Kimi Raikkonen didn’t have much to say in the press conference that marked the official start of the weekend in Sepang, home to the second Grand Prix of the season. But what he did say was packed with confidence.
“We are in a much better position than we were, say even at the end of last season, so in that way it’s a nice place to be but obviously we still have to improve quite a bit,” said the Finn when asked to assess the situation after the opening race.
“We want to be in front and we still don’t have the speed exactly, at least in qualifying, to be there. However, in the race I think we are a bit stronger when compared to Mercedes. I think it will be a fun year, obviously not an ideal start of the year for me in Melbourne, after we got some damage from the start and had those issues in the pit stops, but these things can happen sometimes but at least we had pretty good speed. I’m sure we’re going to have strong races and good battles, but like I said we still have some work to do to be absolutely where we want to be but we have done a good job so far.”
Even if Kimi’s Melbourne race didn’t live up to expectations, the Finn felt very comfortable with the SF15-T and he explained this was down to a combination of two factors: the new car suits his driving style better and it is a big step forward in general compared to last year’s car. “It’s the whole package,” he maintained.
“We improved the engine a lot but we improved the chassis itself a lot as well. You cannot just point to one area that has been improved from last year. Everybody is working as one team and things are going in the right direction and people are pushing and doing a good job. Like I said, it’s still early days. We still have to work hard and improve things but, from where we started, so far we have done a good job.”
The FIA Drivers Press Conference – Full transcript
Q: Kimi, coming to you, obviously you had some problems in Australia towards the end of the race but the pace all weekend was good and you were close to your team-mate Vettel throughout, so it looks like it’s going to be a good in-house battle between the two of you. How do you see it?
Kimi Raikkonen: Obviously we are in a much better position than we were say even at the end of last year so in that way it’s a nice place to be but obviously we still have to improve quite a bit. We want to be in front and we still don’t have the speed exactly, at least in qualifying, to be there. In the race I think we are a bit stronger compared to Mercedes. But I think it will be a fun year, obviously not an ideal start of the year and we got some damage from the start and had those issues in the pit stops but you know it can happen sometimes but at least we had pretty good speed. I’m sure we’re going to have strong races and good battles but like I said we still have some work to do to be absolutely where we want to be but we have done a good job so far.
Q: Can you tell us what it is about the chassis and the way it handles in particular that makes it a better race car for you personally?
KR: I think it’s the whole package. It’s not just the engine we improved. Yes, we improved that a lot but we improved the chassis itself a lot as well. It’s the whole package, you cannot just point to one area that has been improved from last year, it’s the whole thing. I think how everybody works and it’s one team and things are going in the right direction and people are pushing and doing a good job. Like I said, it’s still early days. We still have to work hard and improve things but where we started, so far we have done a good job.
(Dan Knutson – Speed Sport) Accidents can happen to experienced drivers, so Nico, and Kimi, do you every worry about having accidents? Has there been a time in your F1 career where you maybe thought ‘I don’t want to go out?’
KR: I’ve had quite a few accidents in the past and last year one not so nice one. But it’s part of the game. If you make a mistake, you pay a price. It’s up to you. If you’re not prepared to take the risk or if you’re scared, I’m sure there’s plenty of guys that are willing to jump in a car and race. So, no, I think you… obviously it’s part of the thing but I think you have better chances to get hurt in normal traffic than on the race circuits.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, can you expect this circuit to give your car the same chance to have a good position, as you had at Melbourne?
KR: Well, I hope it’s better than Melbourne for me. Like I said, we had the speed and I think things are running smoothly, we just have to avoid mistakes. We had some bad luck at the start but the car’s been quick at every circuit we’ve been to so far so I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be here. I think it could be even better than it was at the last race. It’s a proper circuit and I think it will be good, fitting well at this circuit so we’ll just wait and see.
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 26, 2015
I was really excited to see this issue arrive. It has two articles on Kimi, one written by James Roberts during the pre-season testing and the other by Andrew Benson ‘investigating’ whether ‘Kimi is a true great’. Needless to say, the latter is no question for me. He is an F1 great because at the end of the day, he is the fastest of them all in my humble opinion. For me, it’s as simple as this – Pinnacle of motorsport; Formula 1. Pinnacle of speed?; Kimi Raikkonen.
Roberts’ feature was enjoyable as it interviews Kimi and reveals some funny things like new Ferrari team principle Arrivabene finding Kimi on the floor and not sure why! But there was a point to it and no alcohol was involved; Kimi was watching the SF15T being worked on. A happy sounding Kimi made this interview a pleasure to read.
