Kimi Raikkonen will prove his critics wrong, insists Lotus Renault team owner Gerard Lopez
|By Matt Beer||Saturday, December 3rd 2011, 10:22 GMT|
Renault team owner Gerard Lopez says questions about Kimi Raikkonen's motivation in returning to Formula 1 will only make the 2007 world champion more determined to succeed.
After two years in the World Rally Championship, Raikkonen is rejoining grand prix racing in 2012 with what will then be called the Lotus team.
The Finn's motivation level was often called into question during the latter stages of his original F1 career and in his WRC stint, but speaking during Raikkonen's first visit to the team's Enstone factory on Friday, Lopez said he was confident this was not an issue anymore.
"Kimi has proven in the past that he is among the fastest and in terms of age he's still in his prime," said Lopez.
"In terms of motivation from what I have seen and spoken to him, he is probably as motivated as ever. And the more people question the better it is because it is going to increase his motivation even more to prove that they are wrong.
"I'm excited that he is here because I think it's one of the very important steps in getting the team to where we want it to be - which is one of the top teams in Formula 1."
Lopez feels that as a proven world champion, Raikkonen will be the benchmark Renault needs to judge its competitiveness as it tries to get back to the top.
"I think we decided that we had to look forward in terms of performance and the key way to see how good a car is, is to have a good driver," he said.
Raikkonen said he was pleased with the welcome he received at the team's base yesterday, and that he was feeling relaxed about the task ahead.
"It is my first time in Enstone," he said, "so it is very nice to see the factory - it feels good. It is a very warm feeling and I'm very relaxed.
"I haven't really read the newspapers about all the excitement but it is quite normal, isn't it? It doesn't put any more pressure on me. I always try to do my best, so I don't put myself under pressure. It will be exciting, yes, but no pressure really and we will see how it goes."