Kimi Raikkonen will return to Formula One in 2012 after signing a two-year deal with Lotus Renault GP….
Former World Champion Kimi Raikkonen will return to Formula One in 2012 after signing a two-year contract with Lotus Renault GP.
The Finn was strongly linked with a move to Williams just a few week ago, but Renault have pounced for his signature after it was confirmed that Robert Kubica will miss the start of next season due to the injuries he sustained during a rallying accident earlier this year.
Raikkonen, who won the World title with Ferrari in 2007, left F1 at the end of the 2009 season to pursue a career in rallying but says his “hunger for F1 has recently become overwhelming”.
“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,” Raikkonen told the official Renault website.
“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.”
Gerard Lopez, chairman of Genii Capital, feels Raikkonen will help them to be serious contenders in the future.
“All year long, we kept saying that our team was at the start of a brand new cycle,” Lopez said.
“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.”
Renault, who will race as Lotus from 2012, are yet to confirm who will partner the Finn next year as Vitaly Petrov, Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean are all in contention for the second race seat.
Raikkonen’s return to F1 means there will six World Champions on the grid next year as the Finn will line up next to Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel.