| Source: lotusf1team.com |
A relatively low-key day for the Iceman in Monte Carlo, just the way he likes it. Good laps on the board, and a clear path for improvement gives Kimi plenty of confidence for qualifying.
Q: How was your first day on track in Monaco?
KR: I was much happier at the end of today than this morning. We were working on getting the steering right in the first session and it wasn’t great at the beginning, then we changed a few things on the car and it felt far better. We’ve still got a few other areas to improve, but it was feeling stronger with every run. To get pole we have to make the car a bit faster overall and I have to drive a bit better, then we’ll have to see what happens.
Q: How does the car feel with the different tyres and configurations?
KR: With the high fuel it didn’t feel too bad but for sure we can improve, and the same with low fuel too. It didn’t feel like a massive difference between the tyres to me, so maybe we didn’t get either one working as well as we should. It’s something we’ll be looking at before qualifying and the race. The main thing is the car feels pretty good and we’ve got a few ideas about how to make it better. I think if we get everything right we can still do something good.
Q: How well can we fare in qualifying and what can be done in the race?
KR: We haven’t had enough time to look at all the data yet to work out strategy possibilities for the race, but if you want to win here you probably need to qualify very near the front so we’ll see where we end up on Saturday.
| Source: sport360.com |
Much has been made of the few words Kimi Raikkonen, the quiet man of Formula One, does in fact say.
He’s admittedly a man prone to short sentences and, when he does speak out, it is often blunt and to the point. Take last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for example where his in-car musings became the stuff of Formula One folklore.
As the team tried to communicate with him over the race radio, he simply responded “just leave me alone, I know what I’m doing”. More instructions following to which he replied, “Yes, yes, yes. You don’t have to remind me every second”.
Other drivers at other teams would most likely not get away with it. If Lewis Hamilton were to do it at Mercedes or Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull then there would be a certain amount of furor.
But then Kimi is, well, Kimi and he has always chosen not to conform to the expectations of a modern-day F1 driver where endless media appearances are the norm. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a more closely-guarded sports star.
Sometimes, it’s what he doesn’t say rather than what he does that is so compelling. He rarely if ever talks about other drivers, he won’t be caught in the sort of media slanging match enjoyed by some of his grid rivals. And don’t expect that to change any time soon. He hits back at suggestions he does not play the game.
“I’m doing an interview right now aren’t I?” he says, ahead of this Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix, before adding. “I know I have to do this stuff for sponsors but I won’t do anymore than I have to.”
There is a definite shyness to Raikkonen. He would rather not talk shop or divulge issues about his private life. He hates it and the craving for every tit bit of information is a big reason why he walked away from the sport altogether in 2009.
But Raikkonen the racer was not satisfied. The 2007 world champion wanted to return and last season Lotus took an almighty gamble in signing him. In 2009 at Ferrari, he had looked sluggish, appeared to have fallen out of love with racing.
What Lotus was doing was akin to putting everything in the casino on red, a decision that paid off in some style. Last season, he was the model of consistency, finishing every race and winning one of them, the aforementioned Abu Dhabi GP.
What highlighted his impressive pace even more were the struggles of fellow returnee Michael Schumacher, who never quite delivered following his own sabbatical.
From the moment winter testing began, did he ever have doubts in his own abilities? The short answer is not particularly.
“Ok, there is a bit of worry, of unknown as you’ve not done it for a while,” he admits. “But I’d done Formula One for much of my life and the same people were there and not much had changed. It maybe took a few laps to get up to speed.
“The bigger worry was about the car. The thing is that in winter testing you know very quickly if the car is going to be s***. And if it’s s*** you know you’ll be wasting your time for the season.”
Thankfully for Raikkonen, his Lotus last season and again this looks competitive. He won the season opener in Australia and now lies second in the championship just four points behind Sebastian Vettel.
He knows the team need to improve and don’t have the luxury of throwing as much money at their upgrades as the likes of Red Bull or Ferrari.
He adds: “We need to be faster, we need more downforce. It’s that simple. But we have a budget and we have to work within that.”
An uncertain future
The team’s cause has undoubtedly not been helped by technical director James Allison’s departure. He is currently on gardening leave before an anticipated move across the grid to Ferrari.
Mention of Allison’s exit merely leads to a shrug of the shoulders but it may be a key fact in his decision-making over his future. His current deal runs out at the end of the season and no talks have begun about renewing it.
“I’ve no contract for next year,” he says. “There’s talk about this and that but, in the end, I have to make a decision.”
The decision seems to be either to stick with Lotus or move to Red Bull, where he has been touted as Mark Webber’s replacement.
Team owner Dietrich Mateschitz has made no secret of his admiration for Raikkonen but the Finn himself insists: “I haven’t even talked to people about it. There may be some options I don’t know.”
That decision may rest on how much Lotus can push their in-season development. If they fall back, Raikkonen may feel he has no option but to look enviously at the Red Bulls in front of him. As rapid as his return to the sport has been, his exit could be similarly swift.
“F1 is not my life, I just love racing,” he says. “And I could stop tomorrow… if I lose that love. I just don’t have a plan for the future. I have a World Championship, which was my goal from a young age as a driver. If I retire tomorrow, I’m happy. I’ll just go off and do normal things and escape all the bulls***.”
In his remaining time in F1, he has no plans to change his approach to work and life. Lotus talk of a humorous employee – after all post-Abu Dhabi he handed T-shirts out with the slogan “Leave me alone I know what I’m doing” to the entire Enstone team. But he again shrugs his shoulders at the idea that he should change.
“People have their opinions of me and that’s fine,” he says. “This is my work and I’m sure most people are different at work and at home. I’ve a life outside F1 that’s just different.”
The world according to Kimi Raikkonen certainly seems in contrast to the rest of his peers. If he never had to do another interview, he would be a happy man. But he does them – admittedly begrudgingly – as that’s the price he has to pay to pursue his first love.
KIMI’S BEST FIVE DRIVES
1. Brazilian GP – 2007
The most important of his career. He lined up on the grid seven points behind Lewis Hamilton in the championship but took the win and his solitary world title.
2. Japanese GP – 2005
Engine trouble had left him languishing 17th on the grid but he worked his way up the field and pulled off a bold move on the last lap to overtake Giancarlo Fisichella and win.
3. Monaco GP – 2005
Leading after a safety car period, the frontrunners pitted but not Raikkonen after an email from McLaren HQ advised otherwise. He built up a big enough lead to pit safely later in the race to win.
4. Australian GP – 2007
Became the first driver to win on debut for Ferrari since Nigel Mansell 18 years earlier. Later admitted he should have won by more but didn’t because he got bored.
