Lotus confirm Raikkonen for 2013
Former World Champion's contract renewal confirmed via video clip
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 29/10/12 4:36pm
Kimi Raikkonen will continue racing for Lotus into next season after a contract renewal for the Finn was finally confirmed.
The former World Champion has enjoyed a successful comeback to Formula 1 this season after a two-year absence and remains in mathematical, if not realistic, contention for the world title heading into the final three races.
Although Lotus announced a two-year deal with him when they confirmed his F1 return last winter, Raikkonen had remained coy over his future despite most expecting him to stay on at Enstone for 2013.
Confirmation of a renewal initially appeared in somewhat unusual fashion on Monday morning via a video clip on the team's website entitled 'One team, one commitment; Lotus F1 Team and Kimi Raikkonen' which, after footage of the Finn in the car, ended with the caption "Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus F1 Team in 2013. The story continues."
More conventional confirmation of the Raikkonen's 2013 stay came later on Monday with a press release containing comments from both Raikkonen and Lotus Team Principal Eric Boullier.
Raikkonen, who has claimed six podiums and 16 points finishes out of 17 so far this season, admitted he hadn't expected his season to be quite this strong and is hopeful of achieving even more with the team in 2013.
"I think my return to Formula 1 has gone pretty well and the team has done a very good job all year so far," the 33-year-old said.
"To be honest, I didn't expect to be fighting for the Drivers' Championship this season when you look at where the team was in 2011, so it has been great to be on the podium so many times and to score points on a regular basis. I feel very comfortable with Lotus F1 Team and we share the same philosophy of racing.
"Continuing with the team was an obvious choice for me and I'm looking forward to making another step forward together next year."
Indeed, the 33-year-old is already targeting a step forward in his qualifying results next season having only started within the front two rows on three occasions this year.
"I think to be able to perform better in the races I have to find more from myself and from the car in qualifying," Raikkonen admitted.
"This season has shown that you have to be on first two rows to be able to win every time. It's important to improve our grid positions for 2013. That's one of main targets for me."
He added: "My hunger for winning is exactly the same as always and I think I've shown that I'm capable of fighting for victories. Obviously there have been none so far this year, but we have come close a few times and for sure we'll keep on trying for as long as it takes to start winning again."
Lotus confirmed that Raikkonen would play an "active role" in the development of next year's car with Boullier adding that the Finn had already been a central figure in the team's rise back up the grid this season.
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"Kimi has made an exceptional comeback to Formula 1. From the first time he sat in the car this year it was clear he had lost none of his pace or technical feedback and we have been rewarded by a focused and motivated driver all season," he said.
"For Lotus F1 Team to be fighting for such strong championship positions this year is in no small part attributed to Kimi's talent and experience of racing. It was a natural conclusion for us to confirm that we will be harnessing his abilities for next season."
There was no mention in the announcement of Romain Grosjean's future although Boullier has repeated on several occasions that the team are likely to retain the same line up for 2013, although recently did cast some doubt on Grosjean's position in wake of a string of first-lap accidents.
Should Lotus retain the same line-up then only two seats will change hands across the top five teams in the Constructors' Championship for next year, with Lewis Hamilton joining Mercedes and Sergio Perez taking his place at McLaren.