Kimi Raikkonen insists he is ready to return to racing action in F1 this season after his two seasons in the World Rally Championship.
The Finn hasn't competed in the sport since 2009 after two seasons in the WRC, but returns to the grid this year with Lotus – which has now taken the covers of the E20 that the Finn will drive during the year ahead.
Although he admits that he enjoyed his time in rallying, Raikkonen revealed that it was his outing in NASCAR last season that made him realise how much he missed racing – with Lotus giving him the opportunity to return to the sport.
“When I did the NASCAR races, I enjoyed the racing and I want to do more racing,” he said. “I still want to do rally and if I could, I'd do them both at the same time - but this isn't possible. For sure I will do rallying again in the future. I want to do racing as I had a really good time in NASCAR racing against other people and I realised that I was missing this – that's when I decided that if there was a good chance to return properly that I would do it.
“Formula 1 is something very special in my racing career, and you always want to race at the toughest level, so Formula 1 is where you want to race if you have a choice. Everything came together [with Lotus] quite quickly. We shared a common goal and everyone was happy. This was the only way to do it and everything went pretty well from there.”
Raikkonen insisted that he would give his all when he returns to competitive action for the first time since the 2009 season finale in Abu Dhabi and again hit out at those who have questioned his motivation.
“I think people expect things from me, but as long as I know that I'm giving 100 per cent and I'm happy with my driving then I'm happy,” he said. “If those aspects are true and it's not enough, then it's not enough.
There's always talk about my motivation, written by people who don't know me and couldn't have an idea on how strong my motivation is. If I didn't feel I had the motivation, I would stop. My feeling is that I probably drove some of my best races in my last season in Formula 1 and I was very happy with my performance. I've never had any issues with motivation.
“In my last year at Ferrari we weren't always at the front but I'm a good racer and I want to get to the front. Lotus started well last year and we hope that the new car will be strong.”