Kimi Räikkönen has stepped inside a Formula 1 cockpit for the first time since the end of 2009, with the Lotus F1 team giving the Finn the first of two days’ acclimatisation running behind the wheel of a two-year-old Renault R30 challenger at Valencia’s Ricardo Tormo circuit.
The Finn, armed with a new black-and-white helmet design, got behind the wheel for an installation lap at 9:00AM local time, before getting down to business with a full day’s running at the Spanish circuit.
While his first outing in 2012-spec machinery will come in February’s three pre-season tests, Lotus F1 is free to run him as often as they want in older-spec cars fitted with demonstration Pirelli rubber. A selection of the best pictures is below:
Understandably, his first run generated plenty of media interest (although the press was barred from attending the test), and the team’s Twitter feed went into overdrive in its efforts to drum up interest as the day wore on.
“Kimi doing what he does best – flying around the Valencia circuit in an F1 car!” wrote one Tweet.
“Kimi looks very focused!” wrote another. “Kimi is flying! The Iceman looks happy to be back!”
And this: “We need to tell Kimi to slow down, @Lotus_F1Team’s camera can barely keep up!”
The team’s enthusiasm was rather different to the Finn’s comments after his first outing, and it’s important to note that no times were published by the team, and that his performance won’t be representative given the tyres he was using on the day, as well as him being in a two-year-old car.
Räikkönen took a rather more realistic approach when assessing his performance at the end of the day’s running, and warned F1 fans not to expect too much in his early outings with the team
despite the unhelpful comments to the contrary from the press office.
“It was nice to get back in the car,” he said in a scheduled interview with SKY Sports. “It was quite a few years since I have driven last time, [and] of course it takes a little while to get used to it. But the main driving, braking, turning, that doesn’t take many laps. But of course to start learning about the car and team and tyres, that will take time.”
[Images via Lotus F1 Media]