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29 November 2011

Kimi RšikkŲnen back in F1 with Lotus Renault GP in 2012!

Press release by LRGP

Lotus Renault GP is pleased to announce that Kimi RšikkŲnen will race for the team next season. The 2007 World Champion, who left Formula 1 at the end of 2009 to pursue a career in rallying, has decided to make a comeback at the pinnacle of single-seater racing. He has now signed a two-year agreement with Lotus Renault GP.

Kimiís F1 roll of honour includes 18 wins, 62 podiums and 16 pole positions. This experience and success is sure to help the team make a step forward next year. The 32-year-old Finnís commitment indeed makes for a vote of confidence in Lotus Renault GP, demonstrating the teamís determination and new philosophy for the seasons ahead.

Kimi RšikkŲnen: ďIím delighted to be coming back to Formula 1 after a two-year break, and Iím 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 canít 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 teamís ambition. Now Iím looking forward to playing an important role in pushing the team to the very front of the grid.Ē

Gťrard Lopez, Genii Capital, Chairman: ďAll year long, we kept saying that our team was at the start of a brand new cycle. Backstage weíve 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. Kimiís 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, Iíd like to welcome Kimi to Enstone, a setting that has always been known for its human approach to Formula 1.Ē

Interview with Kimi:

Kimi, good news today, you have decided to come back to Formula 1. Why are you coming back?
The main reason was that I never really lost the passion for racing in Formula 1, just maybe for all the other things around it. But when I did some NASCAR races this year I noticed that I was increasingly missing the racing side Ė to race against each other Ė because in rallying you really race against the clock. And then I got the call from certain people in Formula 1. All sorts of things happened and we managed to have a nice conversation with Lotus Renault GP and make a deal Ė Iím really very happy with that!

Why did you choose Lotus Renault GP?
Really there were two options Ė it was this team or Williams. And everything worked out with Lotus Renault GP as we wanted, so thatís really the reason. Have you been following the team and the performance this year? I didnít follow Formula 1 much at all last year. This year I followed it a bit more but not really any specific team. I watched the last 20 laps of the last race, the Brazilian Grand Prix, and because I knew this was going to happen I also watched how the Lotus Renault GP team did. But before that I didnít know anything about what was going to happen or that there would be a deal in Formula 1 for next year, so I just watched Formula 1 as a whole. I saw a few races but nothing special.

Do you think Formula 1 will be very different for you from what you know from 2009, with the DRS, Pirelli tyres, etc?
Comparing 2009 to next year the biggest difference will probably be the tyres. I donít think there is a lot of difference with the cars. DRS is a new thing but this is basically similar to before. The button that used to be for the front wing has disappeared, so now itís for the rear wing. I would guess the main difference is really the tyres.

Personally, whatís the main difference from the Kimi RšikkŲnen we saw in 2009 Ė in which way are you a better driver?
I donít know Ė Iíve been away for two years. I havenít driven and I havenít even sat in a Formula 1 car since the last race in 2009. Iím interested to get back into the car, Iím two years older now and I donít think anything else has really changed. It has been really nice to try to learn rallying in the last few years. On some days it was hard. Itís been easier this year than last year but still itís a very difficult sport. Iím really looking forward to coming back. At least Formula 1 is something where I know how everything works as Iíve been there for many years Ė compared to rallying when I didnít know what would really happen. Then I went to NASCAR and I had no clue how it would be. So in that way it should be much, much easier to come back and it should be pretty normal.

Have you already changed your training routine?
I kept training the whole time for the rallying but of course itís not so physical Ė in the rallies itís more that you have to sit in the car for the whole week. In Formula 1, it is more physical but over a shorter time. A month ago I started to get back into proper training for Formula 1. The neck is the most difficult thing to get ready but we still have plenty of time.

When you think about your last race in 2009, what is the feeling you have of driving in Formula 1?
I certainly remember all the braking and how quickly everything happens. But compared to rallying, say, you have slightly more time. In rallying, it doesnít give you a second chance. When you make a mistake you go off. There are no run-off areas. In Formula 1 you have a lot of run-off areas, you can run a bit wide and it is not such a big deal. You lose a lap in the practice or in qualifying but in the race you maybe donít even lose a place. So this time, the braking and the G-forces will certainly come back very quickly. The biggest thing will definitely be to get the neck used to it again. All the rest will take a while but itís not really a big thing.

Six world champions on the grid next year, you are coming back to Formula 1 Ė how big of a boost is it for your motivation?
I would not have come back if I wasnít motivated. There is always a lot of talk about motivation but nobody really knows what I do or what I think apart from myself so I donít really care about what people say. But Iím happy to be coming back. I wouldnít put my name onto a contract if  I didnít think Iíd really enjoy it Ė so it will be interesting and exciting to get back!

See the video here!