5. Abu Dhabi GP – 2012
His first victory since his return to the sport after a two-year sabbatical. He profited from Lewis Hamilton’s retirement but it highlighted an already impressive F1 comeback.
| Source: ts.fi | by Heikki Kulta |
Before the Spanish Grand Prix, Finnish journalist Heikki Kulta allowed readers to submits questions they wanted to ask Kimi Raikkonen. Well, here are those eagerly awaited answers for the fans. Thanks Heikki and Kimi!
Ye from China asked:
Do you see F1 more as “work” or ’’enjoyment”?
KR: If I would not enjoy it, I would be somewhere else. But, obviously, there is pretty much of work, as well. Any way, it has always been like this. It’s fifty-fifty and as long as it feels fun, I like to do it.
Ingrid K asked:
Is it likely that you will be able to do fewer pitstops than Vettel/Alonso as season goes on?
KR: It depends on the race. Obviously, everybody learns more and more of the tyres. But if there is a race, while we have certain compounds in a certain track, we could do it. But beforehand it’s impossible to say.
It seems that the E21 is very sensitive to setup – especially in qualifying?
KR: I would say, that E21 does not differ from my previous cars. More or less they have all been like this. It’s not that different, you need a perfect balance to go fast. Some cars react to setup very precisly, but with some it’s tricky to get it right to go fast.
Sakae, a Sebastian Vettel -fan from Japan, asked:
Has contract with RBR been offered to you, and are you accepting it?
KR: No, I haven’t been offered a contract from Red Bull.
When was the last time you felt being under pressure in the race?
KR: Of course, there is always some pressure. But it’s myself, who puts that pressure on me. That is not anything special. While there is a race, I know the tyres wear heavily and, the end of the stint, it will he rough, I feel a little bit distressed, but it’s not that hard pressure.
What do you think of James Allison’s departure from Lotus?
KR: For sure, I would rather keep all the people with us instead of letting them go, but this is F1. You never know, what happens tomorrow. They still have good people at Enstone. It’s impossible to say, if there will be any affect with his departure next week, next year or will there be any affect at all.
How about, are yo moving to Ferrari next year, to race next to Fernando?
KR: In theory I would not mind that, but obviously, I never decide with whom I race in any team.
In which ways do you feel your driving or approach to F1 has changed over the years based on your experience? Do you feel wiser now?
KR: I think the experience helps me in certain areas of racing. For example you know some ideas how to setup the car in a certain circuit with some basic details and which things you have to look more precis.
You’ve had plenty of cool helmet designs over the years. Which design has been your favourite so far, purely from an aesthetics point of view and excluding any emotional ties to achievements gained with the design?
KR: There is not a certain design, I would call my number one favourite. They have been some what different, some have been very nice, but for me none of them is better than than the rest. Hopefully you like the next one.
Peter asked again:
What sort of things do you try to achieve during a safety car restart and can you tell a little about the strategies you choose and why, ie. keeping the drivers behind bunched up, staying right behind the guy in front or creating a buffer behind you etc?
KR: I focus on getting the tyres and the breaks working properly straight after the re-start. That’s the main issue. Of course I want to be as close as possible behind the safety car.
And more Peter asked:
The gearboxes have seen some tremendous development during your career, from the double clutch McLaren to the current seamless gearboxes. How much of a difference do you see as a driver from that development when you’re driving?
KR: It was different with the gearboxes in smaller Formulae, but, for me, since 2005 they haven’t change that much. It doesn’t make a difference with the driver, I would say.
Why are you always wearing Oakley sunglasses when you don’t wear helmet? Is it a matter of style only or do you really care about eyesight protection so much?
KR: I have a deal with Oakley, but, for sure, I like to use sunglasses any way. My eyes are quite sensitive.
| Source: lotusf1team.com |
After five races and four podiums, Kimi heads to Monaco a tantalising four points off the Drivers’ Championship lead. As our Iceman explains, the challenge of Monaco is quite different from that of the circuits seen so far this season.
Q: You must be feeling pretty good with your championship position and the performance of the car this season?
KR: Well, we’re not in first place so we can’t be too happy. For sure it’s not a nightmare, but we’ve still got a lot of races yet to come and anything can happen in Formula 1. Monaco is a different challenge, so we’ll have to see what happens there this year.
Q: Last year’s Monaco Grand Prix was not one of the team’s better outings, so you’ll be hoping for better this year?
KR: We certainly won’t make the mistakes we made last time. There were a few things we didn’t do right over the weekend and we suffered because of that. Sometimes that’s the way it goes, but the important thing is not to make the same mistakes again.
Q: How do you define the Monaco Grand Prix?
KR: It’s useless to put races in different categories, because all of them are as important as each other if you want to win a Championship. However, as a real special race there is nothing like Monaco; there is no better feeling than to get things going well there. To race in the streets of Monte Carlo is really different from everywhere else and it’s a challenge I look forward to every year. It is very, very difficult – almost impossible in fact – to have a clean weekend down there.
Q: You won in Monaco in 2005; how did that feel?
KR: I’ve only managed to get it right once before and you really experience the greatest feeling you can get by winning it. My win in 2005 ranks up there with my most memorable, so to win it again would be just as special.
Q: What’s the challenge behind the wheel?
KR: It’s such a narrow, twisty track; you have to be extra sharp and focused through every single metre. It gives such a good feeling; a fast lap around Monaco. Overtaking is almost impossible, so to really enjoy racing there you have to be in the front.
Q: What about the atmosphere?
KR: It’s an interesting place to go to, with a lot of fans and a lot of parties going on; or so I’m told
Q: What’s your approach to the weekend?
KR: We have to focus on qualifying. It’s a difficult place to race as it’s so narrow and – as I said before – passing is nearly impossible. I was stuck behind Rubens [Barrichello] in 2009 and we had KERS then, but you just couldn’t get past. We’ll have to see how the tyres perform and if there are any good strategies to be made, but the most important thing is to qualify well. It’s difficult to know how good the car will be in Monaco as you can’t simulate its characteristics; certainly not at any of the circuits we’ve visited so far this year anyway. We can say the E21’s been fast everywhere else so let’s hope it’s also fast there.
Q: With qualifying so important, is it a worry that this doesn’t seem to be one of the E21’s strongest areas?
KR: We’ll do the best we can, but of course everyone will be trying to be on the front row. It’s not impossible for us, but we won’t know how good we are until we get there. We know that tyre changes have to be made so there are opportunities if you run a different strategy to your rivals, but it’s certainly more difficult here than anywhere else.
Lotus is heading to the Monaco Grand Prix confident it has made the steps it needed to with its qualifying pace.
The narrow confines of the Monte Carlo street circuit always puts a premium on grid position, with Lotus an outfit that has sometimes struggled to extract single-lap performance from its car.
After a difficult Monaco last year, Lotus’ trackside operations director Alan Permane thinks the situation should be better this time around, although admits the outfit is not taking anything for granted.
“It’s no secret that this is an area we’ve been looking to improve and we haven’t done a bad job in this regard,” said Permane.
“We took a front row slot in China and – disregarding Mercedes – we were less than a tenth from the front runner in Spain.
