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.