Raikkonen back behind the wheel

Former Formula One world champion Kimi Raikkonen made his return to the track after two years away during a private test session with Lotus-Renault.

The Iceman drove a 2010-spec Renault R30 at Valencia due to the testing restriction.

Sporting a new helmet design on his return, Raikkonen took to the wheel of the Renault-powered car – painted in the team’s contemporary black and gold livery and using Pirelli’s demonstration-spec rubber – for an installation lap.

The Finn is taking part in a two-day session designed to help him reacclimatise himself with modern-spec Grand Prix machinery. His first test with the team’s 2012 car will take place at Jerez next month.

Raikkonen last raced in Formula One in 2009, when he was dropped by Ferrari and chose to switch to the World Rally Championship for the following year. He competed for only two seasons.

Keen to return to racing, however, Raikkonen briefly tried the NASCAR truck series last year before eventually agreeing a deal with Lotus to return to the sport this year.

“There were different choices for this year but I really wanted to do racing – I did some NASCAR last year and I really enjoyed competing against people again,” he said.

“It was then that I decided to do some racing again and F1 is the highest level of racing and where people want to be.

“It takes a little bit of time to get used to it, but the main bits of driving – braking, turning, the normal things – don’t take many laps. But learning about the car, the team and the tyres will take time.”

It’s so great to see the Iceman back in Formula One and the amount of attention from various motor racing websites and social network reveal how popular Kimi Raikkonen is. Hopefully, the Finn will rediscover his winning speed and can compete against the other champions on the grid this season with full confidence.

Video of Raikkonen in action at Valencia:

6 thoughts to “Raikkonen back behind the wheel”

  1. Niki Lauda says Kimi Raikkonen needs an exceptional car to return to his very best in Formula One. Story taken from Autosport.com.

    Kimi Raikkonen will only return to his very best in Formula 1 this year if Lotus is able to provide him with an exceptional car.

    That is the view of former world champion Niki Lauda, who welcomes the return of the 2007 title winner to F1 but thinks his potential will be very dependent on what machinery he is driving.

    “It’s excellent news that he will be back,” Lauda told AUTOSPORT. “He is an exceptional personality and will create huge interest and excitement with media and fans.

    “It is a good move for Renault or Lotus as the team is called now. It depends on how good the car will be, because Kimi will only shine in an excellent car.”

    Lauda believes that Sebastian Vettel’s rivals are also going to face a mammoth task if they want to overhaul the double champion – and he has not ruled out the German dominating the forthcoming season again.

    “Sebastian has gained a lot of confidence last year, and doesn’t make mistakes,” he said. “He will be the benchmark again. Who ever wants to beat him, must rely on a perfect car.”

    Speaking about his predictions for the 2012 season, Lauda added: “Right now nobody knows how the new cars will perform. However, from a logical point of view, Red Bull should be out in front again because they only have to modify the exhaust and the diffuser.

    “The loss in downforce will be regained by aerodynamic improvements. The question is: who will find the smartest solutions? Who had a very good car in 2011 has the advantage now too.

    “Red Bull had an excellent car last year and they only need to do further developments whereas, say, Mercedes have to build a proper new car. That includes the risk of going in the wrong direction, though they added some well-known technicians. The same for Ferrari.

    “It is easier to improve from a solid basis than to start from scratch. Having said that, we all have to wait for the first tests.”

  2. Kimi Raikkonen thinks it will still take him some time to fully return to his best in Formula 1, despite quickly settling back into the cockpit of a grand prix car at Valencia on Monday.

    The former world champion has begun a two-day test in a 2010-spec Renault R30 in a bid to reacclimatise himself with F1 machinery prior to his first run in the team’s 2012 machine at Jerez next month.

    Although the age of the car, plus the fact it is running on Pirelli demonstration rubber, means that lap times are meaningless, initial feedback from the team suggested that Raikkonen was showing well already.

