TORONTO - Two years after winning the Formula One world championship in 2007 Kimi Raikkonen found himself out of a job after he being lured to Ferrari, only to be jettisoned after the 2009 season in favour of Fernando Alonso.
In a fit of pique Raikkonen declared he was through with dealing with the ugly politics of F1 and signed a contract to go rally racing with the Citroen Junior Team.
And last season he raced twice in NASCAR — once in the Camping World Truck Series and once in the Nationwide Series — for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
But with only one victory in two World Rally Championship seasons and so-so results in NASCAR, Raikkonen let it be known near the end of the 2011 season he would like to come back to F1.
On Tuesday he signed a two-year deal to drive for the Lotus Renault squad starting in 2012.
It is doubtful he will be getting anywhere near the $51 million (US) a season he was paid by Ferrari, however.
“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,” Raikkonen said in a team release.
Raikkonen became the target driver for Lotus Renault after Robert Kubica announced last week he had not yet sufficiently recovered from injuries suffered in a crash during the Ronde di Andora rally last February.
STEWART SIGNS ADDINGTON
Surely there is a lot more to the story of the split between Tony Stewart and crew chief Darian Grubb during his dramatic NASCAR Sprint Cup championship run that wound up 10 days ago at Homestead Miami Speedway.
After winning the opening two races of the 10-race Chase for the Championship at Chicagoland and New Hampshire and then faltering at Dover and Kansas, Stewart told Grubb before the race at Charlotte that he would not be back with the No. 14 Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet team in 2012.
All Grubb did from that point on was lead Stewart to three wins and one second-place finish over the next five events.
Yet Stewart was adamant that Grubb would not be re-hired and on Monday made it official that Steve Addington will replace Grubb.
Addington has been crew chief at Penske Racing for Kurt Busch for the past two seasons, and before that was crew chief for Kurt’s brother, Kyle, at Joe Gibbs Racing.
“I know Steve well, and I know how he goes about setting up a race car,” Stewart said. “My comfort level with him is already strong. He balances the technical part of our sport with the real-world experiences we get at the track, and that will allow for a smooth transition as we prepare to defend our title in 2012.”
Grubb, however, is not likely to be out of a job for long.
His former employer — Rick Hendrick of Hendrick Motorsports — has already talked to him about an engineering position.
“Darian is a very smart guy,” Hendrick said. “I know he’s entertaining a lot of offers out there. We don’t have a crew chief role. We have an engineering role that we think Darian would be really good in. But at the end of the day it’s got to be what Darian wants to do.”
NO NASCAR AT HONDA INDY
Just a week after announcing that it had started its ticket sales for the 2012 Honda Indy Toronto, the annual speed festival at Toronto’s Exhibition Place found itself left off of the NASCAR Canadian Tire schedule for next season.
NASCAR sent out a 12-race calendar that includes a return to the Edmonton Indy race on July 22 after a one-year absence but no date for Toronto.
The NCATS season will start at Mosport International Raceway, May 20, as part of the Victoria Day Speedfest weekend.
It also includes races at Mosport’s 1/2 mile oval and a return to the NAPA 100 at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve as part of the NASCAR Nationwide race weekend.
Races will also be held in Vernon, B.C., Saskatoon, Antigonish, N.S. with the season finale at Kawartha Speedway near Peterborough.
No reason was given for not racing in Toronto but the schedule has left room for that date should an agreement be reached in the next few months.
Honda Indy tickets, meanwhile, can be purchased at hondaindytoronto.com/tickets or call 1-877-503-6869.