Kimi Raikkonen is adamant he will be as fast as he was before leaving Formula 1 when he returns to grand prix racing with Lotus next year.
The Finn has secured a two-year deal with the team and will make his comeback in 2012 after a two-season absence from Formula 1. Raikkonen, World Champion in 2007, says his motivation is higher than ever before and is confident he will be as quick as he was before he went rallying.
"I am more motivated than ever and I don't think I've lost any speed," said Raikkonen. "Getting on top of the tires will be the hardest thing, of course, but I'm not really worried.
"Although the technical regulations don't seem to change much, they apply to a lot of areas and quite a few elements will have to be redesigned. As a result, the cars will be significantly different next year. The order could be shaken up, which will make things very interesting."
The Finn says his visits to the team's factory have left him upbeat about his prospects for the year ahead.
"My two visits to Enstone have been great. The first one, at the team's Christmas party, made me realize how much support I have there. The second one, last week, allowed me to understand that this team has not been World Champion by coincidence.
"I also saw all the investments they have made recently: new simulator building, CFD upgrade, 60 percent wind tunnel.... It gives me a lot of confidence for the season ahead. I have been surprised at how big the reaction has been so I guess people must have missed me!"
He said returning to Formula 1 is like coming back home after two years in the WRC.
"Let's put it this way: before my two years of rallying I had nine seasons, 157 races and 18 wins in Formula 1. I know the sport well. When I went to rallying and when I tried NASCAR, there were many new things to learn, but with Formula 1 I feel like I'm coming home. I can't wait to get behind the wheel."