Kimi Raikkonen is a man under pressure, but not that you’d notice talking to him. Speaking in the privacy of Shell’s trackside laboratory at the Austrian Grand Prix, ESPN sat down briefly with the 2007 world champion to discuss both F1’s future and his own.
Kimi, you’ve driven V10 F1 cars, V8s and now these V6 turbos. Which of those was the most fun and why did it appeal to you?
Obviously the cars are a bit slower now and as a driver you always want to go faster and obviously in the past the cars were faster, the tyres were better, softer … they were different, but they were faster. Obviously we changed tyres [when Pirelli arrived in 2011], but I think the old tyres were more fun to drive because you could push all the time, but now you have to save fuel, save tyres, save this, save that. It feels much more strict now, it’s still on the edge at times, but it’s not pure pushing on the limits. So it’s not like it used to be, the grip is less, you cannot attack certain corners, so I prefer the cars from the early 2000s to late 2000s. They were probably the nicest cars. The whole package and the rules dictate a lot what happens, so the rule changes have been the biggest hit that has been taken.
But does F1 need to make more rule changes to get back to where it was in the 2000s?
The rules themselves have changed a lot [since the 2000s] and they have tried to make it more of a show and more entertaining, but let’s be honest, we also got a lot of overtaking done in those years without any devices. It was more of a show in some respects, because there were more faster cars and obviously the rules have changed, but they need to do something to bring it back to what is really F1. It’s supposed to be the fastest thing on a race circuit and when you ask people now they probably don’t think it.
Is it not also a problem for the spectacle that one team is running away with it all the time?
But that happens – not always, but often. When I started it was Ferrari all the time, then it was the Red Bulls and now it is Mercedes. One team gets things perfectly fine then obviously the gap is much bigger and then when they keep making rule changes there is always a bigger chance that one team gets it right and other teams have to start to catch up. If you keep the rules for many years then at some point it will close up. You will never avoid a dominant team with the rules, one team will always win. People complain when it’s not them, but then in one year or two years it might have changed.
Ferrari has made progress towards closing the gap to Mercedes this year, how confident are you that you will be part of that progress going forward into next year?
You have to ask the team, it’s not really in my hands. Obviously they want more all the time and it hasn’t been an ideal start to the year, but we make progress all the time. As a team we have made a big, big step from where we were last year to where we are now. I’m sure we have made a bigger step than all the other teams, but obviously it is still not enough to be where we want to be, but it’s not easy and we need time. We keep going in the right direction and the people in the team are obviously still not enjoying to finish third and second, we want to be consistently able to win races at every race. But as long as we continue to do the same thing and go in the same direction, I’m sure we will get there. But we cannot make miracles in the next few months.
Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene says all he needs is “good performances” from you in order to be persuaded to keep you next year, so what do you need to do to meet his expectations?
I’ll do my best and if it’s not enough then it’s not enough. We are not far away from where we can be maximum happy with where we finish, but obviously that is still not enough for us. We want to win races, but unfortunately we are not exactly in that position even if we have a straightforward race. Obviously we will just keep working. I’m not worried about next year too much, if it happens it happens and if not then you can say that I’m happy and the team is going the right way and everybody is enjoying much more. But still there is a lot of work to be done to be 100% happy as a team and for me as well. Time will tell.
| Source: espn.co.uk |
You just can’t help but smile and laugh along with them…
Raikkonen calls for F1 to be more exciting
Kimi Raikkonen says that he thinks something needs to be done to make Formula 1 more exciting. Raikkonen is one of the stalwarts on the grid, and is the eldest driver. Himself, Jenson Button & Fernando Alonso all joined Formula 1 at the start of the millennium – an era where the cars used 3 litre V10s, grooved tyres and saw the re-introduction of launch & traction control after a decade without.
Raikkonen says he thinks Formula 1 is not the thrill it once was: “When I came into Formula, it was more exciting for everybody. It really was the top.”
Speaking in an interview with Canal+’s Jean Alesi, Raikkonen explained to his former opponent:
“It was a long time ago, so you would expect the cars now to be faster, more exciting. But obviously with the rule changes, they tried to make them slower. I’m sure something has to be done to make it more exciting for people to watch, and really for them to see the speed…make it a bit more dangerous…that’s all part of the game.”
“Obviously you don’t want to see anyone get hurt, but that would make it more exciting.”
