bit during a test session close to the Citroen Racing workshops,” said Raikkonen. “This rally is a very good opportunity for me to work with the team in competitive conditions and continue my learning curve with the car.
“I took part in this rally last year with [co-driver] Kaj [Lindstrom] and as the route is largely the same. I think that could help us a bit."