Thursday’s press conference – Welcome back Kimi!
DRIVERS – Charles PIC (Marussia), Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus), Daniel RICCIARDO (Toro Rosso), Jenson BUTTON (McLaren), Sebastian VETTEL (Red Bull), Mark WEBBER (Red Bull).
Q. Kimi, welcome back. How much has Kimi changed in the two years that you’ve been doing WRC? And how much has your driving changed during that time?
Kimi RAIKKONEN: Oh, I don’t know really. I don’t think a lot, a little bit older, that’s all. It’s the same really.
Q. Has it been good to be back in a Formula One car again?
KR: Yeah, it was nice. It really hasn’t changed a lot, the car feels pretty similar, the tyres are slightly different but I was expecting to have more difficulties with them but they seem pretty good, especially when they are new – but of course they will wear out a bit faster but it’s been nice to drive.
Q. We’ve seen pretty good pace from you and Romain Grosjean your team-mate, how real is that pace?
KR: We could probably have gone a bit faster if we wanted but I don’t know what the others are doing. The car feels good, the lap time at least in testing was OK – whether it’s enough we will see over the weekend and over the next races but so far it has been OK.
QUESTIONS FROM FLOOR
Q. (Simon Cass – Daily Mail) For the three guys who’ve won the world title up to now. Could you just tell me who your grand prix hero is? And Kimi, if you decide you want to say you still haven’t got a hero, then could just tell me who you admired when you were coming up through the ranks?
SV: Kimi to start!
KR: I still don’t have one! Of course, I was hoping for good results for Finns but I didn’t really… it didn’t make any difference who won it then. There wasn’t one guy I hoped for or was looking up to so…
SC: Nice try…
JB: Do you still want ours or not?
SV: Obviously, when I was growing up, and I think similar to a lot of kids at that age in Germany, we were admiring Michael [Schumacher]. He was our hero, he was my hero. I had posters of him on my wall. And when I got a bit older I took them off and put some other posters on the wall, but anyway… So I was looking up to Michael but there have been and there are a lot of great drivers. For sure for me Michael is one of them.
JB: For me, it was a little bit earlier than Michael. For me it was Ayrton [Senna] and Alain [Prost] back in the early ’80s, because that’s when I started watching Formula One, at seven or eight years old. Obviously ‘Our Nige’ [Nigel Mansell] has got to be up there, just for the moustache more than anything else. But yeah, it’s difficult. Those are the guys I watched when I was younger. I suppose you get some inspiration from them and you want to be like them in the future. That’s obviously a lot of our aims.
Q. (Fulvio Solms – Corriere dello Sport) A question for Kimi. In this your second career, what do you bring from your experience at Ferrari?
KR: I don’t think this is my second career. I’ve been racing all the time, just in a different thing. I’ve been racing at a few different teams and all the teams run a slightly different way, mainly because they are all different nationalities, but you always learn from all the people and all of the teams and I have good memories, most of the time, of the teams. I try to get things in the team how I know I like it and I’m very happy with the team, they’ve been great people to work with – easygoing, no real need to change anything, and just if you like to do something differently, they’re happy to try to do it that way and it’s just been a good experience.
Q. Paolo Ianieri (La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, in 2007, when you started your first race with Ferrari, you won here; it was quite a big surprise. In winter testing, you have been very fast and many people have been saying you could be the surprise here this year as well. Do you think this is something we can expect, or are you ruling that out?
KR: Like I said before, I have no idea where we are going to be. We had a good winter, it could have been better but hopefully we are fast. We will know during the weekend but I think that many teams will be fast so… Are we going to be in the front? I don’t know, we hope we are going to be but let’s wait and see.
Q. (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, you have come here with many new cars. Compared to 2004, let’s say, McLaren, 2009, Ferrari, is this better or worse? How do you feel?
KR: Usually you have a new car here every year, so it’s not a big surprise. I don’t know, it’s different tyres, the car feels very similar in the test to what I remember in the past. You have DRS, it’s just a button that you push, it doesn’t really change the driving itself a lot. It feels similar, I don’t have very good things to compare, really, because it’s a few years since I last drove a Formula One car. It doesn’t feel much different.
Q. (Adrian Rodriguez – Agencia EFE) Kimi, you’ve been in Formula One for many years and the last two years you’ve been watching from the outside; what do you like the best from Formula One and what is the worst for you?
KR: I didn’t see much in the last few years so, like I said, it’s the same people, similar stuff going on. In my mind, it hasn’t really changed a lot. I have nothing really to comment on that.
Q. (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Kimi, if Formula One is so far from you that you didn’t even watch the race, why did you come back?
KR: I had other things to do than watch the races. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like the sport. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t be here. I always liked the sporting and the racing but like I said, I was busy doing other stuff. I watched some races when I was home and it was on TV, but I didn’t try to go to the TV and watch it somewhere, like it was something I had to do. I’m happy to be back, like I said, otherwise I wouldn’t have come back but I like the racing in Formula One.
Q. (Matt Coch – pitpass) Following the track thread a bit, you guys have all had long careers and driven on a number of different circuits. If you could pick one circuit, taking the event out of equation, just picking one circuit, what’s your favourite track – ever?
JB: Wow, that’s a tough one. Obviously you’d look at most on the F1 calendar for your best track. For me I love the fast flowing circuits, I think we all do, like Spa or Suzuka but also circuits on other calendars. Macau is crazy to drive in an F3 car, good experiences there. And some other circuits in karting. It’s difficult to pick one.
CP: For me, I think it’s Nurburgring and Barcelona.
DR: I think that out of the F1 calendar I think Macau as well. I would definitely vote to race an F1 around there. I think it would be awesome.
SV: I’ve got more than one. The question was name your favourite one. I don’t have only one so…
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