Lotus delighted with Raikkonen

Gerard Lopez insists Kimi actually 'smiles a lot'

Last Updated: 14/02/12 12:43pm

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Lotus F1 owner Gerard Lopez says the squad have been delighted with star signing Kimi Raikkonen's attitude and work ethic since the Finn joined the team, and reckons he is already feeling at home.

Raikkonen, who drove for both McLaren and Ferrari during his first spell in the sport, was renowned for his natural speed behind the wheel of Formula 1 car but picked up a less than flattering reputation for his perceived commitment outside of the cockpit compared to other front-running rivals.

Lopez, however, says he has seen no evidence of anything but complete commitment from the 2007 World Champion since the Finn arrived at the team late last year, reckoning that Raikkonen's positive attutude shows he is enjoying his new environment.

"For most people it's probably one of the big mysteries, because you hear the hearsay and so forth, but we feel very good with him and he clearly feels at home," Lopez told Autosport.

"He smiles a lot when he's with us! But most importantly that says he feels more like part of the family.

"I think Kimi has a public image that honestly from what we've seen does not translate into how he really is. He's a very hard worker, very good at providing feedback, and has a good team spirit."

After two seasons spent in the World Rally Championship, Raikkonen's motivation levels for a return to F1 were called into question when Lotus announced they had signed him to a two-year contract from 2012 - suggestions that the driver himself quickly moved to quash.

Lopez says the team's management were quickly reassured over the Finn's desire to return to F1 when they spoke to him for the first time and that Raikkonen's performance at last week's Jerez test - when he set the overall pace on his first full day in new Lotus E20 - proved he has lost none of his prodigious speed.

"Once we talked to him, once we understood why he was coming back, we really felt comfortable," Lopez added.

"If you look at what happened [at the test], nobody can say that he's not on the pace."

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