Source: autocar.co.uk | by Alan Henry
Kimi Räikkönen is the man most likely to win any of the remaining grands prix this season. And paradoxically could well win not a single race. Stick with my logic, please, for another few sentences. Then think about it and tell me if I am wrong.
The thing about Kimi, more than any of his contemporaries, is that he is a totally self-contained operator, almost completely impervious to psychological pressure from his rivals. You can tell from his wrinkle-free face that this is a competitor touched neither by elation or disappointment. On his day he is a formidable competitor out of the Häkkinen/Schumacher mould, but when things go wrong he remains utterly impassive.
Reading his mind was never difficult, as a friend inside McLaren confirms: “During his time with us, you could be absolutely certain by ten o’clock on a Friday morning in the pit lane whether he would deliver a magical performance in the race, or whether we should pack up the car in the transporter and take it straight back to the factory.”
Kimi also has a reputation for speaking straight from the chest, something which even took Ron Dennis slightly aback at one point in their relationship. But Kimi is a winner; Romain Grosjean may have a bright future, but Kimi could be the first Lotus world champion since Mario Andretti.
Enjoy this colourful Kimi Raikkonen Lotus F1 desktop this summer:
Despite having a weekend to forget in Monaco, Kimi considers the positives of another points finish and the importance it could have come the end of the year…
Q: Kimi, P9 was not exactly what you were aiming for this weekend; how was the race from your perspective?
KR: It wasn’t the best but sometimes that’s how it goes. We’ve been at the front all season so far and obviously we weren’t today, but Monaco is always a bit different. We got caught up in traffic a few times over the weekend, and I don’t think we really saw the true pace of the car today.
Q: You weren’t entirely happy with the car over the first two days of running; how did it feel today?
KR: At the start of the race the car felt very good. Eventually the tyres started to drop off a bit but we had done quite a few laps on them by that point. The soft tyres were a bit more tricky, especially in traffic and when the temperature dropped as it was hard to keep the temperature where it should be. Overall though the car felt ok today.
Q: You stayed out for quite a while in the first stint; what was the reason behind that decision?
KR: It was a difficult situation. We were expecting rain, and it didn’t make sense to change to another set of dry tyres if we may have to come in again for wets. In the end it didn’t really rain at all, apart from right at the end in certain parts of the track, but it was never enough to think about putting the intermediates on the car.
Q: Not the best race for the team; what can we take from today?
KR: We can’t say we achieved what we hoped for this weekend and it’s obviously disappointing, but if we can have a bad race like this and still take three points it’s not the end of the world. Picking up these points when we’re not at our best could make a big difference at the end of the season.
A disappointing end to a promising weekend for the team at Monaco this afternoon, with Romain’s race ending just moments after it had started and Kimi having to use all his experience to attain a top 10 finish.
Nerves in the paddock were at a fever pitch as the red lights went out to signal the start of the 2012 Monaco Grand Prix. After a few surprises in qualifying, all eyes were on the first lap to see how the field would emerge from the treacherous turn one.
Unfortunately for Romain, his race was over before he had even reached that point. A slightly slow start followed almost immediately by a clash with Michael Schumacher resulted in the Frenchman heading into the first corner sideways with his left rear suspension collapsed.
The only silver lining to a significantly sized cloud over the team’s weekend of course was that Kimi subsequently profited from his team-mate’s misfortune to move up into P7, having made a solid getaway and managing to avoid the melee.
A relatively calm opening phase of the race – setting aside the first lap fracas – saw Kimi in an intense battle with Michael Schumacher; the German driver lunging at the Finn into the chicane on several occasions only to see his attempts thwarted.
On lap 30, Kimi made his first trip to the pits for a set of the yellow marked soft tyres. With closest challenger Michael Schumacher choosing to run longer, the German managed to jump the Finn in the stops, along with the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne and Force India of Paul Di Resta.
More bad luck was to follow for the 2007 World Champion, as an altercation with Sergio Perez through La Rascasse cost him another place; this time to Nico Hulkenberg. Although the Sauber driver subsequently received a drive through penalty for his part in the incident, this made little difference to Kimi’s race.
Michael Schumacher’s retirement on lap 66 promoted the sole remaining E20 back into the points, and with a light shower – predicted to arrive at various stages throughout the race – finally materialising with just 8 laps remaining, there did seem to be a glimmer of hope that the Finn may be able to recover lost ground in the adverse conditions.
