| Source: lotusf1team.com |
Kimi heads to Austin looking for a longer race than last time out, and expecting to enjoy some good ol’ fashioned American hospitality.
Q: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE CIRCUIT OF THE AMERICAS?
KR: It’s a nice circuit. The layout is quite interesting and the racing last year was good. The sectors of the track are fairly different, so there’s a challenge there. Last year the days started out pretty cold so it was very slippery, but hopefully now it’s been used a bit more the track surface won’t be as shiny, so it should be easier to get the car as we want it.
Q: YOU’LL BE USING THE SHORTER WHEELBASE CAR AGAIN; WHY IS THIS?
KR: It has a better feeling for me and seems to make it easier for me to get more of what I want from the car. We’ve been trying to get rid of understeer to get the car more as I want it and the shorter car helps with this.
Q: ANY THOUGHTS LOOKING BACK AT YOUR RACE IN ABU DHABI?
KR: It wasn’t the longest race I’ve been in; certainly not as good as my 2012 race there either. Obviously it wasn’t ideal, but that’s the way things go sometimes. We should have a much longer race in Austin.
Q: WHAT’S YOUR PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE OF RACING IN THE US?
KR: I competed in seven Grands Prix at Indianapolis. Unfortunately the one time I felt I had a really strong car there it was 2005 when only six cars raced and I wasn’t one of them. I did get pole position in 2003, but none of the races there are ones I remember well. In 2011 I tried NASCAR. I did two races on the Charlotte oval and I really liked it a lot. That was probably the experience I needed to open my eyes for racing again. After that I really wanted to come back to Formula 1, while it was a tempting idea to do more NASCAR too.
Q: HOW ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO RACING IN AUSTIN AGAIN?
KR: After going there for the first time last year – like everyone – I’m particularly looking forward to this one. I like the American atmosphere, it’s just a relaxed environment. They know how to have fun, and most of all they love racing.
Q: WHAT ARE YOUR MEMORIES OF LAST YEAR’S RACE?
KR: It was an okay day, but not a very easy one for us. I got a bad start and then I touched with another car on the first lap so I had a lot of work to do. We were using quite hard tyres for the race so it was difficult to get the performance you wanted from them; especially when it got cooler because of the clouds that day. Hopefully it’ll be clear skies this year.
Q: DO YOU THINK A BETTER PERFORMANCE IS POSSIBLE THIS YEAR?
KR: The car has been feeling pretty good and we’ve seen some good races this year. We won’t know how good it is in Austin until we’re out on track, but we’re certainly pushing for a good result.
| Source: lotusf1team.com |
After a challenging Indian Grand Prix, our Finn heads to the scene of his first race victory for Lotus F1 Team fired up for a strong result
Q: HOW’S THE FEELING HEADING BACK TO THE SCENE OF YOUR 2012 RACE VICTORY?
KR: You just approach it like any race. I had a good result there last year, but I had a very boring race there the first time I visited in 2009. I’d prefer to have another good result, but you don’t know how strong you’ll be until you get to the circuit.
Q: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE YAS MARINA?
KR: It’s a great place to go. The circuit is connected to big entertainment centre and you’ve got all the boats moored next to the circuit. There are often a lot of passionate fans watching the race and for me the hotel is walking distance from the track which I like. It’s also good to race at a circuit where you have had a strong result before.
Q: ANYTHING ELSE IN ABU DHABI THAT’S GOOD FOR YOU?
KR: I like to be on a familiar time zone so you can wake up normally and do everything in the expected order. That’s one of nice things with this race; especially with it starting so late.
Q: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE CIRCUIT ITSELF?
KR: The facilities are second to none. The track layout makes it really challenging for overtaking as there are not too many places to pass. You really have to qualify well to be at the front and get a strong result from there. There are many corners, you need good overall downforce and grip, plus the car has to ride the kerbs very well too. It’s a track where you really hope to get everything nicely together during the whole weekend. When you succeed with that, it’s a good place to race. I have had one very boring race being stuck in the middle group and then one great race fighting for the victory at the top. I know which I prefer.
Q: YOUR RACE IN 2009 WASN’T ONE OF YOUR FAVOURITES THEN?
