Raikkonen makes Formula One return with Lotus Renault

Kimi Raikkonen will return to Formula One racing next season following the news announcement at Lotus Renault.

The Iceman, who left the sport at the end of 2009 season after being dropped by Scuderia Ferrari, had been in talks with the Williams team about a possible return next year, but the deal fell through.

From that a speculation of a Renault tie-up was push forward, with team principal Eric Boullier confirming in Brazil last weekend that the Finn was on the shortlist of candidates for 2012 – when his outfit will be renamed Lotus.

Speaking about his return, Raikkonen said: “I’m delighted to be coming back to Formula 1 after a two-year break, and I’m grateful to Lotus Renault GP for offering me this opportunity. My time in the World Rally Championship has been a useful stage in my career as a driver, but I can’t deny the fact that my hunger for F1 has recently become overwhelming.

“It was an easy choice to return with Lotus Renault GP as I have been impressed by the scope of the team’s ambition. Now I’m looking forward to playing an important role in pushing the team to the very front of the grid.”

Team owner Gerard Lopez added: “All year long, we kept saying that our team was at the start of a brand new cycle. Backstage we’ve been working hard to build the foundations of a successful structure and to ensure that we would soon be able to fight at the highest level.

“Kimi’s decision to come back to Formula 1 with us is the first step of several announcements which should turn us into an even more serious contender in the future. Of course, we are all looking forward to working with a world champion. On behalf of our staff, I’d like to welcome Kimi to Enstone, a setting that has always been known for its human approach to Formula 1.”

Raikkonen, 32, moved from Formula 1 to the World Rally Championship in 2010, where he spent the last two seasons while also competing in one race of the NASCAR Truck series and one Nationwide event.

The Finn won the Formula 1 world championship in 2007 with Ferrari, having scored a total of 18 wins since he made his Grand Prix debut in 2001 with Sauber.

Renault was forced to search for another driver after Robert Kubica confirmed last week that he would not be ready to start the 2012 season following his dramatic accident in February.

Raikkonen’s return means a record six world champions will compete alongside each other. He joins Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher.

It will be fascinating to see how the Iceman will cope with the new Pirelli tyres, KERS and DRS since he last left the sport.

Video interview with Kimi Raikkonen:

11 thoughts to “Raikkonen makes Formula One return with Lotus Renault”

  1. Kimi Raikkonen says there are is no question about his motivation ahead of his return to Formula 1 with the Lotus Renault team next year.

    The Finn left the sport at the end of 2009 to compete in the World Rally Championship for the past two seasons, but has now secured a two-year deal with the team to return to grand prix racing in 2012.

    Raikkonen, a world champion with Ferrari in 2007, says he would not have returned to Formula 1 if his motivation was not high.

    “I wouldn’t have come back if I wasn’t motivated,” said Raikkonen in a video interview with the team.

    “There is always a lot of talk about the motivation but nobody really knows what I do or what I think except for myself, so I don’t really care about what people say.

    “I enjoy to come back. I wouldn’t put my name in a contract if I didn’t think I’d enjoy it. It will be interesting. It will be exciting to get back.”

    The 32-year-old insisted he never stopped enjoying racing in Formula 1, but rather other things away from the race track.

    Raikkonen said his two outings in NASCAR made him realise how much he was missing racing against other drivers.

    “I never really lost the passion in racing in Formula 1, but maybe all the things around it,” he said. “But I did some NASCAR races earlier this year and I started to miss the racing more and more and racing against each other, because in rallying it’s against the clock, really. That’s what I was missing.

    “I got the call from certain people in Formula 1 and certain things happened and then we managed to have a nice conversation with Lotus Renault and ended up making a deal with them, so I’m very happy with that.”

    The Finn was also in talks with Williams before signing his Renault deal, but said things worked out better with the latter.

    “There were two options,” he said. “It was either this team or Williams and in the end everything worked out with Lotus Renault as we wanted, so that’s really the reason [to have chosen Renault].”

    Source: Autosport.com

  2. With the new signing of Kimi Raikkonen at Lotus Renault, the team has said there is still a possibility for Robert Kubica to make a return too. Autosport.com has the story.

    Renault still wants to hold talks with Robert Kubica to see if there is a possibility for him at the team next year, despite signing up Kimi Raikkonen for 2012.

    With Kubica having been unable to guarantee the outfit he will be ready for the start of winter testing, Renault moved quickly to secure the F1 return of Raikkonen with a two-year deal.

    And although Renault has a contract in place with Vitaly Petrov for next season, team principal Eric Boullier admitted on Tuesday that the outfit was still open-minded about its plans for the second seat – and could not rule out Kubica taking that slot later in the campaign if he is fit.

