Few drivers have caused the kind of speculation that Kimi Raikkonen has in the past few years alone. Will he take a Ferrari payoff and make way for Fernando Alonso? Will he find another ride in Formula One? Will he make it in the World Rally Championship? Will he make a real go of it in NASCAR? Will he ever come back to F1? And if so, with which team? Well, the speculation can now stop – or at least change focus – because the 2007 World Champion has officially returned to Formula One.
After signing on with the Lotus team (previously known as Renault, and before that as Benneton and Toleman), Raikkonen has had his first chance to get behind the wheel of a modern F1 car since leaving the Scuderia at the end of 2009. The test took place over the course of two days at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia, Spain. But since driving the current car with current tires would constitute an unfair advantage under the present regulations, Kimi was stuck driving the 2010 Renault R30 on demonstration tires (probably from the GP2 series) with a fresh coat of paint (and a new helmet design).
The acclimation run appears to have gone smoothly enough, but we'll have to wait until the start of the season in March to see if Raikkonen's still got what it takes. Then Raikkonen will be squaring off against a huge field of fellow former World Champions, including Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. Follow the jump to watch the video clip.