KR: That was a boring one I can tell you! I finished back in twelfth position and there was nothing I could do about it. Those sorts of races are not the best.
Q: HOW DID IT FEEL TO TAKE YOUR 19TH WIN IN ABU DHABI LAST YEAR?
KR: I was very happy for the team; myself also obviously, but mainly for the all the crew and everyone at Enstone. It was a hard season so the win was well deserved for everyone and just what we needed. It was something great for all the fans who have continued to support me and the team too. For me, it was just another win on the list. It’s great of course because it had been a few years, but the wins before were very similar; we didn’t have the best car, but we fought hard and still won.
Q: HOW DOES THE EVENING RACE TIMING INFLUENCE THE RACE?
KR: An evening race means I can get up later! Having a mixture of day and night makes a different challenge from circuits that we see anywhere else. We start with the sun and finish with the lights. It’s different, interesting and spectacular for the fans to watch too.
Q: YOU’VE HAD SOME GREAT RACES WHERE YOU’VE MOVED UP THE ORDER SUPERBLY; WHAT’S THE KEY TO OVERTAKING IN FORMULA 1?
KR: You cannot plan it beforehand. Often an occasion comes suddenly and you have to jump on it immediately. Sometimes you get it right, sometimes not. More often nowadays you have to sit for quite a while behind somebody to work out where you can do it. Sometimes you just have to wait to see if the guy in front makes a mistake or if his tyres are finished quicker than yours; that’s when you do it.
Q: HOW WAS YOUR INDIAN GRAND PRIX?
KR: We tried something different with a one stop strategy and it didn’t work, but we didn’t lose anything by making a late second stop over running the normal two stop strategy. I had a brake problem for all of the race where they were overheating, and this got worse in traffic so I couldn’t overtake.
Q: WHAT’S YOUR TARGET FOR ABU DHABI?
KR: A race like last year would be good, rather than the one I had there in 2009.
| Source: lotusf1team.com |
Our Finn heads to India looking forward to the cuisine and hoping for a stronger qualifying position than of late.
Q: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE BUDDH INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT?
KR: It’s quite an interesting track; one of the better ones from the modern circuits. It’s quite similar to Korea; long straights, not terribly challenging corners and hard braking. It’s not as technical as Korea which was another new track for me last year, but it’s good. It’s always nice to go to a new place like India. It’s certainly a good track to go fast with a strong car in front of all the others!
Q: HOW WAS YOUR FIRST – AND ONLY – RACE AT THE TRACK SO FAR?
KR: It was okay but it could have been better. We struggled for grip over the weekend last year and we made life difficult with the change of setup before qualifying. After that there was nothing really to do on Sunday. In the race itself we had enough speed to challenge for the top positions, but we got stuck behind slower cars and overtaking was impossible. I can remember spending a lot of the race trying to get past Felipe [Massa] so that wasn’t ideal.
Q: DID YOU GET TO SEE MUCH OF INDIA?
KR: No, it was my first visit and I spent my time in the paddock and the hotel. We only come to race and India is a very big country! The thing I like is eating Indian food, which I really enjoy.
Q: JAPAN WAS QUITE A STRAIGHTFORWARD RACE FOR YOU?
KR: It was a pretty normal race I would say and it’s good that we got some points. I had a very poor start where I left the line with a lot of wheelspin and lost a few places. This wasn’t ideal and it meant I got stuck in traffic, but I managed to gain some places back later on.
Q: YOU SPOKE OVER THE WEEKEND OF THE CAR FEELING MORE TO YOUR LIKING, WHICH MUCH BE A POSITIVE LOOKING TO THE REMAINING RACES OF THE SEASON?
KR: The car felt pretty strong all weekend at Suzuka and we’ve made good progress with it recently. It’s still not exactly as I want it and we’re trying to get rid of some understeer which is something I don’t like. In Japan it was hard to show our real pace at the beginning of the race as I was stuck behind slower cars for quite a long time. After the final pit stop when I got a bit of free air the car was working much better. It ran well in the last half of the race and I was very happy with it.
