Kimi Raikkonen on Tuesday insisted he “never lost passion” for racing in motorsport’s top flight, F1. The 2007 world champion, who left Formula One two years ago for world rallying and NASCAR, also denied he might not be sufficiently motivated ahead of his return to the sport with Lotus Renault in 2012.
“The main reason for coming back to F1 is I never lost the passion for racing except for maybe all the things around it,” the 32-year-old said.
The former McLaren and Ferrari driver explained that he began to think about a comeback whilst competing recently in NASCAR, when he got a feel for wheel-to-wheel combat after many contests merely “against the clock” in rally.
“I got a call from certain people in F1 and all sorts of things happened. In the end we managed to have a nice conversation with the people at Lotus Renault and made a deal.”
Mere days ago, Williams was the front-runner to secure the services of the 18-time grand prix winner.
“There was two options; this team and Williams and in the end everything worked out as we wanted with Lotus Renault GP,” said Raikkonen.
After leaving F1 at the end of 2009, the Finn – nicknamed ‘the Iceman’ – insisted he didn’t miss or follow the sport at all in 2010. He said on Tuesday he watched F1 a “bit more” this season, including the last 20 laps of Sunday’s season finale at Interlagos.
“Because I knew that it (the deal) was going to happen so I watched how the team did but before I didn’t know that the deal would happen.”
Raikkonen revealed that he has been in specific training for his return for about a month, but thinks Pirelli’s tyres will be the main difference compared to the F1 he left in 2009.
“I don’t know if I’m different or not, it will be interesting to get back in the F1 (car) but I’m a few years older and nothing else has changed really.”
What about his motivation, which two years ago had seemed at a low?
“I wouldn’t come back if I wasn’t motivated,” insisted Raikkonen. “There’s always a lot of talk about it but nobody really knows what I do or what I think so I don’t really care what people say. I enjoy to come back, I wouldn’t put my name in a contract if I wouldn’t think that I’d really enjoy it.”