    “All the scenarios are possible,” Boullier told AUTOSPORT. “I need to sit down with Robert and his manager to understand what is the timescale for him to come back.

    “We have confirmed Kimi and we will confirm the second seat when we are ready to confirm it.”

    When asked if that meant the team did actually need to make a decision on the second seat, with Petrov having a deal in place, Boullier said: “Yes. It will be soon.”

    Petrov’s manager Oksana Kosachenko told the RIA Novosti that Renault has given the Russian 10 days to decide on his future.

    “After today’s decision was announced, I was given a very short amount of time, literally ten days. We have until December 10 to decide if Vitaly stays or leaves,” Kosachenko said.

    AUTOSPORT understands that the main contenders for the second seat are Petrov, Romain Grosjean and Bruno Senna – with Rubens Barrichello and Heikki Kovalainen as outsider candidates.

    Boullier has made it clear that Renault will only move to help Kubica get back up to racing speed, with the provision of old cars and simulator facilities, if the Polish driver offers a long-term commitment to the team.

    Speculation in recent weeks has suggested that Kubica could actually return in a testing role with Ferrari – although the Maranello-based outfit has played down such a suggestion.

    When asked about the possibility of Kubica using Ferrari’s facilities, or testing one of its cars, team principal Stefano Domenicali said: “No. Not really. If you remember we are speaking about drivers for Ferrari since January of last year, so I think that maybe next week we come with the Valentino Rossi position! So, no.”

  3. Former grand prix driver Jean Alesi believes the Lotus Renault team will get a boost from the arrival of Kimi Raikkonen.

    The 2007 world champion has signed a two-year deal with the team and will return to grand prix action in 2012 after leaving the sport at the end of the 2009 season.

    Alesi believes the arrival of Raikkonen is great news for Renault, which will race under the Lotus name next year.

    “It’s fantastic news,” said Alesi, now working as an ambassador for Group Lotus. “Kimi has more natural speed than just about anyone who has ever raced a Grand Prix car, and if he’s coming back it’s because he wants to do it, he misses F1, and he believes he can do well.

    “He has had a short break, which was a little bit forced by Ferrari. I think he was fed up with the system and wanted to take time out, which I can totally understand. But now he’s coming back, with Lotus, so it’s really exciting.

    Alesi expects Raikkonen to be able to get the maximum out of next year’s car despite his absence from Formula 1.

    He added: “The great thing with Kimi is he extracts the maximum from a quick car. When the car was good at McLaren and Ferrari he was always winning. LRGP will expect him to extract the maximum from the Lotus as well.”

    The Frenchman reckons that Raikkonen’s natural speed will be a “very valuable” to help the team move forward.

    “F1 teams need a driver who will consistently set laptimes that are 100 per cent on the edge,” he said. “That is what a driver of Kimi’s caliber can do, to dance on the edge and never fall off. From that, the engineers get a baseline.

    “They understand the true speed of their car and can make changes accordingly. It eradicates any doubt. I expect Kimi will be a very valuable tool indeed. But I don’t expect a lot of talking outside the car! I’m sure he hasn’t changed a bit.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  4. Lotus Renault team boss Eric Boullier is positive that Kimi Raikkonen will deliver when he returns back to Formula One next year. Autosport.com has the details.

    Renault has no doubts that Kimi Raikkonen is fully fired up for his Formula 1 return, and will be able to deliver at his best straight away.

    Although the manner of Raikkonen’s exit from F1 after a disappointing 2009 campaign has left some questioning his motivation, Renault team principal Eric Boullier is convinced that the Finn is ready to prove his doubters wrong.

    “Kimi is very motivated and determined to come back, so he convinced us,” Boullier told AUTOSPORT.

    “You can feel it, and discuss it. Also, there are some people around him who confirmed he is very motivated. We don’t need to speak much about the motivation. We know he wants to be back.”

    Raikkonen is due to make his first official visit to Renault’s Enstone factory later this week, as the team begins proper preparations for the 2007 champion’s F1 comeback.

    Boullier believes that Raikkonen’s presence at the outfit will be a major boost as it bids to recover from a disappointing season.

    “If Kimi is coming back to F1 after two years of not racing in F1, it is because he is a world champion and everyone knows about his speed,” said Boullier.

    “It is very good news for the team and shows it has big ambitions for the future. An F1 world champion obviously makes a difference and I think his expectation and level of commitment will be at the level of a high class driver, so I am very excited and very happy to work with him.”

    He added: “We clearly have this season behind us and we look forward to racing next season, and definitely we will make some differences over the course of the next three months.

    “Genii are backing us very strongly. They want Lotus to be a top team and our aim is to fight and be on the podium. We have some very exciting announcements coming and that will be key to the future.”

