Kimi Raikkonen, the former world champion, has signed a new two-year deal and will return to Formula 1 next season. The deal has been signed with Renault who will become Lotus next year. He also had talks with Williams to make his comeback, to replace Rubens Barrichello, but the deal fell through.
The 32 year-old Finn, who left Formula 1 at the end of the 2009 season to take up rallying, said “My hunger for F1 has recently become overwhelming. It was an easy choice to return with Lotus Renault GP.” He went on to say “My time in the World Rally Championship has been a useful stage in my career as a driver.”
Raikkonen won the title with Ferrari in 2007, added: “I have been impressed by the scope of the Renault’s ambition. Now I’m looking forward to playing an important role in pushing the team to the very front of the grid.”
Last week Renault announced that Robert Kubica would not return to the sport next season. Kubica was injured in a rallying accident last February. The pole’s manager was still confident that he would return in 2012.
Raikkonen’s F1 Career
• F1 debut: 2001 Australian Grand Prix
• Former teams: Sauber, McLaren, Ferrari
• Poles: 16
• Podiums: 62
• Wins: 18
• Titles: 1
• Career points: 579
On Tuesday, Renault confirmed that Raikkonen, would return in the seat. He is likely to be partnered by Russian F1 driver Vitaly Petrov, who has just finished his second season with Renault.
Raikkonen started his F1 career with Sauber in 2001 scoring a single point on his first race at the Australian Grand Prix. He moved to McLaren in 2002 before moving to Ferrari in 2007 where he later became F1 Champion.
Raikkonen’s return means that a quarter of all the drivers in F1 will be current or former world champions. This will create such a depth of talent unmatched at any other time in F1. However it will be interesting to see if he still has the hunger to win in a car that may not be able to be able to compete with the big boys.
In the final F1 race of 2007 he trailed Lewis Hamilton by seven points. Hamilton suffered gearbox problems and finished seventh leaving Raikkonen to win the title by a single point.
He found it difficult to recapture the same form in the next two seasons, finding himself outperformed by team-mate Felipe Massa on many occasions. He left Ferrari at the end of 2009 when Ferrari bought in double world champion Fernando Alonso.
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