“I wouldn’t go as far as to say our qualifying pace is perfect as it’s clear there are still gains to be made, but we’ve certainly made significant inroads into understanding how to get the most out of the tyres over a single lap, in addition to balancing setup for both qualifying and race pace.”
Lotus will be using a high-downforce specification rear wing, as well as an updated front wing and floor modifications in Monaco.
Permane added: “We’re confident in the upgrade package for this race and the car has worked well at every circuit so far this season, so there’s no reason it won’t be strong here.”
| Source: fia.com |
PODIUM INTERVIEWS (Conducted by Eddie Jordan)
Q: Kimi, four points off the championship lead at this stage and you’re coming in under the radar so to speak, because nobody is really giving you enough credit for what you’re doing at the moment. How do you respond to that?
Kimi RAIKKONEN: I don’t mind. I’m here only to do as good races as we can and always you want to win and it’s disappointing to finish second but sometimes we have to take what we can get. Like I said, I don’t mind if people don’t notice us. We do our work, be happy what we do and obviously try to achieve in Enstone.
Q: Is the lack of attention possibly helping you?
KR: It makes no difference really to me. We know in the team, and all the sponsors, what we try to achieve and what we are doing and that’s the main thing.
Q: Kimi, we heard you say on the podium there you were disappointed you didn’t win. You had a different strategy to Fernando, doing one stop less than the Ferrari today. Was there a point at which you thought you might have an opportunity to challenge Fernando for the win today?
KR: Maybe half way through. Obviously, we were leading but when we were on old tyres and he had newer tyres, it’s too easy to overtake. There’s no point to really fight against [him] because you cannot hold him behind. I knew if I could somehow stay a bit more closer, even with old tyres, maybe I have some chance, even if I’m already behind and will be with old tyres in the end but you never know. But they were just too fast. He had a good start around the outside of me. I don’t think the end result really was decided there but we just did a different way of doing the race. It wasn’t a winning way today but… We’re never happy if we’re not winning. We’re only here to try to win. But we kind of caught up with Vettel few points and obviously Fernando caught me up [by] some points but we’re still in the hunt and we’ll keep ourselves there and hopefully in the future just try to win a bit more.
Q: Consistency is the key though, isn’t it? It’s the fourth time in five races you’ve stood on the podium, including that win in Australia and as you say you’ve got it down to just five points to Vettel. How do you feel about your championship situation and what comes from here?
KR: Obviously it’s better than before the race now. It will not be easy. We cannot fight against… it’s the same for everybody. Everybody wants to win it, but sometimes you have a bad day. You try to minimise those and make the most out of them and give yourself a chance to be up there and fight for wins. I think if you can do that often it will give a good chance in the end to fight for the championship. It’s only a five race-old season, so there’s an awful lot to be raced. We’ll see what happens. We’ll try to do well and see where we are in the end.
Q: [Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, historically this has always been a track where it was pretty difficult to overtake but today we have seen that there were many manoeuvres. You made history because nobody every won starting fifth, so how do you feel about it? And also, to all of you, don’t you think it’s too much with these tyres having too many pitstops and there is too much confusion?
FA: I don’t know. I’m happy to win from whatever position to start. Here, I think this historically has been difficult to overtake and starting off the front row was hard for the race but now with this year’s degradation and this year’s tyres we see the races keep changing all the time. Whatever car keeps the tyre alive normally is on the podium at least – or winning the race. So, happy for this. If it’s too much confusion for the spectators? There is no doubt. I think it is impossible to follow one race now. Here it’s good because you have the tower and I think you follow the race on the tower with the numbers and you see who is first, who is second. But in some other circuits, if I’m sitting in the grandstand, without any information: radio, telephone or something, you only see cars passing.
Kimi, your thoughts on that?
KR: I don’t really think it’s any different to last year. Obviously I wasn’t there the year before but they had a lot of pitstops also. So that’s the way it is and it’s the same for everybody. For sure sometimes it’s a bit tricky, even for us, who is where and what is going on if you haven’t seen it as the guy in front, what’s going on. But that’s what Formula One is today. It might change, it might not.
Q: (Pierre Van Vliet – F1i.com) Kimi, in the early part of the race when you had your first pitstop, you came back with new soft tyres and you spent… you lost a few laps behind Vettel. Without that time lost do you think you could have been in front of Fernando on the last stint?
KR: It wasn’t a new, it was used from qualifying. So, I mean obviously I have to overtake and I took maybe a few laps more than I expected but I got past him and I really could pull away but in the end I really don’t think those were the decisions that were the deciding story of the race. I think we had the speed but we should have done it different. Maybe more pitstops, then you can push all the time – but I think this was our best way of doing the race. That’s what we planned and that’s what we did and I think we deserved to be second and not really winning today. It’s OK for the team, the guys did a good job and we go for the next race to try to do better and get the best out of it.
Q: (Leonid Novozhilov – F1Life) Kimi, what do you think about the pit stop strategy in Monaco?
KR: I have no idea. I know what we did here and yesterday. There’s a few weeks to go. We will see what happens, what tyres they bring and how everything plans out. I think it’s usually quite straightforward there. Usually, if you’re not in the front, you start behind somebody else and it’s really difficult to overtake. We will see.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, you have three successive second places and now you’ve managed to catch up Sebastian by six points; was this the most rewarding of these three races, and how do you see your chances to do better in Monaco?
KR: First of all, Monaco is a different place compared to this, so it’s a bit hard to say. Last year I wasn’t very good there. For sure, it should be a bit better but I’ve had some good races there – it’s a dangerous thing to say – but as Fernando said, I think Mercedes will unfortunately be pretty quick there and after that it’s difficult to overtake. The only difference that they have made against most of us is in the last sector where it’s tight so you can really expect, from what they did last year and what they did here, that they should be pretty fast there. We will see what happens there, but gaining the points on Sebastian was nice. If he would have lost more points and still be second it would have been even more annoying, but OK, you also want to win but we cannot still put ourselves in a better position for the championship so at least something good came out of it.
Q: (Jussi Jakala – YLE) Kimi, all top drivers are kind of supermen; did you have time to enjoy the battle that you had with Sebastian?
KR: Yeah, it didn’t last very long. It took a few laps. I maybe had a chance earlier but I didn’t think that I would take him at the end of the straight but actually they were very fast at the start of the straight so I couldn’t catch him there, so it took a bit longer than I expected but then it was quite nice, fair but quite tough fight, but it worked out OK.
| Source: lotusf1team.com |
After a hat-trick of second place finishes, Kimi moves to within four points of Sebastian Vettel at the head of the Drivers’ Championship; he’s not getting carried away just yet though…
Q: P2 for the third consecutive race; how are you feeling?