The second feature by Benson was poorly written for an F1 magazine charging £5 per issue. Disappointed in F1 Racing for not having another writer to do this feature such as Peter Windsor (who knows what he’s talking about and hasn’t got his head up Alonso’s butt!). But if you want to waste 10 minutes reading it as I wasted scanning it, go ahead.
F1 Mastermind: Quiz yourself on Kimi’s career
I haven’t actually quizzed myself in a long time regarding Kimi’s career, so I gave it go on the camera :) No cheating either! How did you do?
The Scuderia was the fourth best team in 2014, trailing Mercedes, Red Bull and Williams, but it showed a step forward in winter testing and converted that form in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Sebastian Vettel finished third, while Kimi Raikkonen was set to come home at least fifth before a problem caused by damage from a cross-threaded wheel nut sent him into retirement.
In qualifying, Vettel and Raikkonen were fourth and fifth behind Felipe Massa’s Williams but both felt the car was capable of third, behind Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
“I believe in the race, we are not far from Mercedes,” said Raikkonen. “I’m sure we can be up there and fight at the front.
“Obviously it depends on the race and what they do, but we had too many things not going our way in the race.
“Even with the damage on the floor at the rear and also the end plate got damaged in the second pit stop, the car was still fast.
“I strongly believe we have a good race car, a good car over one lap.
“It is obviously not fast enough yet but I think the gap in the race is much smaller than qualifying.
“We have to improve in qualifying as Mercedes is ahead of us by some margin.”
VIDEO: Watch Kimi being interviewed at Melbourne (from 2:09mins onwards):
On Ferrari’s 2015 car: “A lot better car, as a team we are much happier compared to where we finished last year but we still have a lot of things to improve, make things better, but it’s a much better start.”
On working with Vettel: “I think we have a good relationship already before he came to Ferrari, I know him a little bit, he’s a very easy-going, normal guy so I think we have a good team going on, everybody’s working well together, the atmosphere is fine, so I think it helps us plus it helps the team more.”
On favourite F1 memory: “Winning the championship in 2007 so..”
On being a father, (has it changed you?): “I am already a dad so for me hasn’t changed anything. Obviously at home it’s a different story but it’s a great thing. Obviously F1 is just a work, it’s not my life, you know I have a life outside of this, F1 is my work and something that I enjoy to do; outside is much more important and it’s a lovely thing like I said. It’s early days so far.”
Report – “Forza Ferrari!” the Italian accent might still need some work, but this was Sebastian Vettel’s happy radio message to the team on his slowing down lap, as he made it to the podium in his debut race for the Prancing Horse. It was the Scuderia’s first podium since Fernando Alonso finished second in last year’s Hungarian Grand Prix and it was Vettel’s first since a third place in Japan, also in 2014.
The season started with a Safety Car, as Maldonado’s Lotus spun and crashed at Turn 2 on the opening lap, leaving plenty of debris to deal with. By then we had already lost Magnussen and Kvyat who had problems on the way to the grid and, of course the two Manor cars were not there either. The Mercedes duo led off the front row, followed by Massa in the Williams. Kimi and Sebastian were behind the lead trio, but the Finn’s Ferrari found itself trapped behind Massa and dropped to eighth.Once the Safety Car came in, Vettel managed his race to the end and thanks to a well planned strategy, he was able to get ahead of Massa at his pit stop on lap 24.
Kimi’s race was complicated by a problem with the left rear wheel, during his pit stop on lap 16. Trying to make up for lost time, he put in several fastest lap after fastest lap, passing Verstappen on lap 27, he was fifth and set off in pursuit of Massa. Unfortunately, there was a problem at his second pit stop, again with the left rear, which resulted in the Finn having to park his SF-15T at the side of the track.
Sebastian Vettel’s third place is a great reward for all the hard work over the winter and a great incentive to learn lessons from the weekend and mount an even stronger challenge in a fortnight’s time in the heat of Malaysia.
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1 Lap|
|7||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1 Lap|
|8||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|9||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Toro Rosso/Renault||1 Lap|
|10||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1 Lap|
|11||Jenson Button||McLaren/Honda||2 Laps|
|-||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Renault||Retirement|
|-||Kevin Magnussen||McLaren/Honda||Not started|
|-||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/Renault||Not started|
|9||Carlos Sainz Jr.||2|
Official Team Statements
Kimi Raikkonen: “Shortly after the start, someone hit me from behind. Then I felt another contact on my right side, but I don’t think it was Sebastian’s car. The impact activated the anti-stall system and did some damage to the floor of the car. We were very quick in the race, able to catch the Williams and to fight for the podium: but then there were problems at both pit stops. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I know I lost something in terms of downforce. However, my team-mate’s podium is a great result for the team. Already in qualifying, despite my mistake on the quick lap, we knew we had a good car. And in the race, the gap to the Mercedes seemed less than on Saturday. It’s simply that, today, everything happened to me.”
