Kimi Raikkonen’s manager insists he is delighted the 2007 world champion has decided to return to the world of F1.
“He is back where he should be,” said Steve Robertson, referring to the 32-year-old Finn’s decision to leave world rallying and NASCAR and sign for two-years with Renault/Lotus. “My personal opinion is that when he left F1 after 2009 he was too young and too good to be doing so.
“He still has a lot to give to the sport, and when he asked us to explore the possibilities, he was constantly pushing us forward.”
The bulk of Robertson’s negotiations were with Williams, he revealed.
“Everyone seems to know about our discussions with Williams,” he told the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat. “They continued for many weeks but on some of the things we could not agree. Then shortly before the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix we started talking with Eric Boullier. Both sides wanted to come to an agreement quickly.”
Indeed, Raikkonen told the same newspaper that his first ever phone conversation with Boullier was last Monday.
“Kimi wanted to come back and so he had to act quickly, because there are few places and a lot of drivers on the market,” Robertson explained.
He said the rear wing innovation ‘DRS’, introduced this year, will not be a problem for Raikkonen to adjust to.
“The (Pirelli) tyres are a question mark, but normally Kimi needs no more than a few laps to adjust to something very quickly.”
The next step for the former Ferrari and McLaren winner is a visit this week to Enstone, and then some testing.
“I can drive this year’s car as long as it is on GP2 tyres,” said Raikkonen. “Just a familiarisation. I don’t know the schedule yet but when the new car comes I will test it.”
Some predict that Raikkonen will struggle to re-adapt to F1 after two years away, but the Finn insisted: “It probably will not be so difficult. I drove F1 cars for a long time, and the last time was with the KERS and with a lot of buttons on the steering wheel.
“The biggest difference is the tyres as it takes some time to learn how to use them the best way. But it was more difficult when I changed from the Michelin to the Bridgestone tyres. Now, I haven’t driven on F1 tyres for two years so I did not get used to something else. In this way it will certainly be easier.
“I have talked to my friend Pedro de la Rosa and from what he told me, they (the tyres) feel pretty good, with good grip from the outset, which for me is important.”