KR: Unfortunately it’s second place again so it’s not time to celebrate too much. The car felt good and we did pretty much all we could today, but we didn’t have the pace to challenge Fernando [Alonso]. I drove to the maximum and it’s good for the championship that Sebastian finished behind us. It’s nice to be on the podium for me and the team; let’s see what we can do in Monaco.
Q: You achieved your result with a three stop strategy today when many rivals opted for four; talk us through that decision?
KR: That’s the strategy we chose and it worked pretty well for us. Fernando did make four stops, but we didn’t think we could beat him whatever the strategy today as he has looked pretty quick all weekend.
Q: Did you enjoy your battle with Sebastian Vettel?
KR: Yes, but it didn’t last very long; just a few laps. I maybe had a chance to pass a bit earlier but I didn’t think I could take him at the end of the straight; they [Red Bull] were very fast coming on to the straight so I couldn’t catch him there. It took a bit longer than I expected but then it was a good battle – fair, but quite tough – and it worked out okay for us in the end.
Q: Some say your championship challenge is somewhat under the radar; is that a good thing?
KR: I don’t mind if people don’t notice us. We do our work, we’re happy in what we do and we obviously try to achieve the best for Enstone. I’m just here to race the best I can. You always want to win and it’s disappointing to finish second, but sometimes we have to take what we can get.
| Source: lotusf1team.com |
Fourth fastest after the opening day’s action, Kimi gives us his view on a closely packed field here at the Circuit de Catalunya…
Q: How was your Friday in Barcelona?
KR: It was a pretty normal Friday. We tried some new things on the car, ran with some different tyres and we’ll have a look at all the data to see where we think we are. We finished the day not too far off the fastest time, so we can say that the day wasn’t a disaster, but for sure there are some things we have to improve with the car which is normal after the first day’s running.
Q: Times are pretty tight at the front of the pack today; should that make qualifying interesting tomorrow?
KR: I guess it’s going to be very close in qualifying too. We aren’t always especially fast in qualifying so we’ll have to see what we can do. We have to get everything right to fight for a good position and then we’ll see where we end up.
Q: How did you find the revised hard compound tyre?
KR: It’s okay.
Q: Does the car feel any different with the latest upgrades?
KR: It’s difficult to compare. We were here last time in the winter and the car has changed quite a lot since then. It feels okay on track; we’re looking at the data to see if the new parts are doing what they should, which is the normal way we do these things.
Q: Does the change of tyres to a harder allocation for this race make any difference to you?
KR: It makes no difference to me; they’re the same for everyone and we all try to get the most performance from them.
| Source: lotusf1team.com |
After taking his third podium finish of the year in Bahrain, our Iceman looks forward to racing closer to home with the start of the European season.
Q: Yourself and the team currently occupy P2 in both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships; are you pleased with how things are going?
KR: For sure it’s an okay start and we’re in a better position that this time last year, but there’s a long season ahead and it’s too early to say if we can fight for the Championships right to the end. It’s going to be hard to catch Sebastian [Vettel] if he keeps taking good results so we need to start taking more points from him, but you never know what can happen. We’ll keep pushing to improve the car and see where we end up.
Q: What’s required to bridge that gap to P1?
KR: Some more wins! To catch the leaders, we have to work twice as hard as they are. It’s no secret that we want more speed from the car in qualifying; it’s so tight up there at the front and we really need to be on the first two rows to fight for victories every time. It’s good to be able to start the European season where we are as this is when you see teams starting to push on with lots of new parts for the cars. It’s still early days, but to have scored strong points since the start of the year is obviously better than not having them. We need to keep scoring points in the same way; even if it’s a bad weekend for us, we need to keep finishing as well as we can. That’s how we will fight to the end of the season.
Q: How is the Circuit of Catalunya for you?
KR: I have won twice in Barcelona and I was on the podium there last year too, so I really look forward to going there again; hopefully to end the weekend with another good result. It’s a circuit where you have to get everything exactly right to be at the top. All the teams have tested many times at this circuit, so to get an advantage there is not very easy. The set-up is crucial as the track changes with the wind and temperature so there’s plenty of work for the engineers too.
Q: Is it good to be racing in Europe again?
KR: I really like racing in Europe. We don’t have to travel that far so all your energy is saved for the weekend itself. Traditionally the real season starts when coming back to Europe. For me, it’s great.
Q: The Circuit de Catalunya is the only circuit at which you’ve tested the E21 so far; does that help matters?
KR: That’s true, but you have to remember that was at the end of February and the beginning of March so conditions were very different compared to what we hope to see in May. It was very difficult to get the tyres working properly when we were last there, but it was the same for everybody. We all start from zero again in FP1.
Q: The team didn’t get so much mileage at Barcelona during testing, but reliability doesn’t seem to be so much of a concern now the season is underway?
KR: I didn’t have that many laps there in testing as there were problems with the car and I also missed a day as I was unwell. That said, me and the team know the track pretty well so I don’t think we’ll be too surprised about which way the track goes or what setup to use on the car. Even though I didn’t get a lot of mileage in pre-season, the main thing was I felt good in the car the whole time. Our car seems to be good at every circuit so far…
Q: You were quite reserved after the podium finish in Bahrain; were you happy with the result?
KR: You’re never really happy if you don’t win, but I suppose second place is as close as you can get. We could maybe have been a few places higher in in qualifying which would have made things easier, but I drove to the maximum and luckily we found the pace in the car that was missing in qualifying. Let’s hope I’m happier in Spain.
You could be forgiven for thinking that Kimi Raikkonen’s talk about needing to stop Sebastian Vettel’s charge already may sound a bit defeatist for a man just 10 points adrift of the top of the standings.
But a quick look back at the title standings last year shows that Raikkonen has good reason to understand the need to not let his German rival edge clear.
After the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix, Raikkonen was just 11 points behind Vettel in the standings, a gap that he never really got back under control again.
With an intense development race on the horizon, and little separating the frontrunners in pace terms, every point from now on is going to count.
And while there is only a seven points difference between winning and second, in championship terms a victory or defeat can turn into a ’14 pointer’ if they are against your main rival – and titles are often won by much less than that.
The man of few words talks. The reason why he is taking Vettel in his private jet, why he doesn’t extend his contract with Lotus at the moment and why a second world championship title wouldn’t make him happier…
Q: Mr. Räikkönen, the drummer of Guns Roses told us, that you had been drinking together. Is there a little rocker inside of you?
KR: ”In general, I like music, but not such music. The guys of guns ‘n’ roses are just cool. I don’t care if they’re famous musicians or not. I just like being together with such guys.”
Q: You were flying home from China together with Sebastian Vettel. From Munich on, in your private jet. Would you do so for every driver colleague?
KR: ”No, but not everyone lives near Zurich.”
Q: It says, Vettel has no more friends in the paddock. Is that true?
KR : ”It is basically difficult to have friends inside the Formula One, but we two are. We aren’t seeing each other as often as before because Seb moved a bit wider away, but I still would call him my friend in Formula One. I know him best of all.”