  5. Renault team owner Gerard Lopez says questions about Kimi Raikkonen’s motivation in returning to Formula 1 will only make the 2007 world champion more determined to succeed.

    After two years in the World Rally Championship, Raikkonen is rejoining grand prix racing in 2012 with what will then be called the Lotus team.

    The Finn’s motivation level was often called into question during the latter stages of his original F1 career and in his WRC stint, but speaking during Raikkonen’s first visit to the team’s Enstone factory on Friday, Lopez said he was confident this was not an issue anymore.

    “Kimi has proven in the past that he is among the fastest and in terms of age he’s still in his prime,” said Lopez.

    “In terms of motivation from what I have seen and spoken to him, he is probably as motivated as ever. And the more people question the better it is because it is going to increase his motivation even more to prove that they are wrong.

    “I’m excited that he is here because I think it’s one of the very important steps in getting the team to where we want it to be – which is one of the top teams in Formula 1.”

    Lopez feels that as a proven world champion, Raikkonen will be the benchmark Renault needs to judge its competitiveness as it tries to get back to the top.

    “I think we decided that we had to look forward in terms of performance and the key way to see how good a car is, is to have a good driver,” he said.

    Raikkonen said he was pleased with the welcome he received at the team’s base yesterday, and that he was feeling relaxed about the task ahead.

    “It is my first time in Enstone,” he said, “so it is very nice to see the factory – it feels good. It is a very warm feeling and I’m very relaxed.

    “I haven’t really read the newspapers about all the excitement but it is quite normal, isn’t it? It doesn’t put any more pressure on me. I always try to do my best, so I don’t put myself under pressure. It will be exciting, yes, but no pressure really and we will see how it goes.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  6. The identity of Kimi Raikkonen’s team-mate at Lotus Renault remains unknown but Vitaly Petrov is quite keen to stay at the team. Autosport.com has the details.

    Vitaly Petrov is keen to stay at Renault next season and would relish the chance to race alongside Kimi Raikkonen.

    Although the Russian’s future with the outfit is in doubt, amid reports that it is evaluating other options for its second seat in 2012, Petrov has declared himself keen to remain there.

    And he reckons that he would do a much better job next year than he did this season, when errors on both his and the team’s side resulted in a disappointing campaign.

    “I think the team did a big construction, changed a lot of stuff with the team and drivers, and they want to be sure we can do it together,” said Petrov in an interview with the official Race of Champions website about his future situation.

    “I know this year was a not a good example from my side but sorry, I am still a rookie. I did just two years in F1, so now I learn a lot so I can do the third season much, much better.

    “In 2010 I did mistakes that I didn’t do in 2011, so I have a big step improvement. In 2010 you could see how difficult it was to fight with Robert Kubica and be a top guy, but in 2011 I improved quite a lot.

    “I can do it. I was still doing some mistakes, but F1 it is not the easiest of sports. But can you imagine what I can do in 2012? So I will again have one more step and, together with Kimi, together in one team, it will be good fun.

    “He is experienced and I want very much to be part of this team. I hope the team takes the right decision and we wait a few days more. I hope to stay with the same team because I love very much this team.

    “I like the people, working with the mechanics and engineers, so it feels like a family. They gave me the opportunity to drive. I don’t want to change to another team, so I cross my fingers and wait for the answer.”

    Petrov believes the troubled 2011 campaign, and the difficulties he and the team faced, gave him a learning opportunity that he will unlikely never experience again.

    “For me there is nothing to lose,” he said. “I learn a lot from the 2011 season. I learn very much – and I will never learn so much, even in the future, because we have so many problems.

    “I need to adapt my driving for this car to develop new things in the car. I have a big step in my head and a feeling of improvement. Together with Kimi, he is a world champion, and he is motivated and funny.

    “I watch a lot of videos of him, from previous years, and we are very close nationality [wise] so I hope I can stay together with him for next year.”

  7. Hmmmm, I’m not sure what to make of this.

    I like Kimi despite not being able to make out a single thing he says. Thing is, you don’t get chance to hear him much and get used to his mutterings cos he hates talking to anyone!

    Lotus Renault are in a weird place too, so to get Kimi, while a great name, can he really be the one to push the team forward? Is he really going to be able to get them to gel and make a so, so car into a great car? Unless he has changed I doubt it.

    However, it’ll be great to see him back, I have no doubt he be hungry to do well and perform more incredible moves and that we know he can do despite him not being on £50m. Besides, it now means the driver line-up has SIX champions! Imagine they all have decent competitive cars. Schumacher has proven, that given the best car on the day, he still has it. Maybe if Lotus Renault can real good, then the Kimi of old can still put up a decent challenge.

    One things for sure, the Citroen WRC team won’t be ordering as many body panels next year!

