Autosport Interview – “It’s more open here than Formula 1″
By David Evans
AUTOSPORT rallies editor
Kimi Raikkonen’s World Rally Championship
campaign begins with one of its biggest tests, Rally Sweden, this
weekend. AUTOSPORT’s David Evans talked to the Finn during his
preparations for the event
Q. When did you decide you wanted to go to the WRC?
Kimi Raikkonen: Last year. I always had the passion for the WRC and I
wanted to try and see how it is. After whatever happened at the end of
the year we found the solution to race with the great team and Red Bull
helping with the sponsorship. In the end it wasn’t so difficult choice
[to come to WRC].
Q. Have you missed anything from F1 yet?
KR: So far, no. I’m excited to have this challenge now. Everything is
new. I was in F1 for a long time and I don’t miss it now. In the future,
Q. Which rally are you looking forward to the most?
KR: Any rally really. Apart from Jyvaskyla [on Rally Finland], where I
know it a little bit, everything is new. I don’t know the places or the
stages or anything. It’s always exciting to go to a new place and see
how it is. In Formula 1 sometimes there is a new place, but usually the
testing and everything is the same. Now everything is new, so it’s
Q. What’s the biggest challenge for you this year?
KR: Just to learn everything. There is so much to learn and to get the
experience on all different conditions. Making the notes and listening
to them right is also tough. I need to learn everything.
Q. Which is the most difficult part, learning the notes?
KR: You can make them, but to try and make them exactly as you want –
and to drive on them at full speed is not so easy. You can make the
notes, but if it’s not exactly like it should be, then you can’t drive
as fast as possible.
Q. Olivier Quesnel has already said that if you have a good year this
year, you could be Sebastien Loeb’s team-mate for next year. How do you
feel about that?
KR: There are a lot of stories, always. I want to learn things and be a
good as we can be and then see what happens.
Q. Long term, do you want to be World Rally champion?
KR: It would be great, but we have done one rally with the car and we
start next week in Sweden. Let’s wait and see what happens.
Q. What about podiums later in the year?
KR: I don’t really know what to expect because it’s such a new thing. I
know it’s difficult and I want to get in the points in the beginning.
Later in the year when we have some more experience, we can be a bit
faster. Let’s wait and see.
Q. What about on asphalt?
KR: Overall, this should be a bit more easy. Okay, it’s a different car,
but the feeling is much more easy to find. Comparing the surfaces, the
snow is the most difficult to be fast and get everything right. I did
only one gravel rally last year and that surprised me that it’s much
more similar to asphalt than the snow. It should be easier, but I
haven’t driven the car on asphalt, so I don’t know yet.
Q. There’s a natural assumption that you’ll look forward to asphalt
rallies more than gravel. Is this right?
KR: Yes. I know more about driving on asphalt than any other surface. It
definitely helps to find the right line and to find the braking point.
In that way, it should be easier, but until we do the first test or
rally, it’s impossible to say.
Q. What do you think about Michael Schumacher’s return to F1?
KR: For me, it doesn’t matter. I have seen something in the paper,
probably he started to miss it and now he has a good option. Good for
Q. Did you follow the testing yesterday?
KR: No. I see just in the newspaper, like every day, if it’s in the
newspaper, you see it. I didn’t follow it on the internet. I have a new
challenge now and I’m more interested in this. Even when I raced in
Formula 1, if I didn’t do the test, I didn’t look for the times.
Q. How have you found the other WRC drivers?
KR: I know some of them, I met some in earlier days. They’re very nice.
It’s more open here than Formula 1. The teams are friends together more
than F1. It’s great and people have been very helpful. It’s a more warm
feeling here, people are more together. In Formula 1 you race each
other, here you race the clock – it’s slightly different, but the people
Q. Have you turned your back on F1 completely now?
KR: I already kind of did it, so we see what happens in the future.
Q. What’s your deal with Red Bull.
KR: It’s [for] one year.
Q. What did you think of your performance on the Arctic Rally? Was it
what you wanted?
KR: Of course we went off on the first day and got stuck in the snow
bank for a long time. But I don’t really feel I have the good feeling
with the car like I want it. I brake three times in one place where you
should be braking once. There are still many areas where I can improve.
We were not so far away from Dani [Sordo]‘s times. I need more
experience, more running and more time with the people running the car. I
was pretty happy in the end.
Purely the rally was for me to get used to the car and to try some
different things. It was quite difficult conditions with the fresh snow
and things like that. It was good practice and it definitely helped me
for the next one.
Q. What’s the aim for Rally Sweden?
KR: We’re hoping for a good clean rally without any mistakes and then we
see where we are. I have no idea where we will be. I want to try to do
the best I can and have a good rally.
Q. Any more snow testing now?
KR: No. Just the shakedown before the event.
Q. What about gravel testing? When do you drive the car on the loose?
KR: It’s after Sweden sometime. I don’t know the date, but it will be
Q. Is it possible for you to do more smaller rallies this year?
KR: I don’t know, we will have to see.
Q. But you will get a lot of testing on gravel – enough time in the car?
KR: I will get something around 10 to 15 days. I have no idea how many
the others are doing, but this is pretty okay.
Q. Is rallying more difficult than Formula 1?
KR: Every sport is difficult when you start, but there are so many more
things you cannot really change, the condition changes: it is what it
is, but in Formula 1 you go to the same circuit and lap by lap you know
it’s going to be the same. But, in rallying, you can go from one stage
to the next and it can be completely changing. There are many things
that can change in rallying and you cannot affect those areas.
Q. Is rallying more fun than F1?
KR: It’s more relaxed, definitely. More fun, it depends what you like: I
like it because every corner is different in rally. There are a lot of
things which can challenge you and in the end you are driving against
yourself. Okay, you can go more sideways when you are sliding, but it’s
probably not the fastest way – going forward is faster. It’s just a
Q. What’s the feeling for WRC among the other drivers in Formula 1?
KR: I don’t really know because I don’t know how many F1 drivers know
the sport that well. [Robert] Kubica has definitely done it for fun and
[Heikki] Kovalainen knows the rally side. But I don’t think the other
drivers really have so much knowledge of what is rallying compared to
Formula 1, so it’s a bit tricky to say.
(Read Kimi Raikkonen’s diary of his Arctic Rally weekend, exclusively in
this week’s AUTOSPORT magazine)