Flying Finn Kimi Räikkönen is to return to Formula One racing next season after signing a two-year deal with Lotus Renault GP, the team announced on Tuesday.
The 2007 world champion with Ferrari left the sport in a surprise move in 2009 to pursue a career in rallying but has decided to return with Lotus Renault after talks with Williams fell through.
“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,” Räikkönen told the team’s website, Lotusrenaultgp.com.
“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.”
The 32-year-old Räikkönen notched 18 Grand Prix race wins with Ferrari in his first spell in Formula One and Lotus Renault owner Gerard Lopez said he was delighted to have hired a driver of his experience.
“All year long, we kept saying that our team was at the start of a brand new cycle,” he 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.” — AFP