    Speaking to Sky Sports News after a first run in the car, Raikkonen said he had little problem learning to drive an F1 car again – but said that understanding how to get the best out of the team and tyres was not going to be the work of the moment.

    “It was nice to get back in the car,” explained Raikkonen. “It was quite a few years since I have driven last time, [and] of course it takes a little while to get used to it. But the main driving, braking, turning, that doesn’t take many laps. But of course to start learning about the car and team and tyres, that will take time.”

    Raikkonen also suggested that he never took it for granted that he would make a return to F1 after he had embarked on a career in the World Rally Championship.

    When asked if he had expected to be back in F1, he said: “Not really. I didn’t have any plans for the future.

    “There were different choices to do this year and I really wanted to do racing. We did some NASCAR stuff last year and I enjoyed it a lot, racing against other people.

    “That is where I decided to do racing, and [if you are] doing racing, F1 is the highest level and probably where most people want to be. I found a good chance to come back and do racing with Lotus.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  3. Kimi Raikkonen impresses Lotus in his first test since returning to Formula 1. Autosport.com has the story.

    Lotus’s trackside operations engineer Alan Permane said Kimi Raikkonen proved on his first day back in a Formula 1 cockpit that his return to grand prix racing can be a success.

    Raikkonen is spending two days testing a 2010 Renault at Valencia this week as he settles back into F1 after two seasons in the World Rally Championship.

    No times were released from today’s test, and Raikkonen’s pace would not be representative as he is using demonstration tyres and an older car, but Permane said his quality had shown through.

    “From the first run he was pretty much there,” Permane told BBC Sport. “It’s very difficult to know where he should be but he was pretty much on the pace on the first run. He didn’t find a whole lot of pace during the day.

    “I don’t see any reason why he won’t be on the pace – you can tell he’s a very, very experienced driver.

    “It was very clear we were working with a former world champion. It was a good day.”

    Permane added that he could not understand why Raikkonen had a reputation for being uncommunicative, as he had got on well with the Lotus team so far.

    “He must have two faces – one for [the media],” Permane said. “He’s perfectly normal. “He was very happy to sit and talk about the car for as long as it takes. He’s very open.”

  4. Kimi Raikkonen is set for more intense running on the second day of his comeback Formula 1 test with Lotus on Tuesday.

    The Finn completed just over 300km in a 2010-specification Renault R30 at Valencia on Monday using three sets of Pirelli’s very durable demonstration tyres.

    He has four sets of Pirellis available for Tuesday’s running and is scheduled to complete more laps than on the first day as the team is hoping to give him more long runs as part of a wider-ranging programme.

    “We’ll do some more high and low-fuel runs,” Lotus track operations director Alan Permane told AUTOSPORT on Monday. “And there will be a few more set-up changes as we did some basic ones today.

    “There will also be some procedural stuff like starts that will be subtly different to what he experienced at Ferrari, just to get him up to speed before he drives the new car.”

    Lotus has structured its running around Raikkonen’s needs, with re-acclimatising to F1 his priority ahead of the first pre-season test at Jerez, which starts on February 7.

    As Raikkonen left F1 before refuelling was banned in 2010, giving him experience of varying fuel loads is also key.

    “It isn’t a traditional test, it’s more about doing what he wants and getting him up to speed,” said Permane.

    “We wrote a run-plan and pretty much stuck to it [on Monday]. But I said to Kimi in the morning that the test is really for you and that if you want to do something different, that’s fine, let us know.

    “But he just got on with it. We did a few little set-up changes and ran the car on a very high fuel load because that’s something he didn’t do as he left F1 before the refuelling ban came in.

    “So it gave him a feel of the car on 150kg [fuel levels] when there’s a difference of four or five seconds a lap. The plan is for more of the same on Tuesday.”

    Raikkonen is looking forward to the extra mileage on what is his first experience of an F1 car since November 2009.

    “Obviously you get more into the zone with the more laps you complete as you discover more about the car and the tyres,” he said.

    Source: Autosport.com

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