There are a few new things going on for the Lotus team in Formula 1 this year, but it mainly focuses to two things. The first it that the team is no longer called Lotus Renault GP. Its new name: Lotus F1 Team. Much simpler to roll it off the tongue, don’t you think?

The second main change to the team is the driver lineup. Petrov, Heidfeld and Senna have left for other pastures and Kubica will not return to Formula 1 anytime soon. Which means, there are two empty race seats, which is now filled by Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean; both are no strangers to Formula 1.

Kimi left Formula 1 at the end of the 2009 season. He went on to take part in Finland’s favourite hobby, rallying. Yet, success was far from his reach because the front-runners are fast. The difficulties Kimi faced was not just the transition from open-wheeled racers to rally cars but also the various surfaces in which he has to drive in one race. Yet, he still loved racing.

Rumours floated around the paddock on the return of Kimi to Formula 1, which is now made true. The deal to get back into Formula 1 came quick. He and the team shared common goals and every one was happy. However, Formula 1 has changed in two years.

To Kimi, the races don’t look any different that since he last left the sport. But he does acknowledge that the tyres and DRS can be a game-changer.

Kimi’s thoughts on the DRS is that the “drivers now can overtake by just opening the rear wing and leave the driver in front no chance to defend himself.” He questions if this is really overtaking and does not think that it counts all the time.

On the new tyre regulations, he said that there is now a big speed difference between when the tyres are fresh and old.

He said, “In the old Formula 1, you had to be so much faster than the guy in front of you to have any chance to overtake, but now with the tyres and the DRS, it’s different.”

About the KERS and DRS, this is what Kimi has to say, “I’ve driven with KERS before and DRS is just a button. Once you’ve done it a few times it will be come automatic.”

Driving with Kimi this year is Romain Grosjean. He started his career with Formula Renault and have close ties to the Renault team ever since. Between 2008 and 2009, Romain have competed in GP2 as well as becoming the test driver for ING Renault F1 Team. Notably, in the 2009, he started in seven races alongside then-teammate Fernando Alonso.

So, you could say that he is half of a rookie. Perhaps his biggest challenge this year is that there are many race circuits that he has no knowledge of. For example, last week’s race in Albert Park was his first as well. Other racetracks that are not known to him are Shanghai, Canada, India, Korea and America. To be fair, no one knows how the track in Austin, Texas, is going to be. What about Sepang? Well, it just so happens that it is one of Romain’s favourite, especially when the weather is right.

Romain also notes the one major difference when he last raced in 2009 is the tyres. He said, “We need them (tyres) working when we need, and save them when we need. Things have changed a lot since the Bridgestone era. It’s part of the show today, to manage your tyres, and we have seen some big, big differences in tyre wear on some tracks which have made Formula 1 more attractive than a few years ago.”

It is a fresh year for Lotus F1 and the season has only just begun. With Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean it would seem that Lotus F1 have a strong driver line-up; after all Kimi is no stranger on Sepang’s podium.

How will Lotus F1 Team fare in Sepang? Do keep your web browsers locked here as we will be bringing you daily coverage of the team.