Lotus Renault GP has confirmed Kimi Raikkonen will return to Formula 1 racing next year, after having secured a deal to compete with the squad. Raikkonen has signed a two-year deal with the team.
Raikkonen, who had left Formula 1 at the end of the 2009 season, had been in talks with the Williams team about a possible return next year, but the deal fell through and he was immediately linked with Renault, which will be called Lotus from 2012.
The Finn, 32, moved from Formula 1 to the World Rally Championship, where he spent the last two seasons while also competing in one race of the NASCAR Truck Series and one Nationwide Series event. He won the World Championship in 2007 with Ferrari, having scored a total of 18 wins since he made his grand prix debut in 2001.
Lotus Renault was forced to search for another driver after Robert Kubica confirmed last week that he would not be ready to start the 2012 season following his dramatic accident in February.
"I'm delighted to be coming back to Formula 1 after a two-year break, and I'm grateful to Lotus Renault GP for offering me this opportunity," said Raikkonen. "My time in the World Rally Championship has been a useful stage in my career as a driver, but I can't deny the fact that my hunger for F1 has recently become overwhelming.
"It was an easy choice to return with Lotus Renault GP as I have been impressed by the scope of the team's ambition. Now I'm looking forward to playing an important role in pushing the team to the very front of the grid."
Team owner Gerard Lopez added: "All year long, we kept saying that our team was at the start of a brand-new cycle. Backstage we've been working hard to build the foundations of a successful structure and to ensure that we would soon be able to fight at the highest level.
"Kimi's decision to come back to Formula 1 with us is the first step of several announcements which should turn us into an even more serious contender in the future. Of course, we are all looking forward to working with a World Champion. On behalf of our staff, I'd like to welcome Kimi to Enstone [the team's UK base], a setting that has always been known for its human approach to Formula 1."