2014 GP Previews

Kimi: Spa is my favourite but Suzuka comes close!

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Kimi Raikkonen was in buoyant mood after the Singapore Grand Prix. The Scuderia Ferrari man’s good humour was down to the fact he felt he had made a significant step forward in getting his F14 T to behave the way he likes his racing cars to feel.

“In Singapore, we finally had the speed to put together a quick single flying lap in qualifying, as the car behaved the way I’d been hoping for. It was just a shame we could not maximise the performance of the car because of a minor issue before the last flying lap. It meant we could not do much in the race, as I was stuck in traffic and couldn’t exploit my pace. But for me, the positive thing that weekend was I finally had a good feeling from the car, something I had been waiting for a long time this year.”

After the streets of Singapore, the Formula 1 circus heads for one of the classic venues and you don’t need to know much about Kimi Raikkonen to realise that Suzuka is just the sort of track he loves.

“It’s a high power circuit, but also technically very challenging. So we are looking forward to see how our car goes there compared to the front running teams. I like Suzuka a lot. It’s an old-school type of racing circuit, the sort that always gives me the best feeling. I’d have to say my favourite is Spa-Francorchamps, but Suzuka comes very near in my ranking.”

The Finn has mainly positive memories of his nine appearances at Suzuka (the Japanese GP took place in Fuji in 2007 and ’08 and Kimi had his two year F1 sabbatical in 2010 and ’11.)

“Apart from my first ever time in Japan and Suzuka, when I was driving for Sauber and had to retire after crashing with Alesi, I have finished every single race in Japan and I have got some really good results, as well. Winning the 2005 race was one of my best ever drives.”

[ Source: ferrari.com ]

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Thursday in Spa

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Kimi on current F1, racing at Spa + F1 kid Max Verstappen

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The Spa circuit is famous for its high speed challenge and, at his usual Thursday meeting with the media in the Belgian paddock, Kimi Raikkonen was asked if he regretted the fact the current cars are a bit slower than in the past. “In a way yes, if you think of F1, you’d think we would have everything possible in the car to make them go faster, as it was in the past,” began the Scuderia Ferrari driver. “But obviously, now the rules have changed aimed at making the cars slower, while improving the show. I think the cars looked nicer in the past and were much more challenging to drive and it was more fun in some ways. On the other side, maybe we have more overtaking now, but sometimes I think it would be nice to go back and race with the cars from the past.”

When Kimi made his F1 debut there were concerns voiced about his lack of experience, so he is ideally placed to comment on the story of the day, next year’s arrival of the currently 16 year old Max Verstappen at Toro Rosso. “I did one full year, 23 races in a car before coming to F1,” recalled the Finn. “He has probably done more. I did well; time will tell how he will do. The sport is more straightforward now than in the past, the points are given out to more finishers. So I don’t think he will have problems and I hope he does well.”

Kimi’s last win at Spa came at the wheel of a Ferrari in 2009, which at the time he described as “a miracle.” He was asked what a victory would represent on Sunday. “It would be a similar story!” he said. “That year, we were one of the few teams running KERS and that was a good help for us here. Hopefully we can have a good weekend overall and a good race, so that we start improving. But here and Monza are probably not the easiest places for us as we are missing some straightline speed, which is very important at this circuit and the next one. I think that the final part of the season can only be better for us, especially as I’ve had a much better feeling from the car at the last two races.”

[ Source: ferrari.com ]

Kimi Raikkonen does not think the summer break will have changed the fact he felt better in the Ferrari F14 T than he has done all season in Hungary.

Raikkonen’s struggles since his return to Ferrari have been well-documented, especially as he has been out-performed by Fernando Alonso at every race this season. At the beginning of the year Raikkonen was struggling to find the right setting for his car but he thinks the signs from the last few races suggest he is ready to turn a corner.

“I think overall the second half can only get better,” Raikkonen said. “If it gets worse, obviously it’s pretty bad. These two circuits [Spa and Monza] on paper are not the strongest for us but there’s been a better feeling in the car overall in the last few races. I don’t think that’s suddenly disappeared somewhere, we’ve had some new things, small things, which have improved.

“There’s a much better feeling now than there was in the first races of the year because I knew those issues and couldn’t do anything about it at that moment. We are making the right steps and hopefully it’s going to be a bit easier in the second half.”

When asked whether he can pull off another miracle result in Belgium as he did in 2009, when he won his first race of a frustrating season, Raikkonen said he is not too optimistic. “I think it is a similar story but that year we were one of the only ones to run with the KERS and in this kind of place it was a good help for us. Now it’s a bit different, though it’s a difficult year again. Hopefully we can have a good weekend weekend overall and start improving things.

“I expect here and Monza will not be the easiest places for us with the speed we are missing on a straight line, a very important part of those circuits. We will do our best and see where we end up.”

