Kimi Raikkonen insists that there will be no problem returning to Ferrari next season, despite having claimed that his exit from Maranello in 2009 was 'liberating'.
Well known for his unconventional approach to life as an F1 driver, with a renowned antipathy towards debriefs and a love of extreme pastimes with which to fill the time between races, the Finn was seen as a good fit at Lotus but, with the Enstone team having failed to keep up with his salary [ see separate story
], Raikkonen has confirmed a return to the supposedly tighter restrictions of Ferrari for 2014.
The two parties went their separate ways at the end of the 2009 campaign, when a lacklustre Raikkonen was supplanted by Fernando Alonso and a bag of Santander dollars, but the Finn insists that there was never the level of acrimony that was claimed in the media.
“Things change in F1 a lot,” he claimed, “I never had a bad feeling with them really. I still have a lot friends and good memories from there.
“I always had freedom there also. There are a lot of stories from my past, from different teams, but it's all from you guys and I don't think that you guys work in the team, so you don't really know what's happening. You write a lot of stuff which can sometimes be true and sometimes not. I had a good time, like I said, and I'm sure we will have a good time together again.”
The Finn's alleged antagonist, Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo, has already said that he expects Raikkonen - who claimed Ferrari's last world title in 2007 – to not only produce victories for the Scuderia, but also to work on the development of the 2014 car. Raikkonen shrugged off suggestions that he may have to spend more time at the factory, but insisted that he would have no problem slipping back into life at Maranello.
“It's a pretty similar answer to before,” he claimed, “There are a lot of stories, but I think we did pretty well in this team when we started and I don't see any reason why we shouldn't be able to produce a very good car for next year and keep improving it.
“Obviously, there are new rules so it will be more challenging for all the teams, but I have no worries about those things. I know the team and I know the people. Obviously, there are some new people and some more have left since I was there, but most are the same. I don't think this will be too difficult to go there and do well.
“The car's will be obviously different, so I think that will be the most difficult thing - to get the cars right and get them running reliably. Whoever makes the best car will probably make the best out of it.
“Obviously I hope [that will be Ferrari]. They built very good cars and engines in the past, they've won a lot of championships as a team, [but] then you have to look on the other side, at teams like Red Bull or Lotus with Renault, who have done very well. It's very hard to say which way it's going to go with the new rules and who's going to have the best package.
“There are a lot of stories about certain engines that will be much stronger than others, but there are so many different things that you have to look at and go through and make sure that it works that I have no idea which team will be strongest and which team will come out on top. We have to wait and see, really, for the first few tests.”