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Lopez praises Raikkonen's 'desire'

ESPN Staff
January 8, 2013 « No guarantee of podiums in 2013 - Hulkenberg | Maldonado to continue 'aggressive' style »
Kimi Raikkonen finished third in the drivers' championship in 2012 © FIA
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Lotus owner Gerard Lopez says Kimi Raikkonen "has enthusiasm and desire" which allowed him to be immediately competitive again in Formula One.

Raikkonen's laid back approach to the sport and dislike of sponsorship and media commitments raised questions over whether he would remain motivated when returning to Formula One at the start of 2012. However, an outstanding season last year saw him finish third in the drivers' championship and win in Abu Dhabi, leading Lopez to admit his pleasure at silencing the doubters.

"That makes me smile," Lopez told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I was sure it would be like this, Raikkonen put in a great work load to compliment his talent and the results are the fruit of that. Here he feels like he is being used for what's most important and for the rest of the time he is free. He's found a balance. I speak to him every week and he feels good. He has enthusiasm and desire. I want drivers, not robots."

Raikkonen's team-mate Romain Grosjean had a difficult first full season as he was banned for one race for causing a first-corner accident in Belgium, but Lopez said his raw pace encourages him for the new season.

"There were four drivers who had more reprimands than him, but they took part in every race and Grosjean was instead banned for the Italian Grand Prix. However, he has shown that he is quick - I'm expecting a lot from him this year."