There have been quite a few changes since Kimi last contested a grand prix.
Here are some of the more significant ones
Refuelling: Part of Formula One since 1993, in-race refuelling was banned by the FIA at the end of the 2009 season. Kimi has not completed a race since this regulation change, and has therefore never driven an F1 car containing a full distance’s worth of fuel.
In 2011, the ban of team orders was lifted by the FIA. The regulations still state that any actions liable to ‘bring the sport into disrepute’ will be reprimanded, however teams are permitted to switch the positions of their drivers on track.
New rules introduced for the 2012 season state that drivers may not make more than one change of direction to defend a position, but may move back onto the racing line if enough room is left between the car and the edge of the track.
Drag Reduction System (DRS) An aerodynamic aid introduced in 2011 to increase overtaking opportunities, the DRS system will be completely new to Kimi, although his reputation as one of the best overtakers in the sport will no doubt ensure that he uses it to full effect.
Adjustable Front Wings used by Kimi during his last season in 2009, the adjustable front wing was effectively replaced by the DRS system in 2011.
Tyres When Kimi left the sport in 2009, Bridgestone was the tyre supplier. In 2011 Pirelli took over this responsibility.
Delhi, India (Inaugurated 2011) and Austin, United States (Inaugurated 2012) are two circuits which Kimi will never have experienced (although the same can be said for the rest of the F1 grid with regards to Austin). By contrast the Turkish Grand Prix, in which Kimi was victorious in the 2005 season, has been removed from the calendar.
Of the 24 drivers competing in the 2012 season, Kimi will have faced only 60% of the field. Perhaps the most significant of these is fellow F1 returnee of 2010 Michael Schumacher – In 2003, Kimi finished just 2 points behind the German legend in the Drivers’ World Championship during only his third season of F1.
Aside from competing with the Lotus F1 Team in 2012, Kimi will encounter a host of new teams on this season’s grid.
The arrival of three new competitors (Team Caterham, Marussia F1 Team and HRT F1 Team) combined with the departure of the Toyota F1 Team and Brawn GP (now Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team) means his pitlane neighborhood looks very different.