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Raikkonen to return with Renault in 2012


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After weeks of speculation Renault confirmed on Tuesday that Kimi Raikkonen will make a comeback to race for the team in 2012. Raikkonen, who left the sport at the end of 2009 to pursue a rallying career, has signed a two-year agreement with the team.

“I’m delighted to be coming back to Formula One after a two-year break, and I’m grateful to Lotus Renault GP for offering me this opportunity,” said the 32 year-old. “My time in the World Rally Championship has been a useful stage in my career as a driver, but I can’t deny the fact that my hunger for F1 has recently become overwhelming.

“It was an easy choice to return with Lotus Renault GP as I have been impressed by the scope of the team’s ambition. Now I’m looking forward to playing an important role in pushing the team to the very front of the grid.”

The Finn made his Formula One debut back in 2001 with Sauber. He then spent five seasons with McLaren, from 2002 to 2006, winning nine Grands Prix and twice finishing runner-up in the drivers’ championship. He moved to Ferrari for 2007, taking the title that year, but was overshadowed by team mate Felipe Massa the following season.

He agreed to leave Ferrari at the end of the 2009 season despite having a year of his contract still to run, in order to make way for Fernando Alonso. Over the last two seasons he has competed in the World Rally Championship.

Gerard Lopez, chairman of Genii Capital, commented: “All year long, we kept saying that our team was at the start of a brand new cycle. Backstage we’ve been working hard to build the foundations of a successful structure and to ensure that we would soon be able to fight at the highest level.

“Kimi’s decision to come back to Formula One with us is the first step of several announcements which should turn us into an even more serious contender in the future. Of course, we are all looking forward to working with a world champion. On behalf of our staff, I’d like to welcome Kimi to Enstone, a setting that has always been known for its human approach to Formula One.”

Renault ended the 2011 season fifth in the constructors' standings, four points ahead of sixth-placed squad Force India. The team will be renamed Lotus from next season.


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Robert Kubica has given up on his goal of returning to Formula One for the start of the 2012 season, conceding that while his recovery from a life-threatening rally accident is "very encouraging", he is not yet ready to return to the cockpit.


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No, he turned City down in the end 'http://www.dcfcfans.co.uk/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/cool' class='bbc_emoticon' alt='B)' />

Very clever 'http://www.dcfcfans.co.uk/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/wink' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=';)' />

A formula one driver's success is indeed down to his car, but an individual footballer's success lies far more within the hands of his team.

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Romain Grosjean will join returning ex-world champion Kimi Raikkonen next year at Renault, who will be renamed Lotus.

Grosjean was dropped by Renault after failing to impress alongside Fernando Alonso in 2009 and returned to the GP2 feeder series, which he won in 2011.

"There's a big grin on my face at the prospect of getting behind the wheel of next year's car," the Swiss, 25, said.

Team owner Gerard Lopez said Grosjean's appointment would "help us achieve our aims of getting back to the very top".

Grosjean was born in Geneva but holds dual Swiss and French nationality and his role is linked to a renewal of the team's sponsorship deal with French oil giant Total, which was announced in the same media release.

The move leaves Russian Vitaly Petrov and Brazilian Bruno Senna, Renault's two race drivers at the end of 2011, looking for a place in F1 next year.

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Romain has shown a lot of maturity in the past 12 months both through his GP2 Series victory and his development as third driver with us

Eric Boullier Renault team principal

Grosjean said he was excited about returning to F1 alongside former McLaren and Ferrari driver Raikkonen.

"To be racing alongside a former world champion - and someone who is hungry and returning to Formula 1 - will be a great experience. I'm sure it will help raise my level of performance too.

"I feel that my successful season in GP2 Series has helped me mature a lot. I am a much more complete driver than I was last time I was competing in this sport.

"Returning to Enstone [Renault's base] as a race driver feels like coming home. I will not disappoint."

Raikkonen, who had talks with Williams about a return to F1 next season before signing for Renault last month, was drafted in to replace the team's number one driver Robert Kubica after the Pole failed to recover in time from serious injuries sustained in a rally accident in February.

Renault have talked about trying to help Kubica on the road to recovery, but it remains unclear whether any return to F1 by the 27-year-old would be with Renault, or which of their two race drivers would step down if it was.

Petrov, Senna and the team's reserve driver Grosjean were all in the frame to take the second seat.


Born: 17 April 1986

Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland

F1 races: 7

Former teams: Renault

Best F1 race finish: 13th

Career highlights

2005: French Formula Renault champion

2007: Formula Three Euroseries champion

2008: GP2 Asia Series champion

2010: Auto GP champion

2011: GP2 Asia Series champion

2011: GP2 Series champion

Grosjean impressed in this season's GP2 Series, the feeder championship to F1, taking five wins and 10 podiums on his way to a maiden title.

The 25-year-old then got behind the wheel of a Renault in the first practice sessions at the final two races of the season in Abu Dhabi and Brazil, where he impressed team principal Eric Boullier.

"Romain has shown a lot of maturity in the past 12 months both through his GP2 Series victory and his development as third driver with us," said Boullier, who has pushed for Grosjean to be given a second chance following his low-key F1 debut.

"We were impressed when he drove for us in the first practice sessions in Abu Dhabi and Brazil.

"We are confident that drafting him into one of our driver's seats will help us in our rebuilding process.

"I would like to thank Vitaly Petrov and Bruno Senna for their contribution to the team's performance this year and I wish them all the best for the future."

That leaves them in competition with Brazilian veteran Rubens Barrichello and German Adrian Sutil for one seat at Williams, with Sutil the favourite.

Neither Force India, for whom Sutil drove in 2011, nor Toro Rosso have named their drivers for 2012 yet.

But Force India are expected to confirm within the next week or so that Scot Paul di Resta, who impressed in his debut season this year, will be joined by German Nico Hulkenberg, who was their reserve driver in 2011.

Toro Rosso will pick their two race drivers from four Red Bull proteges - their 2011 race drivers Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastian Buemi, Australian Daniel Ricciardo and Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne.

Ricciardo, who raced for HRT in the second half of 2011, could also be drafted in at Lotus, who will be renamed Caterham for 2012, in place of veteran Italian Jarno Trulli.

HRT also have one seat available alongside veteran Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa.


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