His long-time rival and 2014 Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso made the point at the Monaco Grand Prix that he felt Formula 1 cars were no longer as challenging as they were at the start of his career in 2001:
“The last time I felt challenged mentally and physically in a car was 2005, the cars were 8 seconds or so faster. The winner of this year’s Malaysian Grand Prix would have been lapped 6 times by the winner of the Malaysian GP in 2006, so when you have 6 or 7 minutes over a race, 7-8 seconds a lap quicker, that is very demanding physically and mentally. Everything was pushed to the limit 10 years ago.”
Asked by Alesi how he felt things were going at Ferrari during his “second career” after returning to the sport in 2012, Kimi said that his head isn’t being turned by other teams at the moment:
“There are many good teams in F1, but Ferrari is different. It was very nice to win first time, first year with Ferrari. Obviously, lots of things have happened since then but I’m back with Ferrari now. Im happy, the team this year is the best they’ve been since I joined, probably the best team I’ve ever been with. The way it works, the atmosphere…
Ferrari is Ferrari…you’ll always choose that if you can.” [via formulaspy.com]
Over the Monaco Grand Prix week, Kimi was filmed for an interview by long-time friend/racing driver/compatriot/MTV3 presenter Toni Vilander. Kimi talks about racing and the different times past. The video was restricted but now it’s finally viewable from outside Finland thanks to @CokeFin for his hard work capturing and uploading for us. Kiitos!
Kimi Raikkonen — the last man to claim a world title for the famous Italian team, back in 2007 — agrees the “Prancing Horse” is looking good ahead of Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.
With four races gone in 2015, Ferrari is second to Mercedes in the constructor standings — and is pushing the world champion hard.
“The feeling inside the team is just great,” Raikkonen told CNN’s The Circuit. “We are trying to get Ferrari in a winning position every weekend.”
The Finn has a new teammate at Maranello this year, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel who joined from Red Bull.
The two drivers have a lot in common: both are new dads and live in Switzerland, where they occasionally face each other on the badminton court.
“We know each other,” Raikkonen explained with typical understatement. “He’s a very normal guy and he’s easy to work with.
“There’s no politics, if there’s something wrong we can say to each other and work it out.”
So far, Vettel has emerged as Ferrari’s No. 1 driver. The German ended the team’s victory drought with a brilliant strategic win at the Malaysian Grand Prix, and was third in Australia and China.
But a revitalized Raikkonen fought back at the last grand prix in Bahrain, finishing second to Mercedes’ race winner Lewis Hamilton as Vettel came home in fifth.
“We are trying to beat each other,” revealed Raikkonen, whose last race win came with Lotus in 2013.
“But it’s a nice friendly fight and it’s great for the team. The whole atmosphere inside the team is great.”
A new broom has been sweeping through Ferrari’s headquarters in the shape of Maurizio Arrivabene.
The Italian was a surprise appointment as team principal in November but his straight talking, not to mention his eye-catching tattoo, have impressed.
“I like how he runs things,” said Raikkonen. “You get the answer from him, it’s either yes or no, there’s nothing in the middle.
“Maurizio is exactly the guy that Ferrari needed. He’s a very hard-working guy and very fair but if something is not correct he will tell you.”
Telling it like it is meant Arrivabene told the media after Raikkonen’s Bahrain podium: “I can officially state that he’s back. He showed what a race animal he is.”
The 58-year-old didn’t pull any punches on his assessment of Vettel’s race, commenting: “Sebastian made a couple of mistakes today … Otherwise we could have had two drivers on the rostrum. But he’s a human being, as we all are.”
Vettel has a three-year contract with Ferrari while Raikkonen’s deal runs out at the end of the 2015 season.
Arrivabene said last month Ferrari would not yet exercise an option to extend the driver’s contract for another year because he wants to keep him motivated.
“Kimi is giving the best when he is a bit in trouble. This is a psychological approach,” he told reporters.
With two-time world champion Hamilton and Williams’ Finnish rising star Valtteri Bottas linked to a future Ferrari drive, Raikkonen was keen to state his case.
When asked if he would like to stay at Ferrari, the 35-year-old replied: “Yes, of course.
“They know very well what I would like to do, and we have a very good understanding but until there is something 100% you don’t know.
“We all know what we want to achieve this year and in the future.”
| Source: cnn.com |