Kimi Raikkonen Renault Kimi Raikkonen joins Lotus Renault © Lotus Renault

2007 Formula One world champion Kimi Raikkonen has made his long-awaited return to F1 signing for the Lotus Renault team for 2012.

The Finn has made no secret of his ambition to return to the sport he left two years ago to go rallying with the Citroen WRC team as well as try his hand at NASCAR.

And the 32-year-old vowed to come out fighting after a somewhat lacklustre end to his F1 career with Ferrari in 2009. "I wouldn't come back if I wasn't motivated," Raikkonen said. "There's always a lot of talk about motivation to race, but nobody really knows what I do or what I think apart from myself, so I don't really care what people think.

"I wouldn't put my name on the contract if I didn't think that I would really enjoy it. It will be exciting to get back."


null Kimi Raikkonen celebrates the 2007 F1 world title © Ferrari

Name: Kimi-Matias Raikkonen aka The Iceman
Date of birth: October 17, 1979
Place of birth: Espoo, Finland
Races entered: 180
Wins: 31
Podiums: 79
Teams: Sauber, McLaren, Ferrari, Lotus Renault
Record: F1 World Champion 2007, runner-up 2005 and 2003, third place 2008

Despite impressing at the highest level of rallying, despite limited experience in the discipline, Raikkonen had been repeatedly linked with a return to F1 - most recently with Williams after being seen at their HQ in Grove, Oxfordshire, UK, earlier this month.

But with Robert Kubica reluctantly admitting last week that he is unlikely to return to F1 next season, a seat became available at Lotus Renault and with it, a deal that takes Raikkonen to Enstone, on the other side of Oxford, for two years.

It make the Rally GB Raikkonen’s last appearance in rallying, but the Finn clearly feels he has unfinished business in F1. “I’m delighted to be coming back to Formula One after a two-year break, and I’m grateful to Lotus Renault GP for offering me this opportunity,” said Raikkonen. “My time in the World Rally Championship has been a useful stage in my career as a driver, but I can’t deny 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.” 

For Lotus Renault owner Gerard Lopez, the signing is the latest in his ambitious plans to move the team up the grid. "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,” he said.

"Kimi's decision to come back to Formula One with us is the first 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."


null Kimi Raikkonen's last rally at the WRC Rally GB © Citroen/McKlein

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