Q: He (Seb) is still being critized for ignoring team-orders in Malaysia. How would you have acted if the team told you to stay behind your slower teammate?
KR: ”Always you journalists with your would-if-questions! Team-orders are a part of Formula One. Sometimes you stick to it, sometimes it doesn’t make sense. Team-orders can be that your engineer tells you to do this or that, but you wanted to do it the other way round. Then I won’t listen to my engineer and do what I want.”
Q: Just like Vettel. Afterwards he told honestly what he’s thinking about his teammate. How did you like that?
KR: ”Seb has his opinion and he told it. He is honest and open. That’s a good thing, I like that.”
Q: How did Seb change because of his three titles?
KR: ”He didn’t change. Sure thing: He’s getting older and gets to know more about the sport. But apart from that, his personality didn’t change at all. He’s still a normal, funny and nice guy.”
Q: Now you two are fighting each other for race victories and the championship. Will you remain friends?
KR: ”Yes. We trust each other, that neither of us will do something stupid in a in fight. We’re honest and open. If it comes to a crash between us, we probably will be complaining about each other (laughs). But that should be it then. Everyone has an argument sometimes, it’s just normal.”
Q: In Bahrain, he beat you. Are you still winning against Seb in Badminton?
KR: ”We haven’t played for a long time. But the last time we did, approximately three years ago, Seb lost, that’s right.”
Q: Lotus team owner Gerard Lopez is assuming that you are staying with Lotus.
KR: ”It can be that he wants me to stay. In fact, I haven’t got a contract for next season yet. But things in Formula one can turn around fast. Honestly: I just don’t know what I will be doing next year yet. Ask me again in six months.”
Q: You told the Bild newspaper that you want to return to a top team. At RedBull Racing, Mark Webber’s spot will likely be available. And Dietrich Mateschitz wants you.
KR: ”I don’t know what you want from me! Here at Lotus, we are winning races. That’s enough. It doesn’t matter that we are spending less money than the other top teams here at Lotus as long as I am winning. But once again: I don’t know what happens next year. For now, I am trying to get the maximum out of the season. Then I will make the right decision for me. I am not wasting my thoughts on the future. And I’m not worried about finding a seat. I can live without Formula One, too.”
Q: Then why are you sitting here with us and doing an interview?
KR: ”Because Formula One is motorsport on the highest level. And according to that, there will always be days like this, when I have to do a lot of boring interviews.”
Q: Currently, you’re 2nd in the championship. Are you able to win the title against Sebastian Vettel?
KR: ”It’s true: At the moment we’re doing pretty well pretty often. But that doesn’t guarantee the championship. The second place in Bahrain was good, but it doesn’t help when Seb keeps winning all of the time. We have to find something else.”
Q: What would a second World Championship title mean to you?
KR: ”A second title would be nice, but it wouldn’t make me happier. The most important thing is to be satisfied with yourself.”
Q: What is so special about your right foot that your tires last longer?
KR: ”It isn’t just my foot. It’s a combination of the driver and the car. My Lotus is gentle with the tyres and that makes it easier for me.”
Q: It seems that you’re happier at Lotus than that Ferrari or Mclaren.
KR: ”No you can’t say that. A team from Italy is complete different to one from England. I had a good time everywhere.”
Q: You aren’t showing that at all. Are you going to laugh in the basement? (German proverb, I don’t know how to translate it properly. It means, that you won’t show your humoristic side to all people)
KR: ”I don’t show the real me in Formula One. Most of the people are behaving differently at work and in private.”
Q: While listening to your team radio, one could get the opinion that you aren’t getting along well with your engineer…..
KR: ”Yes, but you can only listen to a small piece of it. Of course, we have different opinions at some times. It seems that i’m yelling at him all the time, but that comes with the loudness. Inside the car it’s terribly loud.”
Q: You are a big James Hunt Fan. Are you going to watch the new movie about him and Niki Lauda?
KR: ”Yes, I will. In these times, Formula One was just pure racing. Motorsport how it should be. Not so much talking about it. I like that.”
| Source: lotusf1team.com |
Four races, three podiums and some classy drives for the Iceman so far in 2013. As always though, he’s wanting more…
Q: After a difficult day yesterday, are you satisfied with today’s result?
KR: You’re never really happy if you don’t win, but I suppose second place is as close as you can get. We could maybe have been a few places higher in in qualifying which would have made things easier, but I drove to the maximum and luckily we found the pace in the car that was missing yesterday. We didn’t have the speed to challenge Sebastian [Vettel] today, but we did have the pace to get both cars on the podium so I’m happy for the team.
Q: After a tough start, did you believe this result was on the cards?
KR: I got off the line ok but then got a bit caught in the traffic so it wasn’t an easy start for sure. After the first stop I thought we had a good chance to make the podium, but we were on a different strategy to most of the others so it was difficult to tell where we were. In the end it worked out pretty well.
Q: There seemed to be a bit of contention over your first stop…
KR: We stopped pretty early the first time and you don’t want to run a set of tyres too long as you then have to look after them a bit more and they start to get more tricky with every lap. It was a bit of a change from our initial plan but that’s pretty normal and I wasn’t worried; our tyre wear was never a problem and they still felt fine at the end.
Q: Yourself and the team currently occupy P2 in both Championships; are you pleased with how things are going?
KR: For sure it’s an ok start and we’re in a better position that this time last year, but there’s a long season ahead and it’s too early to say if we can fight for the Championship right to the end. It’s going to be hard to catch Sebastian [Vettel] if he keeps taking good results so we need to start taking more points from him, but you never know what can happen. We’ll keep pushing to improve the car and see where we end up.
| Source: autosport.com |
PODIUM INTERVIEWS (Conducted by David Coulthard)
It was a great race. If I could come to our second-placed finisher here: they call him the Iceman but they should really call you Mr Consistency. Another podium. Tell us about your strategy today. On reflection do you think that was the right one? Was second place the best you could hope for?
Kimi RAIKKONEN: Yeah, I think yesterday wasn’t ideal. We planned to… I wanted to already, Friday, try to do a two-stop because it felt OK and today it worked well so we gained a lot of places. I didn’t have a very strong first or second lap, so I lost two places. After that the car started to come to me and I could start pushing more and more, and in the end it was OK.
Q: Speaking of strategy, Kimi, you said you wanted to make a two-stop strategy work. You felt that was the right way forward. But did you need to be five, six places further up on the grid? Was it qualifying that cost you a chance of the win today?
KR: I think it didn’t help but I think overall we would not have had the speed for beating Red Bull in here this weekend. And even if yesterday we could have been a few places better but still we couldn’t have challenged on speed whatever we would have done to the front. So, I mean, I don’t think on the speedwise we could really have challenged for the win. But I would say then second was the best that we could achieve and also third for the team so a good result.
