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Kimi Räikkönen ‘relaxed’ over return to Formula 1

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kimi raikkonen
Raikkonen won the drivers' championship in 2007 with FerrariJef Briguet, courtesy of Lotus Renault GP

kimi raikkonen

New Lotus Renault GP driver Kimi Räikkönen is excited about his return to F1 – but insists he is not under pressure to produce results.

The 2007 world champion visited the team’s headquarters in Enstone on Friday to meet colleagues at the factory, before staying for an early Christmas party.

With two years out of F1 after a switch to the World Rally Championship, questions remain over the Finn’s ability to jump in a 2012 car and produce results, with some going as far as to point to Michael Schumacher’s inability to turn it on for Mercedes following his return to the sport after a lengthy absence.

“It is my first time in Enstone so it is very nice to see the factory–it feels good,” Räikkönen told the LRGP website. “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.”

Williams have confirmed that Pastor Maldonado will remain with the team in 2012, with Valtteri Bottas as the team’s official third driver.

Sir Frank Williams has yet to name the team’s second driver, with Force India’s Adrian Sutil among those linked with a move to the Grove-based team to replace veteran Rubens Barrichello, who is unlikely to be retained.

Sir Frank had already publicly declared that Maldonado was likely to stay, despite question marks over his sponsorship in Venezuela over his PDVSA sponsorship.

Bottas, who won the 2011 GP3 Series, will take part in 15 Friday practice sessions during the season.

Toro Rosso have boosted their technical team with the recruitment of former McLaren project leader Luca Furbatto and former Williams head of aerodynamics Jon Tomlinson.

Furbatto has joined Toro Rosso’s design team at their Italian headquarters in Faenza, after 11 years at McLaren as their head of stress analysis and materials, and assistant project leader, and will be promoted to chief designer at Toro Rosso on 1 April when Ben Butler returns to Red Bull.

Tomlinson will join Toro Rosso’s wind tunnel team in Bicester, Oxfordshire as deputy head of aerodynamics, after five years as head of aerodynamics at Williams, before he resigned after the team’s troubled start to the season.

GP2 Series champion Romain Grosjean will test for BMW’s DTM team next week, as a Formula 1 drive in 2012 now looks unlikely.

The 25-year-old had been tipped to return to the cockpit at Renault as a stand-in for the injured Robert Kubica, but former world champion Räikkönen’s was chosen ahead of Grosjean, and Bruno Senna, and with few seats available in the sport, Grosjean has no choice but to look elsewhere and bide his time.

Bernie Ecclestone has given the Circuit of the Americas an extra week to save the US Grand Prix from being removed from the 2012 calendar.

Ecclestone has lost patience with the promoters of the new race in Texas over failure to guarantee the race sanctioning fee, and insisted it was the final chance after COTA executives reportedly met the F1 supremo in London to thrash out a deal.

The extra time for COTA to find the money, gives them until the next World Motor Sport Council meeting in Delhi on 7 December, where the race will be formally removed if the conditions aren’t met.

“The deadline hasn’t been met so we are still trying to make it happen,” Ecclestone told AP. “They need to get some money and a pen. They are struggling to get the financial side sorted out.”

He added: “If it isn’t all signed before the World Motor Sport Council meeting, it can’t happen.”

Former F1 driver turned commentator Martin Brundle has revealed that he will leave BBC for Sky Sports next year.

The satellite channel won the rights to show every race live next year, with the BBC showing just 10 live, with extended highlights packages for the remaining races.

“It’s very important for me to be covering every Formula 1 weekend with the intense energy of live television,” Brundle told Sky Sports. “There will be also be plenty of time and scope at Sky to create the features I really enjoy making which highlight the skills and fascinating technology of F1.

“It’s been a privilege working with BBCF1, and now I am very motivated with new opportunities at Sky Sports F1 HD.”

Some fans were concerned about the possibility of the races being interrupted with adverts as was the case in the sport’s days on free-to-air commercial channel ITV, but Sky Sports have confirmed that their coverage will be advert-free, and available to Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 subscribers.

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