By Cheryl Tay
He was once the highest-paid driver in Formula One, when he moved from McLaren to Ferrari in 2007.
Back in the sport after a two-year hiatus during which he dabbled in the World Rally Championship and Nascar racing, Kimi Raikkonen - the Finn with the unmistakeable deadpan demeanour - is perhaps more popular than ever.
Driving for Lotus-Renault, this year marks the 32-year-old's 10th F1 season, but only the third time he is racing in Singapore.
He last raced here with Ferrari in 2009, when he finished 10th. In the inaugural 2008 edition, he crashed out late in the race.
"I haven't had very good races here.
When it gets more tricky, you try to make the best of it. You make a small mistake and there is a big change - that is the challenge," he said at a meet-and-greet session with the media on Wednesday.
"I remember it was quite bumpy, with one tricky chicane. This is not the easiest circuit to go fast on."
Therein lies the Finn's appeal despite his laid-back attitude - he is a speed demon who is always looking for the fastest laps around the race circuits.
In fact, he still holds the lap record of 1min 45.599sec for the 5.073km Marina Bay street circuit which he clocked in 2008.
On a slow track like Singapore's, Raikkonen still finds enough challenges to intrigue him.
He said: "It is a nice place to come to but it is quite humid and, of course, a bit different with the evening race.
"It's a street circuit so it always makes it a little bit more tricky when you try to get the best out (of your car). If you make a little mistake, there is a big chance to hit the wall, whereas in a normal circuit you have some run-off areas."
His comeback after two years has been good so far, with six podium finishes over 13 races.
Claiming that he didn't have any expectations for his comeback, Raikkonen said that there is no secret to his good performance, except pushing and working hard for the result.
"We could have probably done a bit better in some races; sometimes, it works out, sometimes, it doesn't, but it's okay," he said. "Of course, we want to be in first place, so, hopefully, we can have some in the races to come and see how it goes from there."
Indeed, a race win is something that Raikkonen has not achieved this season and he will be trying his best to erase the bad memories here.
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