Press Conference - QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, you have been on the podium six times here in Bahrain; which has been the best of these six races?
KR: I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter. Second is obviously better than third place but we haven’t won and that’s what we try to do. Today we got good points, we didn’t lose too many to Sebastian but obviously it doesn’t help to finish second if he’s winning all the time. So we try to find something but all of them have been improved, in a way.
Q: Kimi, how much different is it to seven, maybe eight years ago?
KR: First of all, I don’t think Pirelli could please everybody, whatever they would do. There’s always somebody who will complain, even if they changed and made them happy then I’m sure there will be people who want something different and not happy so I don’t think it’s their job to try to always change things if somebody’s complaining or doesn’t like it. Even in the past, if we would have put the same amount of fuel in the cars, we couldn’t have run at full speed all the time, because the tyres would have gone off so I don’t really think it’s all that different now. We just made more stops and ran less fuel in those days. I would say that’s really the biggest difference. I’m sure the tyres wouldn’t have lasted long in those days.
| Source: lotusf1team.com |
Topping the times on day one here at Bahrain International Circuit, Kimi is pleased with his day’s work, but knows there is still plenty of work to do…
Q: You’ve ended the day top of the times; does that send out a message to the competition?
KR: It’s nice to be fastest but you never know what the others are doing; we just stick to our programme and don’t take too much notice of what else is happening. I actually made a mistake through the final corners on my fastest lap, so there’s still more time to be found.
Q: How are you feeling with the car so far this weekend?
KR: It wasn’t a bad start today; things aren’t exactly where we want them and there’s always improvements you can make, but we’re reasonably fast. It’s tricky to get the setup right here and the wind can make a big difference; it might work for you one way but make things more tricky the other. It’s all in the small details; if you get it right or wrong you might see a second per lap difference either way and things can change very quickly. We tried a few new things and they seem to be working ok so we’ll see how that develops over the weekend.
Q: You’ve had some great results from slightly more modest grid positions; how important is qualifying here?
KR: It’s the same as always; you want to be as close to the front as possible. The fewer cars there are in front of you the less chance you have of getting caught in traffic which helps you stay with the leaders and also save your tyres. Of course it’s possible to get good results from further back, but a strong qualifying and clean start make things a lot easier.
Q: China produced your best qualifying result for the team; can you match that here?
KR: You never know on Friday if you’ll be fast enough to fight for pole and there’s no point comparing one race to another; it’s a different track and different conditions so we just have to take one weekend at a time. Tomorrow is a new day, we still have one more practice session before qualifying and things can change very quickly. We should be ok but you never know. Let’s see what we can do from here.
Video: Sky Sports interview
Q: We have a debate in Formula One, as F1 fans, what’s more important: good car or a good driver. At the moment you’ve got a good car and in Kimi Räikkönen a very good driver – how important is Kimi Räikkönen to the long-term success of the Lotus team?
EB: I think he’s part of the success, or sort of success, that we’ve had since a couple of years, or let’s say at least last year. It’s true that Kimi does help the team stepping up but behind Kimi there are a lot of people – and good people – working hard and actually working well. I think as usual it’s to get the full package really working all together. Then you can see some results.
| Source: lotusf1team.com |
After taking his second podium finish of the year in China our Iceman heads to the desert heat of Bahrain cool, calm and collected…
Q: You must be in good spirits following your podium in Shanghai?
KR: It was a pretty okay weekend, but it wasn’t the win and it’s still early in the season so we’re not celebrating too much yet.
Q: What are your thoughts on the next race in Bahrain?
KR: Obviously, it was a good race for us as a team last year. It was my first podium for Enstone, and we had a good fight all the way. We took a gamble during qualifying, and it didn’t work out well for us. This meant we missed out on the top ten, but we managed to use our tyres pretty well in the race and we ended up fighting for the top step of the podium, which is always a good thing.
Q: You fought for the win with Sebastian Vettel last year; with the benefit of retrospect, was there anything different you could have done to get past him?
KR: I could have tried to overtake him on the other side! I only had one shot and I picked the wrong side. After that I was unable to fight back and second was still a pretty good result, but it’s always better to finish on the top step of the podium.
Q: How do you rate the Sakir circuit?
KR: I like it. I’ve had some nice races there and picked up some good points although I’ve never won. It’s a little bit different from others we visit and it’s quite nice to be out there in the sand! Wherever you look around the track you can just see sand in the distance and you notice it in the paddock too. It’s a circuit where I’ve never won before, so maybe this year I’ll change that.
Q: How difficult is it to get the car as you want it in Bahrain?
KR: It is not easy to find a good set-up as you do experience the track surface changing over the weekend and sometimes the wind can affect the balance of the car too. It’s one of the more tricky places to get the car exactly right, but at least you don’t often have to worry about rain!
Q: Is there potential for another good result?
KR: Apart from Malaysia we’ve had good races this year, but that said there have only been three races so it’s too early to say anything. Just because we had a good result there last year, it doesn’t mean Bahrain will be good for us again this year. We have to try and do the best we can in every race and try to score some points to keep us in the fight. If everything goes our way, it will be a good result again. However, it is useless to promise anything beforehand. This is motor racing and whatever can happen, will happen.
Q: How was it to get second place in China?
KR: Second wasn’t quite what we wanted, but in the circumstances it was the best that we could manage. I wasn’t 100% happy because we didn’t win, but it is what it is and second place was a good result after a bad start and the incident with Sergio [Perez].
Q: Do you think you will start modifying the bodywork of your car in the future?
KR: It’s unfortunate when a slower car gets in your way like that and you never know if it could happen again. Obviously the car is not designed like that otherwise we would use it all the time, but I was surprised how good it was still. Obviously we had some trouble with understeer and some other handling issues, but we had to try to live with that and the pace was still pretty okay.
Q: Tyres seem to be quite a talking point again; what does Kimi Räikkönen think?
KR: I think you can push on these tyres, but it’s never perfect. You cannot always push 100%. I think they are very good in qualifying and have good grip, so it’s up to you and you have to look after them a bit more in the race. It’s not really any different from last year – at least for us anyway – so I don’t really understand why people are complaining.
Boullier: Kimi one of most ‘gifted’ drivers around
| Source: f1zone.net |
Team principal Eric Boullier defended Grosjean’s start to the season, citing comparisons with the ‘gifted’ Kimi Raikkonen.
“Romain faces the very tough challenge of driving the same car as one of the most gifted driver around in Kimi; a driver with tremendous experience who returned to the sport last year and was very good straight away,” he said.
“Kimi’s been excellent from the start of 2013. He gives everything you want from a driver at every moment on track. This will be frustrating for Romain at times as it’s very, very difficult to beat the Kimi who arrives at the track this season, but it’s also a tremendous opportunity as he’s learning from the very best. If he can learn these lessons whilst bringing home points for the team, then he’s doing the job we want from him.”
| Source: f1zone.net |
Rumours are swirling in the Shanghai paddock that the Finn, who is Sebastian Vettel’s closest friend in F1, has been earmarked as the successor to Mark Webber.