Although this failed to arrive, one man who pre-empted a potential downpour was Jean-Eric Vergne; switching to the intermediate tyres and quickly falling backwards. This handed Kimi another position, where he remained to eventually come home in a rather lonely P9.
Pos--Driver-------Team-----------------------Time 1. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1h46:06.557 2. Rosberg Mercedes + 0.643 3. Alonso Ferrari + 0.947 4. Vettel Red Bull-Renault + 1.343 5. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 4.101 6. Massa Ferrari + 6.195 7. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 41.500 8. Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes + 42.500 9. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault + 44.000 10. Senna Williams-Renault + 44.500 11. Perez Sauber-Ferrari + 1 lap 12. Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1 lap 13. Kovalainen Caterham-Renault + 1 lap 14. Glock Marussia-Cosworth + 1 lap 15. Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps Fastest lap: Perez, 1:17.298 Not classified/retirements: Button McLaren-Mercedes 71 Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 66 Pic Marussia-Cosworth 65 Schumacher Mercedes 64 Petrov Caterham-Renault 16 Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 6 De la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1 Maldonado Williams-Renault 1 Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1 World Championship standings, round 6: Drivers:--------------------Constructors: 1. Alonso 76 1. Red Bull-Renault 146 2. Vettel 73 2. McLaren-Mercedes 108 3. Webber 73 3. Ferrari 86 4. Hamilton 63 4. Lotus-Renault 86 5. Rosberg 59 5. Mercedes 61 6. Raikkonen 51 6. Williams-Renault 44 7. Button 45 7. Sauber-Ferrari 41 8. Grosjean 35 8. Force India-Mercedes 28 9. Maldonado 29 9. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 6 10. Perez 22 11. Di Resta 21 12. Kobayashi 19 13. Senna 15 14. Massa 10 15. Hulkenberg 7 16. Vergne 4 17. Schumacher 2 18. Ricciardo 2
Kimi Räikkönen – 9th: “Ninth was the best we could do today. I didn’t start in a great position and I had some difficulties during the race so it’s not been the easiest weekend, but at least we got a couple of points. It’s better than nothing but not exactly what we wanted. One race doesn’t change the fact that we have been pretty strong everywhere – even here at the beginning of the weekend. This circuit is completely different from any other and I don’t think we should worry too much about the fact that it wasn’t our best weekend. It is what it is – sometimes it doesn’t go the way you expected and now we should look to Canada for a better result.”
Romain Grosjean – DNF: “We struggled to get off the line and it looked like Lewis [Hamilton] in front didn’t have the best start either. Fernando [Alonso] pulled alongside him so I was then on the outside of both cars, and unfortunately Michael [Schumacher] was on the outside of me as well. There just wasn’t enough room and next thing I’m facing all the traffic after just one hundred metres which wasn’t a nice feeling. It’s a disappointing end to the week after some positive early signs, but that’s racing and now we look forward to Canada and a chance to bounce back.”
Eric Boullier, Team Principal: “We arrived in Monaco after two consecutive podiums and did not really know what to expect at such a unique circuit. Before qualifying it was obvious that the E20 was going to be competitive, but things did not go as planned. Our positions on the grid did not reflect our true pace and that put us on the back foot for the rest of the weekend. Unfortunately Romain’s race ended prematurely after contact with Michael Schumacher, and like the Stewards I think it was a racing incident. With Kimi, we knew that fighting for a podium was going to be more than difficult. It then became obvious that we were struggling with our tyres when the temperature fell. The grip was just not there and we could only defend our position. In the end, the two points we’ve scored today are disappointing but because the field is so tight we have not lost too much ground on our opponents. We have the same number of points as Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship, while Kimi is 25 points away from Fernando Alonso who’s leading the drivers’ classification. Anything can still happen and the championship is wide open. We’re now looking forward to Montreal, the first low downforce track of the season, where the E20 should be strong. Finally, I wish to congratulate the team for all their hard work this weekend. Our 500th was not one of our best, but I hope the 501st is!”
James Allison, Technical Director: “We’ve had five races so far this season where we’ve shown strongly. Sadly, at the sixth we were not on the pace. It was a completely joyless experience from start to finish. Romain has been metronomic this weekend, but he was out of the race before the first corner which was a massive blow to our hopes for today. Kimi had an okay start, but wasn’t able to keep the car running at a challenging pace once the sheen came off his tyres after ten or fifteen laps. We stayed out longer than we would have done otherwise on the first set of super soft tyres as we, and everyone else, were waiting for rain to come. Now we have to pick ourselves up and come back in Canada to bring both cars home in strong placings.”