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Former grand prix driver Jean Alesi says Kimi Raikkonen will be a boost for Lotus

Kimi RaikkonenFormer grand prix driver Jean Alesi believes the Lotus Renault team will get a boost from the arrival of Kimi Raikkonen.

The 2007 world champion has signed a two-year deal with the team and will return to grand prix action in 2012 after leaving the sport at the end of the 2009 season.

Alesi believes the arrival of Raikkonen is great news for Renault, which will race under the Lotus name next year.

"It's fantastic news," said Alesi, now working as an ambassador for Group Lotus. "Kimi has more natural speed than just about anyone who has ever raced a Grand Prix car, and if he's coming back it's because he wants to do it, he misses F1, and he believes he can do well.

"He has had a short break, which was a little bit forced by Ferrari. I think he was fed up with the system and wanted to take time out, which I can totally understand. But now he's coming back, with Lotus, so it's really exciting.

Alesi expects Raikkonen to be able to get the maximum out of next year's car despite his absence from Formula 1.

He added: "The great thing with Kimi is he extracts the maximum from a quick car. When the car was good at McLaren and Ferrari he was always winning. LRGP will expect him to extract the maximum from the Lotus as well."

The Frenchman reckons that Raikkonen's natural speed will be a "very valuable" to help the team move forward.

"F1 teams need a driver who will consistently set laptimes that are 100 per cent on the edge," he said. "That is what a driver of Kimi's caliber can do, to dance on the edge and never fall off. From that, the engineers get a baseline.

"They understand the true speed of their car and can make changes accordingly. It eradicates any doubt. I expect Kimi will be a very valuable tool indeed. But I don't expect a lot of talking outside the car! I'm sure he hasn't changed a bit."

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