“There is so much talk that I’ve agreed a contract for next season,” Raikkonen exclaimed to Germany’s Bild am Sonntag.
“First I’m trying my best at Lotus, then I’ll think about my future.
“It is of course flattering, what Red Bull have said, but why is there all this talk if there is nothing (signed) on paper?” the 2007 world champion added.
The answer, of course, is that given Red Bull’s obvious interest, Raikkonen’s move would make sense.
He would work harmoniously with Vettel, and it would also be a good next move for the 33-year-old, who won 19 grands prix for McLaren and Ferrari before taking a two-year sabbatical in world rallying after the 2009 season.
“About the future, I am clear,” Raikkonen said. “I want to work with a good team and sit in a good car.
“Red Bull is a good team, they have been world champions and won everything in the past years.
“Basically, there are not many top teams to think about. With Lotus, we are not yet where Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull are.”
Speaking against the move, however, are equally-heard rumours in the paddock that Raikkonen is no longer serious about his trade: that he only returned to F1 for the money.
“Do you really think I would be here if it was just about money?” Raikkonen hit back. “I do enough fun things in my spare time than to have to listen to this bullshit.
“And I’m not exactly broke,” he added.
| Source: lotusf1team.com |
Bruised, battered and brilliant; Kimi clinched a hard-earned P2 in today’s Chinese Grand Prix, and is aiming to stay right at the sharp end throughout the season ahead
Q: Another podium after a tough race; are you pleased with the result?
KR: Second wasn’t quite what we wanted, but in the circumstances it was the best that we could manage today. I’m not 100% happy because we didn’t win, but it is what it is and second place is a good result after a bad start and the incident with Sergio [Perez].
Q: What was your view on that incident?
KR: I was moving alongside him and thought there was enough space, but in the end there wasn’t and I got pushed onto the grass. Maybe he didn’t see me and I tried my best to avoid him, but unfortunately I couldn’t so I hit the rear of his car which damaged my front wing. Luckily there was still the kerb there so I found some grip to stay on the track and carry on.
Q: How tricky was the car to handle with the damage?
KR: It was quite difficult out there. Obviously the car is not designed like that otherwise we would use it all the time, but I was surprised how good it was still. Of course there were some handling issues and quite a lot of understeer which was not ideal, but we just had to try to live with it. We could have changed the wing but we would probably have lost more time overall and we still had pretty ok speed even with the damage.
Q: You’re second in the Championship, just three points off the lead; are you pleased with your start to this season?
KR: For sure it’s not a bad start and we’re in a better position than this time last year, but we’ve only had three races so it’s too early to say. We just have to keep doing our best at every race, make sure we still pick up points if sometimes we don’t have such a good weekend and hopefully we can stay in the hunt.
Q: You needed an entourage to make it back through the paddock today; how does it feel to have such fanatical support?
KR: It’s great to see so many fans and there was a lot of noise up on the podium. Hopefully I can keep giving them some good results.
| Source: lotusf1team.com |
After setting the second fastest time in the opening day of action in Shanghai, Kimi’s confident that good things could happen this weekend.
Q: How was the first day out on track?
KR: If you look at the lap time it looks to have been a pretty okay day. For sure, there are things we have to improve and you never know what will happen tomorrow, but it’s a reasonable start to the weekend. We seem to be happy with the soft tyres and maybe not as happy with the harder ones, but we’ve still got time to improve and we’re certainly not struggling so it could be a good weekend.
Q: How does the soft tyre feel better than the medium?
KR: The softer tyre seems to have much more grip and it suited our car better today. For some teams the soft tyre gives a big improvement, for other teams not so much. We will have to see how many laps the soft tyre last for as that will be important in the race. For sure it will be the tyre we use to qualify on.
Q: Is there much more pace to come from the car?
KR: We can definitely improve. We have some pace to come from the car in the usual areas with setup. We’re not far from where we want to be, but if we can find a little more speed with the harder tyres we’ll be happy. My quick lap today could have been better, so there’s some more pace to come even if we don’t improve the car, but hopefully we do…
Selected quotes from Finnish/Chinese media, translations courtesy of Nicole from racingnerds.com:
What do those flags mean to Räikkönen?
“It’s nice – especially since it’s really not so that a Finn carries each flag. It’s better this way than no flags waving at all.”
The Chinese media asked Kimi if the E21-car has championship-potential.
“We will see it at the end of the season. The last race in Malaysia wasn’t ideal in that sense. We won the opening race in Australia and are at least in a better position than last year at this stage,” Kimi said.
“At this very moment it looks like we have all the chances to drive for the title, but I have no idea what will happen during the season.
“We do our best every weekend and hopefully we are fighting for the championship at the end of the season.
In paddock-rumours Räikkönen is placed in Webber’s seat next season. Kimi isn’t interested in the subject at all.
“They always talk and speculate a lot in F1, who is going where and what is happening here and there. It’s completely normal and it’s also cool when your own name is mentioned, but I have no interest to start commenting on rumours, I haven’t done it before either,” Räikkönen said.
Räikkönen has confessed that he is Vettel’s buddy. Can you be friends with a teammate?
“I’m sure that there are friends who are teammates. In the final games nobody are enemies to each other. But can teammates be closest friends – I doubt it.
“Usually relationships are normal. At least I haven’t had any difficulties with any teammate. Then again I can only speak for myself…
Eric Boullier told in Lotus-team’s statement that Räikkönen walks his own path and that he is not going to start looking after Kimi and give him advice. Does an approach like this make Boullier the best possible team manager for Räikkönen?
“Well each team have their own discipline. Each team works in their own way. When we do everything 100 % we don’t get complaints and there hasn’t been any problems,” Räikkönen said.
What does Räikkönen think about team orders?
“There’s nothing new with that compared to earlier. I mean there have been team orders for at least the last 15 years. Sometimes they are ok, sometimes they hurt.”
Kimi Raikkonen says he is open-minded about his plans for the 2014 Formula 1 season, amid new speculation linking him to a Red Bull future.
With renewed focus on Red Bull’s driver line-up following Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber’s team orders furore in Malaysia, Red Bull chief Dietrich Mateschitz was quoted in the German media as saying Raikkonen was “always a candidate” for a seat in his squad.
But Raikkonen said he was still far from entering into any talks over 2014 deals.
“There are always a lot of rumours in F1, that is a normal thing,” he said. “I don’t have a contract for next year and I have no plans.
“You guys make the rumours. The season is only two races old so I’ll try to do this year well and we will see what happens.”
Asked if he expected to still be in F1, Raikkonen replied: “I don’t have a contract so I don’t really have a plan, but of course I probably will be. But you never know. It is a funny place. So far, I have no contract.”
