Raikkonen returns with Lotus Renault in 2012
Lotus Renault has confirmed that Kimi Raikkonen will return to Formula One in 2012 after the 2007 World Champion signed a two-year contract with the team.
Raikkonen had previously been linked with a drive at Williams after displaying an interest to return to the sport he left in 2009. However, after Robert Kubica confirmed that he was not going to be fit to return by the start of 2012, Lotus Renault has moved to secure Raikkonen's services as its lead driver. Having pursued a rallying career since leaving Formula One, Raikkonen said that it had been clear that he wanted to return for some time.
"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 said. "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."
With Raikkonen having taken 18 grand prix victories in his career to date, chairman of Lotus Renault owners Genii Capital, Gerard Lopez, said that he was looking forward to having a world champion in the team.
"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."