Q: WE SAW SOME MORE GREAT OVERTAKING MOVES FROM YOU…
KR: Unfortunately when you don’t have an ideal qualifying it makes life a bit harder on Sunday. It’s not easy to overtake at Suzuka and we weren’t so fast in a straight line which made it more tricky, but I got past a few people which was important after the slow start. With Nico [Hulkenberg] I managed to get a good run on him leading up to the chicane which is what made the difference. We did what we could.
Q: WHAT’S THE TARGET FOR INDIA?
KR: Hopefully we finally get it right in qualifying as the last five qualifying sessions have not been that great for me. If we don’t, it’s going to be a difficult Sunday afternoon, although of course we’ll keep pushing. If we do get it right, then we can really go for it!
| Source: lotusf1team.com |
After a fight up the order to second place in Korea, our Finn is at the top of his game heading to one of his very favourite circuits, Suzuka…
Q: SUZUKA IS UP NEXT; WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE CIRCUIT?
KR: Normally it doesn’t make too much difference to me where we race – as long as we have a good result then I’ll enjoy it – but this is a track I look forward to every season. It’s a proper circuit that’s been around for a many years, and you can understand why as it’s a challenge for the drivers and usually makes for some good racing too. Suzuka is fast, technical and there are some good places to overtake, which to me is what racing should be about.
Q: YOU DESCRIBE IT AS A CHALLENGE; WHAT IS IT THAT REALLY PUSHES YOU IN THE COCKPIT HERE?
KR: It’s a bit of everything really. There are some corners where you are flat out – or very nearly flat out – but then there are others where you really have to balance the braking and throttle carefully to maintain the best speed. If you push too hard then you can easily be punished, as I found out in qualifying last year when I was on my best lap in the final session. Hopefully this time we’ll get everything right and be fighting at the front; that’s where you can have the most fun at a circuit like Suzuka.
Q: WOULD YOU SAY THIS IS QUITE A SPECIAL VENUE FOR YOU AS A DRIVER?
KR: As a racing circuit it has unique characteristics and belongs in the top three in the world with Spa and Monaco. I enjoy winning races the most at the places like these. For me coming to Suzuka was never that enjoyable because of the long journey, but driving a Formula 1 car on the track has felt great every time. I had a good race at Fuji too. It was that wet race back in 2007 when I came from pretty far back to a podium finish, but Suzuka 2005 is my best memory from Japan. It’s very difficult to say which is your best race – especially if you have won many – but coming from the last row of the grid to take victory at a place like this is one I remember very, very well.
Q: WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT JAPAN AS A COUNTRY?
KR: I particularly like Tokyo and always have a good time when I visit there. It’s a fun place, there is a lot going on, and I do enjoy sushi…
Q: WHAT DO THE JAPANESE FANS MEAN TO YOU?
KR: Since my first ever visit to Japan back in 2001 with Sauber, I’ve always enjoyed the almost fanatic loyalty of the local fans. They really support you, no matter what position you are racing for. Maybe that Suzuka victory was the best memory for them too. Even last year – after being out of Formula 1 for two seasons – I still had a lot of Japanese fans all over the world. For sure, that feels nice! Whenever I race or go rallying, there are always some Japanese supporters around and I appreciate the support.
Q: IT WAS ANOTHER STRONG RACE RESULT FROM YOU IN KOREA, WITH SOME CLOSE RACING BETWEEN YOU AND ROMAIN…
KR: It was quite close I guess but we both came out of it okay. He basically gave me second place with a small mistake at the end of the lap after the restart and I already knew there were yellow flags into Turn 3, so I knew if I overtook him into Turn 1 he wouldn’t be able to pass me back. It wasn’t too difficult; he defended pretty hard but I managed to get through.
Q; WAS MORE POSSIBLE HAD YOU QUALIFIED BETTER?
KR: Qualifying was pretty awful for me in Korea, but it’s difficult to say whether a better grid position would have made the difference. Sebastian [Vettel] was faster than us at the end; not massively, but a little bit for sure and his tyres were fresher too so I think it would have been tough to catch him in any case. We were closer to the Red Bull in Korea than we have been in some races, but not close enough…
Q: DO YOU THINK THERE’S THE POTENTIAL TO ADD TO YOUR WIN TALLY BEFORE THE END OF THE SEASON?
KR: If we can improve our performance on Saturdays then there’s always a chance, so we’ll keep trying for sure and see what we can do.