Exclusive interview – Kimi: Ah…I said I ‘hope’ my time will come!
Qualifying is not Kimi Raikkonen’s real strength – not so far in 2012, anyway. But when it counts he is there whenever points are within reach. If this is his pattern, then Sunday’s Montreal race should again see him bagging a good result. At least that’s what the Finn’s gut feeling tells him, despite a P12 grid slot…
Q: Kimi, out in Q2 – how did that come about?
KR: Well, we had a small issue with the hydraulics on the car and that cost us a bit. That’s a real shame.
Q: Do I sense a light irritation over that?
KR: Of course you want to be more in front, but things like that happen…
Q: What is it that is still standing between you and a victory for Lotus?
KR: My guess is that we still have to get stronger in qualifying, as that would give us a better chance to fight for points. So my plan for tomorrow is to fight back. And, of course, the aim always is to win, but sometimes it is better to fight for a good position and bag good points. If the win comes it comes! (laughs)
Q: You said recently that your time will come. When will that be? Which pieces have to fall into place?
KR: Ah, I said that I hope my time will come. (laughs) In the end it is only small details that you have to get right, to eliminate small mistakes, as they cost you a lot these days. I have to keep working and to improve the car with my engineers – then there is nothing to be said against a win.
Q: We hear words like ‘lottery’ in relation to the tyres, but never ‘full throttle’. Are we on the way to the casino or still on the track?
KR: No, that’s bull. There is nothing wrong with the tyres. You just have to get them working and try to make them last the whole race. (laughs) That is sometimes a bit tricky, but no rocket science.
Q: In your analysis, what will determine race wins – and hence the championship?
KR: A good car and a bad car. Okay, that is a bit too simple: you have to have a good package. But if you have a good car as a basis it gives you a much bigger chance, as the likelihood that the tyres will fall your way is much bigger. It is never just the tyres – that is a fairytale. It is not like if the tyres work at Marussia then they will start winning races – that will not happen, no matter how you look at it.
Q: During testing and at the start of the season the opinion was ‘forget about Ferrari this year’. Now Fernando Alonso is leading the drivers’ standings. Why?
KR: Obviously they’ve been doing things right lately – and other people have probably made more mistakes then their usual rate. And there you have it. Even if they haven’t got the fastest car they are able to score points. And in the meantime they’ve also improved the car – that helps.
Q: Ferrari and Lotus both have 86 points. Who will gain the upper hand?
KR: I have no idea. I cannot see into the future. (laughs) All I know is that we have to work hard, score good points, then we should be competitive. And for that you don’t need to look into a crystal ball, you just have to work.
Q: In Monaco you raced with the name James Hunt on your helmet. What did you see in him? Where do you see a connection between you? Soul mates?
KR: To cut a long story short, I like the times when he raced as I believe they had more fun than we have now. Would I have loved to race in those days? I not only cannot see into the future, I also cannot connect to the past. It is just that I believe the fun factor was higher, that’s all.
Q: Has it something to do with Lotus team principal Eric Boullier calling you a ‘wild animal’ that needs to ‘run free’? The ‘don’t fence me in’ character?
KR: I am sure he had his reasons to say that. (laughs) Fact is that I like to do my own thing, but I’ve never made a secret out of this.
Q: Your team mate seems to be a tough cookie. So far he has beaten you 5:2 in qualifying, but in the races you have had the upper hand. Is that down to experience and not panicking if Saturday doesn’t go your way?
KR: I knew that he would be fast, no matter how his first F1 experience was. He’s doing well and that is good for the team. I’m not giving away any secrets when I say that it is the Sunday when you get the points. I was always somebody who likes to focus on the essentials. (laughs)
Q: It’s been quite a while since you’ve raced in Canada and from your eight starts you’ve had one win, one P3 and several P4 and P5 positions. After qualifying today what are your thoughts?
KR: This is a tricky track and it is not so easy to get the car right here. The numerous kerbs in combination with the low downforce – that’s a challenge. It is a nice circuit.
Q: Despite the hiccups in qualifying, what’s your gut feeling for the race?
KR: Believe it or not I have a good feeling for Sunday. I might be wrong, but that is my feeling. I think that I should have a good race. This track allows a lot if you have the right speed. And as this is a track prone to safety-car phases, it could be a funny race.
Q: What would make you happy?
KR: Top five. No, actually better – top three. So let’s see what we can do.
Lotus F1 Team Q&A with Kimi:
Q: Kimi, P12 was not what you would have hoped for from qualifying; tell us about it from your perspective…
KR: We had a hydraulic issue which meant the diff wasn’t working the way it should do. It started in Q1 and the rest of the session was quite difficult from there. The car actually felt ok, but it was tricky to push hard for a fast time. Of course it’s disappointing and we definitely lost a bit of time because of it, but these things happen and we’re confident it will be fine for the race.
Q: How are the super soft tyres around here, and do you think they will play a big part in the result?
KR: To be honest, there’s nothing wrong with the tyres; it’s just about getting them working in the right window and making them last so you can run as quick as possible for as long as possible. The tyres play their part, but you need a good car in very area if you want to be fighting at the front. Our car has looked good on long runs all season and degradation is quite low here, so I don’t think there are any big worries there.
Q: You came through from P11 to take P2 in Bahrain; are you confident of repeating that performance here in Canada?
KR: You can never know these things until you reach the chequered flag. We’ve been stronger in the race than in qualifying and testing at every circuit this year, so fingers crossed for a good result. It’s meant to be a bit warmer again today and our car generally goes better in hot conditions. This is where the points are won, not in practice or qualifying. We’ll try to get a good start, avoid any problems in the first few corners and see where we go from there.