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Raikkonen 'very important' for Renault

ESPNF1 Staff
December 3, 2011 « Sutil has 'more than one option' for 2012 | Mexican GP would be a 'no-brainer' »
Gerard Lopez believes that Kimi Raikkonen will help show the full potential of the 2012 car © Getty Images

Renault owner Gerard Lopez says that Kimi Raikkonen's acquisition is "one of the very important steps" to make the team more competitive.

After it was announced earlier this week that Raikkonen would be returning to Formula One to join the team on a two year deal, the lack of a second driver on the FIA entry list confirmed that Vitaly Petrov's future was uncertain. With Nick Heidfeld and Bruno Senna also having driven for the team this year, Lopez said that Raikkonen's ability would help improve the performance of the 2012 car.

"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," Lopez said. "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 Formula 1…"

Despite a lot of interest surrounding his return, Raikkonen said that he hadn't been paying attention to the coverage and that it would not add any extra pressure.

"It is my first time in Enstone so it is very nice to see the factory - it feels good," Raikkonen said. "It is a very warm feeling and I'm very relaxed. I haven't really read the newspapers about all the excitement but it is quite normal, isn't it? 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."