Kimi Raikkonen's acquisition is not a PR ploy, says Lotus chief Bahar
Group Lotus chief executive Dany Bahar has dismissed claims the signing of Kimi Raikkonen was nothing more than a stunt to improve the team's Public Relations.Kimi Raikkonen. Pic/Getty Images
Lotus have taken a risk in luring 2007 world champion Raikkonen back to Formula One following a two-year absence during which he competed in the World Rally Championship.
It has come at significant expense given Raikkonen's financial demands, coupled with the fact they have also opted to dispense with the services of Vitaly Petrov, who brought in considerable sponsorship money from Russia.
Instead, Lotus believe Raikkonen is the man to drive them towards their target of achieving victories next year.
"This is a big, big change in strategy we have agreed together," said Bahar of Group Lotus' partnership with team owners Genii Capital. "It's not about a marketing exercise, as I read in the press, or a business platform for the shareholders.
"It's about the Formula One team, and that is about performance, and that is when you are on the podium.
Bahar, though, is convinced Raikkonen will not let anybody down, despite his clear disaffection with the sport in his final year with Ferrari in 2009. "Kimi is a very good guy, a very cool guy. We respect him a lot, and that is the reason he is with us," said Bahar.
"He has matured a lot. He is 32 now, so he is a grown-up man. He knows his return to Formula One will not be easy. "But he is not the kid any more he was in Sauber or McLaren. It's a different time and he has to deliver. I think he realises that."