Maurizio Arrivabene: “I’m only half happy today, because the real joy comes when you win. I am happy about the podium and for Seb, but above all I am pleased for the team, because this is a good starting point, although it’s definitely not the end of the road. I am sorry for Kimi, because everyone could see how strong he was in the race. But at the second pit stop, there was a problem with a wheelnut on which the threads had already been crossed during the first one. We realised there was a possible problem and we decided to stop the car immediately, because safety is the number one priority. Looking to Malaysia, we will keep our feet on the ground, because the Albert Park is a rather unusual track. If the second Williams had also been racing today, there would have been a clearer picture of the opposition we face. But now we have realised we can do well, we must begin to stop thinking about being “second best” and start aiming higher.”
Team radio – Kimi: “Did you leave the rear loose?”
“I got hit by Sainz on the rear wheel, the floor got damaged at the rear,” Raikkonen explained after the race. “I then got hit by the Sauber quite heavily so it damaged the front wing.”
The early incident could have derailed Raikkonen’s race but Ferrari switched him to a two-stop strategy, which seemed to be working as he scythed through the field in his middle stint. He set several fastest laps before his second pit stop but then his hard work was undone when Ferrari failed to correctly fit his left rear tyre on lap 40.
“I’m not very happy right now but I still believe in the race we are not too far away from Mercedes [on pace]. Obviously it depends on the race and what they do, we just had too many things not go our way today. I am sure we can be up there and fight at the front, so obviously we need to improve in qualifying as they are ahead of us by some margin. Things didn’t work out this weekend.
“We had the speed for a podium, even with the issues we went through after the start, we could still challenge the Williams at the end of the race, but it didn’t happen. I think we had a good car in qualifying, so we should have been higher up. Even with the damage with the floor from the rear when we got hit, the car was still fast. I strongly believe that we have a good race car, a fast car, I think the gap in the race is much smaller than in qualifying. Too many issues and an unfortunate thing we didn’t finish.” [espn.co.uk]
Cross-threaded wheel cause of pit-stop problem: As he brought his car to a stop Raikkonen asked his team “did you leave the wheel loose?”. “Unfortunately the wheel was not tight,” his engineer replied, “I’m sorry, Kimi”.[f1fanatic.co.uk]
Ferrari has escaped punishment from the Formula 1 stewards for releasing Kimi Raikkonen from his second Australian Grand Prix pitstop with the left-rear wheel not properly attached.
Raikkonen stopped at Turn 4 on his out-lap after the problem – caused by damage from a cross-threaded nut at an earlier stop – was detected, costing him a likely fifth-place finish.
But while unsafe releases usually lead to teams being punished, FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer accepted that the car was not sent out of the pits in an unsafe condition.
One of the crew on the left-rear corner of the car did signal that there was a problem when Raikkonen’s car was released.
But the stewards, including Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen, deemed that Ferrari had monitored this situation closely and stopped the car as soon as the data and Raikkonen confirmed there was a definite problem.
“The team explained that the system used to monitor the pitstops gave no indication that the car was in an unsafe condition when released and the team caused the driver to stop immediately [once] the problem was apparent from the driver and telemetry.
“The team had paid close attention to the telemetry after the actions of the team members involved in the pitstop and further that the FIA technical delegate accepted the car was not in an unsafe condition when released.
“The stewards took no further action.”
Team principal Maurizio Arrivabene was seen talking with the pit crew after the incident, which he stressed was primarily to ensure the team remained focused.
“I went down into the box first of all to calm them down because I didn’t want them to panic,” he said.
“Second, I was asking the mechanics what had happened and if he could explain it to me.
“I simply said to him ‘calm down, be focused, don’t worry'”.
“I got hit by Sainz on the rear wheel, the floor got damaged and the rear,” said Raikkonen. “The car went into anti-stall because of that, then obviously I was slow before I could get the gear in, then I got hit by the Sauber quite heavily so it damaged the front wing, but it was the Toro Rosso of Sainz that started everything.”
Sainz admitted responsibility for the incident.
“I just know that I braked a tiny bit too” late, probably a bit too encouraged by the great start I got, and unfortunately I hit one of the Ferraris. I’m sorry for that. But lesson learned,” he said.
Kimi Raikkonen explains his tyre strategy: “The first corner shit pretty much made the plan to move around…”
— Adam Cooper (@adamcooperF1) March 15, 2015