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Raikkonen returns to F1 with Lotus Renault

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LONDON (AP)

Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen will be back in a Formula One car next season after agreeing to return to action with the Lotus team.

Lotus Renault GP said Tuesday that the 2007 world champion, who quit in 2009 and switched to rallying, has signed a two-year contract.

The 32-year-old Raikkonen said he is glad to get back into action after experiencing mixed fortunes in the World Rally Championship and a subsequent stint in NASCAR.

''I wouldn't come back if I wouldn't be motivated,'' Raikkonen said on the team's website. ''There's always a lot of talk about motivation to race, but nobody really knows what I do or what I think apart from myself, so I don't really care what people think.

''I wouldn't put my name on the contract if I didn't think that I would really enjoy it. It will be exciting to get back. The main reason was that I never really lost the passion in racing in F1.''

Raikkonen won 18 Grands Prix, finished on the podium 62 times and took pole position 16 times in F1.

''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,'' said Gerard Lopez, the head of Luxembourg-based Genii Capital, which this year bought the final 25 percent of Renault's stake. ''We are all looking forward to working with a world champion.''

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Associated Press writer Matti Huuhtanen in Helsinki contributed to this report.

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