FIA to Rule on Rookie Raikkonen (updated)

Finland's Kimi Raikkonen will know by Friday whether he is to be one of Formula One's least experienced newcomers next season or a frustrated reject.

FIA to Rule on Rookie Raikkonen <font face=Verdana size=1><i>(updated)</i></font>

Finland's Kimi Raikkonen will know by Friday whether he is to be one of Formula One's least experienced newcomers next season or a frustrated reject.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA)'s Formula One commission meets in Monaco on Thursday to rule on various issues including whether to grant a super licence to the 21-year-old Sauber hopeful.

The meeting is also expected to approve the use of electronic devices such as traction control.

The commission's decision will be passed on to the FIA council for final approval. An FIA spokeswoman said the outcome was expected to be announced on Friday.

The Swiss-based Sauber team want Raikkonen to partner 23-year-old German Nick Heidfeld, also a debutant last season, but the Finn has had only 23 car races to date.

Raikkonen won the British Formula Renault title last season but has not competed in Formula Three or Formula 3000, considered the feeder series to the elite.

The FIA must decide whether to grant a licence to the Finn, who was seventh fastest for Sauber in testing in Spain on Tuesday, or insist he gain more experience first.

Raikkonen would not be the youngest in Formula One -- Benetton's Jenson Button has done a full season at Williams and is still just 20 -- but the trend for young and relatively untested talent worries some.

Former world champion Keke Rosberg, manager of double champion and compatriot Mika Hakkinen, has spoken out against Raikkonen being allowed in just yet.

Changing World

"The world will change if Raikkonen gets a super licence," he said last month. "It will turn the whole driver market on its head."

Others have expressed fears that the importance of Formula Three and F3000 would be devalued.

Button arrived from British Formula Three after 44 race starts and tests with three Formula One teams.

Raikkonen, undoubtedly quick in testing, says he deserves a chance. "I've been racing in karts since I was eight and you drive closer to one another in those," he told Britain's weekly Autosport magazine.

"I may only have done 23 car races but I don't believe the number is a key issue."

Raikkonen said on Wednesday he would not let the matter affect his test with Sauber at Jerez. "This is just a normal test for me," he said at the Spanish circuit. "I am not thinking about the Formula One super licence at all.

"I obviously don't have a clue about how it will go. I haven't had any feedback about it and I will find out whether I will get it on Thursday.

"At the moment I am trying not to think about it and I am just enjoying the test. This is my first time at this circuit and it is good to get a feel for the car."

South African Tomas Scheckter, Jaguar's 20-year-old test driver and another F1 aspirant, was divided in his opinion.

"If he's good enough and he's quick enough then why not? But what I dislike about it is that then the other formulas are a waste of time. Why do people in Formula Three do Formula Three? Go back to Formula Renault," he said.

"You can start thinking they are going to get guys out of go-karts to start driving Formula One."

Various hi-tech driver aids will be discussed with the currently banned use of traction control systems looking certain to be re-introduced for the first time since 1993.

Traction control allows smoother starts, reducing wheelspin and giving more grip in corners and in the wet. It was banned by the FIA amid fears that it was making car control easier.

There have been claims that some teams have found ways to run disguised systems and legalising them would take away some suspicion. But many drivers are against traction control.

"I want to change my own gears and I don't want computers to help prevent wheelspin," said McLaren's David Coulthard.

"I think that traction control will not be good for pure driving," said Ferrari's Brazilian Rubens Barrichello. "That is what I like and it is one of the most enjoyable parts.

"But saying that, there are a lot of people who believe that some teams are already using traction control and I am all for equality. It is important for the cars to be similar."

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