Although Lotus has regularly stated its belief that it provides an ideal atmosphere for the free-spirited Finn, Raikkonen said he never really been uncomfortable in an F1 team.
“Like I’ve always said all the teams have been different, and I have had a pretty good time in all the teams,” he said.
“They all have a different way of being run and I try to achieve the same result.
“I wouldn’t say that this is much better than other places, because I never had any problems [elsewhere] or anything like that. It is just a different place.”
Webber’s future at Red Bull has, of course, been the subject of much speculation since the Malaysian Grand Prix, which was won by Vettel after he ignored an order to stay behind his team-mate.
The subject remains the hot topic of debate in the Shanghai paddock – although Lotus’s hospitality suite appears be the exception to the rule.
“There’s a lot of times that teams will tell you what to do. It’s normal in Formula 1,” added Raikkonen when pressed on the subject.
“It’s not about me or our team, so I’m not interested.”
But when asked if he has already turned his attention to the end of his current contract and 2014, Raikkonen insisted: “I have not. I could even retire,” he told Turun Sanomat newspaper. “I don’t have any contract — nothing — for next year. I am focusing on now.”
Kimi found himself mobbed at Shanghai airport again, but this year he seemed better prepared and even gave a few smiles!
Kimi also did some PR for Lotus:
| Source: lotusf1team.com |
Currently running second in the Drivers’ Championship, Kimi Räikkönen is keen to bolster that points tally, starting at the Shanghai International Circuit…
Q: What are your thoughts on the Shanghai International Circuit?
KR: It’s always difficult to predict what will happen in the next race as we haven’t been there yet with this car, and every car reacts differently to each circuit. Unfortunately we didn’t achieve any points there last year so we can only improve from that. I have been first, second and third in Shanghai in previous years so it would be nice to add to that list. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t go well there; we have some new parts for the E21 and the last upgrades we had seemed to help so it will be interesting to see what will happen if it doesn’t rain.
Q: You’ve gone pretty well in China before; you must have a good feeling going there?
KR: I won there in 2007 and that was a good feeling as it was the year I won the World Championship. I celebrated those wins pretty well at the time. It’s a proper race track and there are good opportunities for overtaking. Our car looks good so far, so let’s see what happens when we get out on track.
Q: Have you been able to reflect much on the first two races of the season?
KR: Australia felt like quite an easy race for me as everything went so well in the car and the result was the one which everyone wants to get. Malaysia was a tough race. The start was not good and then I lost part of my front wing on the first lap. The car didn’t handle too well after that and with the wet conditions it was pretty tricky. The pace wasn’t too bad, but it could have been much better when you look at our times on Friday.
Q: You had some close tussles in Malaysia, particularly with Nico Hulkenberg…
KR: It was racing and that’s what we’re all here for. There were a few times where it got pretty close. There are things you should and shouldn’t do but this is racing and at the end of the day I don’t think it changed our result too much.
Q: The Chinese Grand Prix was full of action in 2012; how was it from your position?
KR: There was some good racing and it looked like a strong result could have been possible, but we ran out of rubber during the final stint and didn’t score any points. Hopefully we’ll be a little bit more lucky with the tyre performance this time and well prepared from a strategy point of view. We had the race pace in 2012, that’s true, but we tried to carry on with our tyres for too long. They dropped off, and that was it. On the other hand without trying to push with those tactics, we would never have been fighting for top positions. If you look at last year we didn’t have a bad car for China, and if we get the car working as well as we did on Friday at Sepang, we should do well in Shanghai too.
| Source: f1-areena.fi |
Sometimes things you really did not expect to happen, happen. This can be said about our attempt to have an interview with Kimi Räikkönen. Before the opening of F1-Areena we sent an email to Lotus asking if Kimi had the time to answer some questions. Surprisingly, a positive response was received almost immediately and thus the questions were sent to our World Champion. Now, just a week later, the answers are here. F1-Areena has actually interviewed Kimi Räikkönen!
Q: What is your opinion of the Pirelli tires this year? Is the more severe degradation a step forwards or backwards?
KR: The tyres don’t feel too different to be honest. The strength of the car last year meant that we were able to manage the tyres quite well and make them last, and you can see in Australia that we did that very well. I think we’ve built on the good basis that we had last year and kept that for our car now.
Q: Lotus seems to lose some of its speed on a wet track. Do you know why it affects you more than Romain and is there something that can be done to make the situation better?
KR: I don’t think you can really say we have lost lots of speed in the wet weather. In the Malaysian Grand Prix I had quite a bit of damage to my car towards the end which meant that my pace was not as good as normal. It’s hard to compare at different circuits and under different conditions. We know what we need to do to progress and we will keep doing it.
Q: How different is your driving style compared to Romain? Are you able to use each others settings?
KR: We hide nothing from each other. The team has debriefs and briefings all together, with both drivers and all the engineers, so if there is something that can help both of us then we share it. Romain drove my car in Barcelona at the test when I was ill, and worked with my engineers, so everything is in the open with the team. Of course we drive differently, no driver is the same, but at the end of the day we both want to do well and get the best results for the team.
Q: How much PR work do you have with Lotus and how does it compare to previous teams?
KR: The work is ok here. For me, I would rather just be driving of course, but I think the team understand very well how I am, and give me the space to be myself. I feel very comfortable here, and that we all work together.
Q: How has the handling of F1 cars changed during your career? Which year’s car was the best to drive?
KR: I found the car quite good to drive after the two year break, and it’s something I found not too difficult as it comes quite naturally. You just need to get in and get on with it. But like I said in Australia this year, the car I’m driving now felt as good as then as when I was driving the McLaren winning car.
Q: What kind of things do you follow about F1 in media or the Internet?
KR: I don’t really follow much news about F1 on the internet or in the papers. I know the results and where everyone is in the championship, so it doesn’t really matter what other people say about me – it’s not really of any interest.
Q: What do you do on your free time, when your not driving or travelling?
KR: I like to spend time with my friends and not think too much about F1 when I’m not racing. I enjoy other sports, like ice hockey, and snowmobile, so I just try to have as much fun as possible.
Q: Are we going to see you driving a WRC car or in some other racing series (Le mans?) sometime in the future?
KR: You can never say never for these things but I don’t know. I don’t really think about the future all too much, so we will have to wait and see what happens. You never know how you will feel later on.
Q: What plans do you have after your career?
KR: Like I said before, it’s not something I really think about. We’ll see what happens when I decide that I don’t want to race anymore, but it’s not something I’m really thinking about at the moment.
Q: What do you reckon could be done better on the coaching level, to allow young Finnish drivers reach F1 easier?
KR: Of course the level of coaching can always be improved, but I think Finland does a great job and there is lots of talent in our country. There have been some very famous Finnish people in F1 and in racing, so I hope that is continues for the future. It’s quite a challenge to reach Formula One now, but if you really are the best and do the best you possibly can, then you will get there.