Sir Jackie Stewart has praised Kimi Raikkonen for an 'amazing' performance in the Bahrain Grand Prix, arguing that second place for the Lotus driver at the Sakhir circuit showed he can still do a job in F1.
Raikkonen's decision to return to the sport after two years away led some to question whether he still had what it takes to challenge at the front of the F1 field.
However, a stunning performance in Bahrain saw Raikkonen storm through the field from eleventh on the grid to finish second, as Lotus finally lived up to the potential shown during pre-season testing.
With team-mate Romain Grosjean in third, Lotus had double reason to cheer and while Stewart was quick to praise both drivers, he said Raikkonen's display was one that would defy the critics who claimed he wasn't capable of a return.
“It's a genuinely great performance by a very good team of people who have come together so well,” he told the Scotsman
. “It's not been easy to take over a team, to get them to gel and get them all to come together. But it was a great performance, and I'm sure everybody back at Enstone must be out of their mind with joy.
“Kimi's performance, in particular, after so many people had doubted whether he could come back and be successful, was amazing. Most people thought he wouldn't have the fitness to do a whole race. A lot of people were making those kind of comments. So to come back and answer them like he did, and in only his fourth race... and he could have won it, it was that close at one point.
“As for Grosjean, in his first full proper season, it was a very mature drive. He didn't make any mistakes, stayed out of trouble. So I'm thrilled for the whole team, and the other side is that Colin Chapman must be pretty pleased up there looking down.
“They've hardly had any success since the team broke up, so it's great, fantastic.”