[ Sourceespn.co.uk ]

Thursday in Hungary

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Kimi Raikkonen had his usual meeting with the media this afternoon, in the hot conditions that are likely to typify this Hungarian weekend. As to how the Scuderia Ferrari man expects to perform at the Hungaroring, it’s the usual Thursday guessing game. “Hopefully, we’ll get that good feeling and get the car where we want and just have a clean weekend without any issues in any practices and can try things where we want,” he began. “Even though it’s twisty and people say you can’t overtake here, we’ve seen in the past that it can change a lot in the race after qualifying so we’ll see how it goes.”

On the much discussed topic that the Finn has found it hard to get a good feeling form his F14 T, the Ferrari man felt progress was being made. “There’s sometimes a good feeling and unfortunately it doesn’t last long, but last weekend was a better feeling again, we changed something in the car so hopefully that will put us in the right direction and we can get to where we should be.”

Kimi has spent a lot of time in Maranello and what he saw in the factory has put him in a positive frame of mind when it comes to next year. “I have 100% belief in the people in the factory and I know that we have the tools and the people to do the job we’re supposed to do. I’m sure we can be where we should be, hopefully already next year. With Marco (Mattiacci,) he didn’t have much knowledge of F1 when he came in but he has a smart head. I think he’s doing good work, making good decisions, but it takes time to get involved and get people’s trust but I think he’s the guy we need.”

[ Source: ferrari.com ]

Raikkonen: issues not down to regulations

“I don’t think it’s the regulations,” Raikkonen said. “In my view I don’t think it is that much different to the way you drive than last year’s car. Obviously it’s a different team, different car design and certain things are slightly different to how it was in the past. The biggest difference is that it’s not to my liking, and unfortunately these are not easy things to change.

“I’m sure we can turn it around and sometimes there is a good feeling but it doesn’t last long. Last weekend was a better feeling again and we changed something and got something new in the car so hopefully that will start putting us in the right direction and we will get to where we should be.”

“Overall it was a bit better and a lot more to my liking over the weekend. But I did qualifying and we were a bit out of position compared to where I think we should have been. Then you end up between the cars fighting and we got damaged twice on the front wing and I think that compromised our race a lot.

“Probably we should have done different things on the tactics, but that’s how it went. There were some good times and hopefully that’s happening more and we can keep it all the time.”

And Raikkonen believes Hungary could be a better circuit for Ferrari than recent tracks.

“It’s a different circuit more close to Monaco than the other place. We were having quite a good race there but obviously we have to see if we get that good feeling and get the car where we want and have that good feeling without any issues in practice to try things however we want.

“We will have to see tomorrow, but usually it is a good race and even this twisty track where people say you can’t overtake, we have seen in the past that it can change a lot in the race after qualifying. We’ll see how it goes.”


 

Alonso: Raikkonen having same difficulties as me

While Alonso has scored points at every single race, Raikkonen has struggled, recording a best finish of seventh. Nevertheless, the Spaniard is unconcerned about his teammate.

“I don’t really have an opinion on that,” he said when asked about Raikkonen’s struggles. “Obviously, the car is not great, we lack some downforce, some traction. We had some difficulties under braking in the first half of the races, brake-by-wire and all the systems that are new this year. Probably he was not feeling confident with the car, or he was not totally happy with the balance.

“At the moment, we are not super happy with the performance, either him or me, and we try to keep improving and score more points, especially with the constructors’ championship. We’re going backwards a little bit and we need to put both cars in the points as many times as possible.”

Alonso confirmed that he is constantly sharing feedback and information with Raikkonen, despite the Finn having a reputation for a less co-operative approach from his time at Lotus.

“Definitely we work a lot together,” Alonso confirmed. “The meetings are quite long this year, because we have quite a lot of things to sort out after the races, and we’ve been constantly making our suggestions and our comments on what we see on the track, and try to help the engineers to transfer that to Maranello and translate those comments into ideas to help the car.

“It’s not a big change from the work that I have done with Felipe [Massa]; it’s a working relationship trying to help the team all the time.”


KIMI’S COLUMN – GERMAN GP PREVIEW

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Resting and recouping

There has been some talk about my accident in Silverstone. Well, obviously it was one of the worst crashes I have ever had in Formula One.

Going so straight to the barrier from high speed there is no time to do too much. The cockpit is built very tight, there is no room to move your legs. And yes, it did hurt. I got bruises everywhere, and I had to rest some time and recoup my strengths.

Now everything is OK and I am looking forward to jump back to car and start working again to get things going better and better to the direction where we all want to the car to be.

As I have always said, there are certain risks in this business. You cannot make any motorsport 100% safe. Sometimes it just happens. But now it is in the past and I am just looking ahead for the new challenges to beat.

My history with German Grands Prix is nothing to remember. I have always liked both Hockenheim and Nurburgring, but from one reason or another we have never got the weekend perfectly right.

Actually my last visits to Germany have not been too bad. We got a podium both times. So at least, I can say, it has been going in better direction.

[ Source: kimiraikkonen.com ]