Jerez (Spain): Kimi Raikkonen carried out one of his least favourite Formula One duties, answering media questions at a launch event, as if he had never been away on Monday and the Finn`s diehard fans will be thankful for that.
The 2007 world champion, making a comeback with Lotus two years after his last appearance for Ferrari, made clear at the presentation of his new E20 car that there had been no transformation in the intervening period.
The deadpan delivery, a low monotone like an idling V8 engine punctuated by an occasional blip of the throttle, sounded the same as ever and, Raikkonen indicated, so too was the racer inside.
"That was only your opinion," he growled when asked if he expected to enjoy Formula One more on his return than in 2009 when he had seemed at times to be lacking motivation.
"I would have left definitely earlier if I would have felt that I wasn`t having fun.
"I had never had any issues with that (motivation). This comes from something else, not from my mouth. I don`t think that I look to Formula One any differently. It`s a new year and different things but I know the sport and how things work here."
"I don`t expect to be much different. The racing is going to be slightly different but all the other things are more or less the same...I`m pretty sure it`s going to be a similar story."
Raikkonen, who will test the new car on Tuesday for the first time, added that changes such as the adjustable rear wing (DRS) would be easy enough to manage and a couple of days in a two-year-old car last month had eased any concerns.
"The tyres are probably the biggest difference since I left, and that`s what people were saying," he told reporters. "But since the test two weeks ago I have less worries about the whole thing than I had before."
Neither Lotus nor his army of fans will have any argument if Raikkonen, the sort of driver who always preferred to do his talking on the track, shows the speed and ice-cool bravery of old. Lotus team boss Eric Boullier said the Finn, whose comeback was announced in November, would fit right in at the renamed Renault outfit.
"Everybody is talking about this `Iceman` side of Kimi but, you know, when they meet him privately they understand he`s special, he`s a champion, he`s very friendly and you can talk to him easily," he told reporters.
"I think he hates to have too much PR obligations, he wants to focus on his racing...he will fit the spirit of this team," declared the Frenchman.