Kimi Raikkonen's first visit to his new 'home' at Enstone prompted Lotus Renault team owner Gerard Lopez to reveal that he expects the Finn to play a key role in reviving the squad's fortunes.

Not a threat since its championship successes with Fernando Alonso in 2005 and 2006, the team enjoyed a brief glimpse of what might be when it topped the timesheets in pre-season testing and then claimed a brace of podium finishes in the opening two races of 2011, but faded badly enough since then to make simply scoring points a struggle.

Confirming Raikkonen as one of its drivers for 2012 on Tuesday, Lotus Renault naturally created expectations for next season, but Lopez sees the finn's arrival as the fiurst step towards reclaiming past glories.

"I think we decided that we had to look forward in terms of performance and the key way to see how good a car is, is to have a good driver," he was quoted by the team's official website, "Kimi has proven in the past that he is among the fastest and, in terms of age, he's still in his prime.

"In terms of motivation from what I have seen and spoken to him, he is probably as motivated as ever. And the more people question the better it is, because it is going to increase his motivation even more to prove that they are wrong.

"I'm excited that he is here because I think it's one of the very important steps in getting the team to where we want it to be - which is one of the top teams in F1."

Perhaps fittingly, given his previous reputation, Raikkonen first visit to Enstone coincided with the team's Christmas party, but that did not prevent the 2007 world champion from getting a good flavour of what Lotus Renault had to offer during a brief factory tour.

"It is very nice to see the factory - and it feels good," Raikkonen commented, "It is a very warm feeling and I'm very relaxed."

That feeling extended to the Finn's view of the task ahead, Raikkonen admitting that he was not going to worry about what was expected of him.

"I haven't really read the newspapers about all the excitement, but it is quite normal, isn't it?" he noted, "It doesn't put any more pressure on me. I always try to do my best, so I don't put myself under pressure. It will be exciting, yes, but no pressure really and we will see how it goes."



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