London. Kimi Raikkonen has said he will return to Formula One next season, fully motivated and with his enthusiasm for the sport undimmed after the past two years away.
After the announcement of his comeback on Tuesday by the Renault team, which next year will become Lotus, the 2007 champion said he foresaw few problems in readjusting.
“I would not have come back if I wasn’t motivated,” said the 32-year-old Finn, whose motivation was increasingly questioned during his time at Ferrari after he had won the championship.
“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 don’t really care about what people say,” Raikkonen said.
“But I’m happy to be coming back,” he added. “I wouldn’t put my name onto a contract if I didn’t think I’d really enjoy it, so it will be interesting and exciting to get back.”
Raikkonen has spent the past two years competing in the world rally championship with Citroen and also trying his hand at Nascar in the United States.
The former Sauber, McLaren and Ferrari driver said he had “never really lost the passion for racing in Formula One, just maybe for all the other things around it.”
“When I did some Nascar races this year I noticed that I was increasingly missing the racing side, to race against each other, because in rallying you really race against the clock,” he added.
“And then I got the call from certain people in Formula One,” he said. “All sorts of things happened and we managed to have a nice conversation with Lotus Renault GP and make a deal.”
Raikkonen said he had two options, Lotus or Williams, and he had started training a month ago to raise his fitness for Formula One and increase his neck muscle strength.
The sport has changed since the “Iceman” was last racing in grands prix, with Pirelli replacing Bridgestone as tire supplier and the introduction of the moveable rear wing.
“I haven’t driven and I haven’t even sat in a Formula One car since the last race in 2009,” said the winner of 18 grands prix.
“I’m interested to get back into the car, I’m two years older now and I don’t think anything else has really changed.”