Raikkonen enjoys "older-style" racing without DRS in NASCAR

Former Formula 1 driver Kimi Raikkonen says competing in NASCAR feels like "a normal older-style F1 racing" and enjoys that "people can actually overtake without the DRS".

The 2007 world champion is making his second race outing in the NASCAR Cup Series at Circuit of the Americas this weekend, rejoining the Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet team with which he made his debut at Watkins Glen last year.

The Finn, who retired from F1 at the end of the 2021 season after making 349 race starts, will start 22nd in tomorrow's race, two positions ahead of NASCAR Cup rookie Jenson Button after they were only 0.033s apart in lap times.

Speaking at Austin on Saturday, Raikkonen said one of NASCAR's main appeals was the way the low-downforce stock cars are able to race each other without any reliance on any movable aerodynamic devices, such as the Drag Reduction System which has been used in F1 since 2011.

"There are places you can overtake, and especially in F1, you don’t get a lot of circuits you can have a good race," he said.

"People can actually overtake without the DRS, and it feels more like a normal older-style F1 racing."

Expanding on the differences between F1 and NASCAR, he added: "The racing is slightly different because in F1 with open wheels, if you touch somebody you usually lose a car or lose the wheel.

"You cannot really take that risk in F1 that much because you lose tiny parts of the car, and your car is suddenly a second slower than it should be.

"In NASCAR, you can have a bit more closer racing. Obviously, the rules are different, they’re more open here.

"I think it’s more of if you kind of behave, well they’ll behave a similar way against you the way I’ve understood. It makes it more exciting at the end of the races when people can be quite aggressive."

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A521, Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Racing C41

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A521, Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Racing C41

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Raikkonen explained that the circuit is very different to drive in NASCAR compared to F1, as the nature of several corners at COTA are changed by having less downforce.

The 2018 US Grand Prix winner at COTA with Ferrari particularly cited Turns 17 and 18, which "are pretty easy and flat for those [F1] cars".

"Probably the most tricky corners for NASCAR, they’re not really for F1 cars because of the downforce," he said. "It makes a huge difference in the track.

"All of the bumps the track has in F1 you get away with a lot because, again, the downforce helps and you don’t really feel it.

"But in a NASCAR car, the effect is quite big. It makes it a much more tricky track to drive and to get the car somewhat working as you wish.

"It’s a completely different track in many ways. It sounds stupid because it’s the same track, but the car makes it a lot different."

NASCAR has also removed stage breaks for road course events, allowing the race to play out more naturally than in the past.

He also acknowledged that the car felt "more tail-happy" as a result of NASCAR removing significant amount of downforce for events at short tracks and road courses.


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