It’s hard not to feel sorry for Lotus Renault GP’s long list of talented drivers, all carefully positioning themselves for the two available race seats in 2012 – then along comes the IceMan, performs the undercut and takes the chequered flag, before any of them has time to pick up the phone to team-boss Monsieur Boullier and cry “Foul!”
The press release begins, “Lotus Renault GP is pleased to announce that Kimi Räikkönen will race for the team next season.”, but we’re pretty sure that sentiment does not extend to existing drivers Vitaly Petrov and Bruno Senna, nor test and reserve driver Romain Grosjean.
The former Ferrari driver and 2007 World Champion, left Formula 1 at the end of 2009 to pursue a career in rallying, but has decided to make a comeback by signing a two-year agreement with Lotus Renault GP.
LRGP’s number one driver, Robert Kubica missed the 2011 season after being seriously injured in a crash at the Ronde di Andora rally last February, in which his forearm was partially severed. The condition of the Polish driver has remained unclear since then, although his management recently confirmed that he was not ready to return to F1 for the start of the 2012 season.
Team boss Eric Boullier has shown increasing frustration with his former star driver, saying that “..he has no intention of giving Robert Kubica a car to prove his fitness in only to see the Pole jump ship to another team in 2013.”
With Kimi Räikkönen on board, the team gains a proven champion, capable of guiding the development of the 2012 car before the season begins next March.
Kimi Räikkönen, said of the agreement: “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. 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.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hu8Uy9PkS5g&w=634&h=391]
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.”
Gérard Lopez, Genii Capital, Chairman said: “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.
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. On behalf of our staff, I’d like to welcome Kimi to Enstone, a setting that has always been known for its human approach to Formula 1.”
Images: Lotus Renault GP