  8. I’m really excited by the prospect of seeing Kimi Raikkonen making his return to Formula One. The Iceman is a very popular driver despite his mono-voice when being interviewed by the press.

    In fact, Kimi is only interested in the driving aspect of Formula One racing and really hates the politics and media side of the sport. That’s why he doesn’t say a lot when being questioned from the world’s press. He lets his driving do the talking!

    What I am concerned is his preparation to get back on terms. With limited testing, especially with the Pirelli tyres, KERS and DRS, the Finn will need to fast track (not pun intended!) in order to become competitive. I reckon it will take a couple of races until Raikkonen gets back in the groove of racing.

    But the biggest test will be Lotus Renault. The team needs to build a good car that is capable of scoring regular points or maybe a win. If next year’s car can give Raikkonen a chance then it will be great for the Iceman and his many fans. If not, expect to see him fighting over at best sixth position. Will Kimi maintain his motivation if he cannot score wins? We shall see next year.

  9. Kimi Raikkonen is adamant he will be as fast as he was before leaving Formula 1 when he returns to grand prix racing with Lotus next year.

    The Finn has secured a two-year deal with the team and will make his comeback in 2012 after a two-season absence from Formula 1.

    Raikkonen, the world champion in 2007, says his motivation is higher than ever before and is confident he will be as quick as he was before he went rallying.

    “I am more motivated than ever and I don’t think I’ve lost any speed,” said Raikkonen on Lotus Renault’s website. “Getting on top of the tyres will be the hardest thing, of course, but I’m not really worried.

    “Although the technical regulations don’t seem to change much, they apply to a lot of areas and quite a few elements will have to be re-designed. As a result, the cars will be significantly different next year. The order could be shaken up, which will make things very interesting.”

    The Finn says his visits to the team’s factory have left him upbeat about his prospects for the year ahead.

    He added: “My two visits to Enstone have been great. The first one, at the team’s Christmas party, made me realise how much support I have there. The second one, last week, allowed me to understand that this team has not been world champion by coincidence.

    “I also saw all the investments they have made recently: new simulator building, CFD upgrade, 60 per cent wind tunnel… It gives me a lot of confidence for the season ahead.

    “I have been surprised at how big the reaction has been so I guess people must have missed me!”

    He said returning to Formula 1 is like coming back home after two years in the WRC.

    “Let’s put it this way: before my two years of rallying I had nine seasons, 157 races and 18 wins in Formula 1. I know the sport well. When I went to rallying and when I tried NASCAR, there were many new things to learn, but with Formula 1 I feel like I’m coming home. I can’t wait to get behind the wheel.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  10. With the news that Kimi Raikkonen is returning back to Formula One in 2012, the 1996 world champion Damon Hill believes the Finn has “a couple of more world F1 championships” in him. Autopsort.com has the story.

    Damon Hill believes Kimi Raikkonen has “a couple of more world championships” in him, and reckons returning to the sport at the age of 32 should not be a problem for the Finn.

    Raikkonen left Formula 1 at the end of the 2009 season to compete in the World Rally Championship, but he will make his comeback next year after signing a two-year deal with the Lotus Renault team.

    The Finn, regarded as one of the quickest drivers of his era, won the title in 2007 with Ferrari and has 18 grand prix victories to his name.

    Former world champion Hill thinks Raikkonen’s return is good for Formula 1, and he believes the Finn can still be champion again.

    “It is great – and good luck to him,” Hill told AUTOSPORT. “He is going to have to show that he has still got it, which he has got a good team to show that in, and he is still young.

    “He has won a world championship already, and I had only just got into F1 at his age, so he has definitely got a couple of more world championships in him.”

    Hill, who retired from the sport at the end of the 1999 season, said he would also like to see a “titanic” battle for the titles next year, the Briton hoping Red Bull’s rivals can push the team harder in 2012 after a dominant 2011.

    “We want to see someone upset the applecart, although I think Adrian [Newey] is fantastic, and [Sebastian] Vettel, [Mark] Webber and Red Bull Racing is a great team at the front – and they seem to be fun loving,” he said.

    “It is good to have that – but I know that they want to fight for it. They don’t want it too easy. So a good titanic battle between three top teams would be fantastic to see.”

    Hill, however, said that despite Sebastian Vettel’s dominance, the past season was thrilling.

    He feels 2011 showed Formula 1 is in good shape, but he stressed the need to recognise the importance Europe has for the sport.

    “Yes, I thought it was very exciting. It was a brilliant season. The sport is good, but there is still a lot that needs discussing. It is fantastic entertainment, but I just know that Europe and Great Britain is important to the sport.

    “I think that is worth emphasising – it is not all about the bottom line. It is about going to place where people understand and appreciate the sport and they should not be denied access to it.”

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