Martin Whitmarsh has applauded Kimi Raikkonen's comeback, saying that as long as Lotus give him a quick car, the Finn will be fast...
Martin Whitmarsh has applauded Kimi Raikkonen's comeback, saying that as long as Lotus give him a quick car, the Finn will be fast.
Raikkonen, the 2007 F1 World Champion, will return to the grid this season, having signed a two-year deal to race for Lotus.
And one man who is relishing watching him in action is Whitmarsh, who was alongside Raikkonen at McLaren when he claimed 12 of his 18 grands prix victories.
"Kimi is a great guy, with a super talent," Whitmarsh said.
"He was very successful during his five seasons at McLaren, winning 12 grands prix for us and, although he narrowly failed to win a Drivers' World Championship during that time, he could easily have become World Champion in both 2003 and 2005 if he'd had a bit more luck or a little more reliability.
"Even as things were, without that extra bit of luck and reliability required to win World Championships, he still won 12 grands prix for us and some of those wins were truly majestic.
"During an FIA press conference at a grand prix in the latter half of last year - I forget where - I was asked by a journalist whether the team principals of the teams then rumoured to be considering Kimi for a 2012 drive, a couple of whom were sitting alongside me, should hire him or not. My answer was an unequivocal yes.
"I stand by that answer, and I'm pleased that he's made a Formula One comeback. He's a very popular driver, and I think Formula One will be the better for his return.
"No fewer than six World Champions will be competing in Formula One this season - more than ever before - and each of them, including Kimi, is not only a fantastic racing driver but also a colourful character with a robust fans' following and a unique global allure."
The McLaren team boss is also confident that as long as Lotus give Raikkonen a car capable of racing at the front, he will do it.
He told the official F1 website: "If the Lotus car is quick, Kimi will be quick in it; it's as simple as that in my view."