Kimi Raikkonen, 2007 world champion, has returned to Formula One (F1) by signing a two-year contract with the Lotus Renault GP team, making a comeback after switching to rally driving in 2009.
The talk of Raikkonen returning to the pinnacle of motorsports with Williams was doing the rounds in the F1 circles but the Finnish driver inked a deal with another British-based team Lotus Renault, which will be called Lotus from the 2012 season.
“I am delighted to be coming back to Formula 1 after a two-year break, and I am grateful to Lotus Renault GP for offering me this opportunity," said Raikkonen in a release.
Raikkonen said that his stint in the World Rally Championship was a "useful" experience and hunger for more success in F1 brought him back to the sport.
"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 am looking forward to playing an important role in pushing the team to the front of the grid.”
Raikkonen made his F1 debut in 2001 Australian Grand Prix with Sauber before moving to McLaren for the next five seasons. His only title till date came with the Ferrari in 2007. The 32-year-old has 18 Grand Prix wins to his credit.
On his association with Raikkonen, Lotus Renault team owner Gérard Lopez said: “All year long, we kept saying that our team was at the start of a brand new cycle. We have 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."
Lotus Renault ended the 2011 season at fifth place in the Constructor's Championship with 73 points.