Lotus' capture of Raikkonen was undoubtedly a gamble and a coup in equal measure.
A gamble because after two years trying his hand at rallying after ending his previous sojourn in F1 under a disaffected cloud, there was a huge question mark surrounding his motivation and attitude.
That was especially the case in joining a team outside the big three of Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari and not expected to challenge for a title.
But then it was a coup because on his day the Finn is without doubt one of the quickest, most daring racing drivers on the planet.
Last season there was certainly no disaffection as Raikkonen revelled in the relaxed, laid-back atmosphere of the Enstone-based marque and that was reflected in his results.
Only once in 20 races did the 33-year-old Finn fail to finish in the points and at present he is currently on a streak of 17 grands prix in the top 10.
That includes his never-to-be-forgotten victory in Abu Dhabi in which he uttered the immortal line 'Leave me alone, I know what I'm doing!' as the team attempted to help him to the finish.
The fact Raikkonen finished third in the drivers' championship, and the team fourth in the constructors', was a remarkable step forward.
If only team-mate Romain Grosjean had not gone off the rails on more than one occasion, as the Frenchman was the instigator of too many first-corner accidents, Lotus would likely have finished runner-up to Red Bull such was their overall progress.
But the bar has been set, with Lotus aiming to challenge for not just race wins this season, but potentially both titles.
From team owner Gerard Lopez's point of view, expectations are high as he said: "It's going to be a pretty bunched-up group and I would be surprised if we were outside of that group.
"Right now, I believe we've a car that is at least as good, and probably a little bit better, than the car we had last year."
Unfortunately for Lotus they endured an indifferent pre-season of testing in which they were undeniably quick but encountered issues, so for now the jury is out.
Outside of F1's 'big five', the midfield again looks congested and with little to differentiate between the four main rivals in Sauber, Force India, Williams and Toro Rosso.
Sauber topped that mini-league last season, ousting Force India from sixth, despite the latter collecting their highest points tally in their short history.
The Swiss marque boast an all-new driver line-up this season in Nico Hulkenberg - poached from Force India, which appears to be very much a sideways move for such a talent - and Mexican rookie Esteban Gutierrez who has stepped up from his role as reserve.
Hulkenberg, though, is convinced he has done the right thing as he said: "I am happy with where I am. I am confident I've made the right decision. That is good enough for me."
At Force India, the team have reacquainted their pairing from 2011 as Paul Di Resta partners Adrian Sutil, whose return was only confirmed at the end of February.
For Di Resta, the Scot faces a crucial year as his contract is up, with the assumption being he has to put Sutil in his place if he is to be retained or move on to the big team he craves.
Sutil, meanwhile, will have a point to prove after being axed in 2011, despite what boss Vijay Mallya described as the "exceptional form he showed in the second half" of that year.
At this early stage Williams appear strong and in rookie Valtteri Bottas they have one of the most promising drivers poised to make his bow for a long time.
As team principal Sir Frank Williams remarked Bottas to be "quite simply one of the most talented young racing drivers I have come across and we expect great things from him in the future".
Then there is the enigma in Pastor Maldonado, brilliant one race, as proven with his victory in Barcelona, but infuriating the next given his numerous visits to the stewards for a variety of infractions.
If the car is as good as many believe, and Maldonado can keep his cool inside the cockpit, the Grove-based marque could yet be pushing the top five, which would be long overdue.
Over at Toro Rosso you have two drivers in Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne who now no longer get on according to the Australian and who are also under intense pressure to boot.
The team have proven in the past they are not shy in axing drivers who do not perform and replacing them with another prospect from Red Bull's young driver academy, and that could again happen this year.
Then we have Caterham and Marussia, two teams still to win a point in F1 after three years and you wonder how either will break that duck this year.
Between the two marques there are three rookies - Giedo van der Garde at Caterham and Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi with Marussia.
Caterham's Charles Pic is the only one with experience and even then a solitary season with Marussia last year.
It is the battle of the backmarkers, albeit still an intense one as only the top 10 claim money from the prize pool.
For 11th, there is nothing, so expect a rivalry as keenly contested as the battle at the front.