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Boullier: Lotus-Raikkonen a 'perfect match'

Lotus F1 team boss Eric Boullier has high hopes for the partnership with Kimi Raikkonen as he attempts to erase memories of 2011.
If he didn't already understand the implications of returning to F1 with the Lotus F1 team, Kimi Raikkonen will have been left in no doubt by team boss Eric Boullier's comments during the opening group test at Jerez.

Even as Raikkonen was pounding around the southern Spanish circuit en route to setting the fastest time of the day, Boullier was explaining that he expected the Finn to do what none of the three drivers employed in 2011 managed, and fill the role left vacant by Robert Kubica's rallying accident almost twelve months ago. Nick Heidfeld, Vitaly Petrov and Bruno Senna all occupied the cockpit of the black-and-gold Lotus Renault entries in 2011 but, apart from a few promising testing performances and a brace of podium finishes in rounds one and two, the year tailed off badly for the Enstone equipe.

Admitting that Kubica's absence had left a void at the heart of the team, Boullier confirmed that he saw Raikkonen as the ideal driver to pick up the baton dropped by his Polish counterpart.

"Right away - yes!" Boullier told the official F1 website, "Because, in terms of team morale and motivation - and even team guidance - he is there, because he is a guy that knows what he wants. I promise you he is committed and, as I just said, he knows what he wants."

Raikkonen, ironically, was among the first batch of names mentioned as a possible replacement for the injured Kubica - who remains far from able to pilot an F1 car and has been dropped by the Lotus operation ahead of 2012 - but, despite rumours of talks between himself and Boullier, the marriage never happened. Indeed, there were reports of cross words flying back and forth between the pair via the media, making any future alliance an unlikely one.

Determined to return to F1 for 2012, Raikkonen was reportedly close to landing a Williams seat but, just days after those talks broke down, he was unveiled as Boullier's first signing for the new season.

"The first talks started just after Abu Dhabi and we closed the deal in less than ten days - it all went very quickly!" the Frenchman revealed, "Just before that, we were evaluating internally which driver we wanted to recruit and we only wanted to share those discussions within the team. Then we contacted Kimi - and it was done! Obviously, his negotiations with Williams were going nowhere, but he wanted to be back in F1, so it was the right time and the right situation. Clearly, money was not the point. He liked the package that we offered and that was it."

Despite the apparently happy camp, there is pressure on both sides to perform, Raikkonen to show that he is still worthy of consideration as a potential champion, and Boullier to ensure that the Lotus name does not suffer on its return to the top flight. Despite that, the Frenchman continues to describe the pair as a 'perfect match'.

"Do you know any world championship contender - either team or driver - that was not explosive?" he asked, "Sure, for a team named Lotus, it is a benefit having a big name. It's a perfect match because we were looking for somebody with his background, experience, charisma and speed, but he also was looking for a team to join to make a good return into F1.




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
07.02.2012 Jerez, Spain, Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus Renault F1 Team   - Formula 1 Testing, day 1 - Formula 1 World Championship
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN), Team Lotus Renault GP  - Lotus F1 Team E20 Launch
Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus Renault F1 Team  - Lotus F1 Team E20 Launch
Eric Boullier (FRA), Team Principal, Lotus Renault GP with Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus Renault F1 Team  - Lotus F1 Team E20 Launch
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN), Team Lotus Renault GP  - Lotus F1 Team E20 Launch
Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus Renault F1 Team  - Lotus F1 Team E20 Launch
Kimi Raikkonen tests the 2017 F1 tyres in Abu Dhabi [credit: Pirelli]
Lewis Hamilton tests the 2017 F1 tyres in Abu Dhabi [credit: Pirelli]
Daniel Ricciardo tests the 2017 F1 tyres in Abu Dhabi [credit: Pirelli]
Kimi Raikkonen tests the 2017 F1 tyres in Abu Dhabi [credit: Pirelli]
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Pirelli 2017 tyre test [Credit: Pirelli]
27.11.2016 - Race, Start of the race, Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB12 and Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H and Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
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27.11.2016 - Race, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
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phastur - Unregistered

February 08, 2012 4:27 PM

holy smoke take it easy Msan. did somebody piss in your corn flakes this morning....Droog said it right....4 WDC since 1994. that's more than the mighty McLaren can say....i believe Kimi is determined this season..he will push this team to it's limits...and finally he is at a team that stands behind him....Ferrari was clearly behind cry baby massa and deflated Kimi. But look where they are now, eh?

Droog

February 08, 2012 3:56 PM
Last Edited 1763 days ago

@Msan Just a quick response, for a "Marketing Team" as you imply that they are, they weren't very good at it last year. Their Teamwear wasn't even available until mid-season. And oh yeah, as Benneton they had 2 WDC's with Schumi, and as Renault F1, they had 2 WDC's for Alonso in there as well. Not too shabby. Let hope that they can return to form with Kimi And you imply that because they are owned by Genii, they can't be "real", does that imply by extension that ANY sports team that is owned by ANY non-sports oriented Corporation is somehow fake or posing? Almost every major Sports franchise in the world is either Corporate owned or has major Corporate sponsorship. You must be an Olympics Fanatic.



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