The Return of Räikkönen
Kimi is coming back. The Ice Man melted away from Formula 1 after winning the world championship in dramatic fashion, and then losing motivation despite a $50m retainer at Ferrari.
Luca Montezemolo showed him the door with a handsome severance package and brought in Fernando Alonso.
Kimi Raikkonen – the Espoo enigma – runs his own show. One of the most gifted and naturally talented drivers ever to sit in the cockpit of a racing car, he was linked to Williams but then news came he was demanding a 20% stake in the team.
Renault-Lotus has now confirmed Raikkonen for 2012. The Finn’s arrival signals the departure of their injured driver Robert Kubica. The Polish star recently conveyed to the Enstone-based team his unavailability for the start of the season. Still recovering from serious rallying injuries earlier in the year, Kubica is now reported to be on Ferrari’s radar and some sources even suggesting he has a contract with the Maranello team for 2013.
Raikkonen arrived at Ferrari after failing to win the championship with McLaren. He won his very first race with the Red Brigade and overcame a 26-point deficit to steal the championship in the 2007 season finale in Brazil; thanks to civil and competitive unrest at his previous employer.
Efforts were made for his re-entry into Woking orbit but Vodafone McLaren disconnected talks due to high charges demanded by Raikkonen’s management team, led by ex-Indy Lights champion Steve Robertson.
For the past two seasons Raikkonen has been doing what is second nature to Finns – rallying. Driving a Citroen, he showed his natural pace but did not get the results he was looking for.
Then there was the much-hyped visit to Nascar Nation. Running circles in a Camping World truck series event and one Nationwide race was very alien to Ice Man, and he soon packed his bags and headed back to Europe.
“I’m delighted to be coming back to Formula 1 after a two-year break,” Raikkonen said after signing a two-year contract with Renault-Lotus, the Genii Capital-owned team will be the only Lotus team on the grid next season.
The record shows Raikkonen won his first Grand Prix in Malaysia in 2003 and recorded 17 other victories before his gardening/rallying leave. His most impressive drive came at Suzuka in the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix. He started from the back of the grid and hunted down race leader, Giancarlo Fisichella in a Renault, and passed the Roman driver on the final lap of the race.
Raikkonen’s teammate, Vitaly Petrov, comes from an area of Russia which was once part of Finlandia.
Time to celebrate the return of Kimi Raikkonen to Formula One.
— Nasir Hameed
Greetings and Finlandia regards.