| Source: yallaf1.com |
In the wake of his impressive return to the sport, the Finn’s two-year contract with Lotus is now expiring, and his shares are bullish at the moment in the F1 paddock.
The Enstone based team clearly wants to retain the 33-year-old former world champion, who has thrived under Lotus’ laid-back regime.
But team owner Gerard Lopez admitted to PA Sport news agency this week: “If he could find a better car somewhere else, and he had an option to go there, then I’m sure he would consider it.”
Raikkonen’s other option could be Red Bull, who are not yet committing to Mark Webber beyond the veteran Australian’s 2013 deal.
When asked how many options he has for 2014, former Ferrari and McLaren driver Raikkonen told Italy’s Autosprint: “It depends. I would say that I have two, but in Formula 1 you never know exactly.”
“I’ve been here (in Formula 1) long enough to know that the only thing that matters is finding the right situation for yourself,” he answered, when asked how he will come to his final decision.
Steve Robertson, Raikkonen’s long-time manager, said it is obvious the cool Finn – nicknamed ‘the iceman’ – is the hottest property on the driver market at present.
“Kimi has done a brilliant job with Lotus so it’s no secret that, at the moment, he is the hottest driver available for next year,” he told Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat.
“You know what a good job a driver is doing when a team (Lotus) starts talking so early about next year,” added Robertson.
“I am not saying if there are more teams interested (in Raikkonen) but, for sure, a driver as competitive as Kimi is right now is always very much in the attention of all the top teams,” he said.
| Source: sportinglife.com |
Despite the continual speculation surrounding Raikkonen and a likely future move to Red Bull for next season, Lopez has no doubts the 33-year-old Finn is content with life at Lotus.
With a quarter of the season gone heading into this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, Raikkonen is currently Sebastian Vettel’s closest rival as he trails the three-times champion by just four points.
Whether the duo will be in the same team next season is still to open to debate, although Lopez does not believe that will be the case.
“I’m not concerned,” said Lopez, speaking to Press Association Sport when asked whether he was worried Raikkonen would leave.
“We know we want Kimi to drive for us next year, but then we also know Kimi’s character well, which means you can’t force him to do anything.
“I know he’s happy, and at this stage if he had to choose (which team to drive for next season) I know where he would be.
“The main thing about Kimi is he naturally wants a car to win, and he has got that with us.
“If he could find a better car somewhere else, and he had an option to go there, then I’m sure he would consider it.
“But I know we’re giving him what he needs, and as long as we keep on doing that then he’ll stay with us.”
Although doubts have been raised as to whether Lotus could compete financially with Red Bull should it come down to money, Lopez offered a revealing insight.
“I saw some numbers which are rubbish,” added Lopez.
“I don’t think there are many drivers who make more money than Kimi does in Formula One right now.”
“With Kimi you never really sit down with him to discuss something as specific as a new contract – you just talk and that’s it. It’s a different relationship,” said Lopez.
“I know it sounds odd, but we don’t run our team like other teams run theirs, which is why Kimi fits with us.
“Of course, we do talk to Kimi about a contract, but most importantly we talk to him about how he feels and about how to move forward, and that kind of automatically leads to the other.”
Suggested to Lopez it boils down to a shake of the hand and having a gentleman’s agreement with Raikkonen, he replied: “That’s exactly what it is.”
| Source: autosport.com |
Kimi Raikkonen will commit himself to a fresh contract at Lotus as long as the outfit continues to build on its strong start to the campaign, reckons team owner Gerard Lopez.
The Finn is a free agent at the end of the year, and his strong comeback to F1 has already seen him emerge as one of the key players in the 2014 driver market.
But despite speculation already linking him with other teams – including Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari – Lopez says he is ‘convinced’ that Raikkonen will remain where he is providing Lotus maintains it competitive form.
“Kimi is a fantastic guy,” Lopez said in an exclusive interview with AUTOSPORT. “The thing about Kimi is that he is very thankful we brought him back to where he is.
“And we are very thankful that he has brought the team to where it is now. So it fits nicely.
“To be honest with you, I am convinced, and I don’t say this lightly, that if Kimi gets what he wants from us in terms of performance and so on, we will see Kimi moving forward with us.
“He knows that; and he says that. He is not going to get what he gets with us here anywhere else. It doesn’t matter if the team has a blue car, a red car or a silver car.
“But this is also racing. So we have to make sure that he has a good competitive car. He has got one. As long as we can give that he will be with us.”
Raikkonen has won two races with Lotus since returning at the start of 2012, and is currently 10 points off leader Sebastian Vettel in the drivers’ championship.
Lopez said he never had any doubts that Raikkonen would be able to produce such form after being lured back from rallying, even though there were many people sceptical about the choice because of the Finn’s relaxed public image.
“We must have had 11 choices [for 2012] – and I can tell you from the outside it was by far not the most obvious one. But to us, it was,” he said.
“Honestly there is a lot of pride in this team that we made that choice because we were 100 per cent convinced. It is one of those things where you look at people and say, ‘I told you so’.
“We were absolutely convinced that he had what he takes. I dealt with him, talked to him and knew what I was going to get myself in to.
“I knew I wasn’t getting someone who was going to shoot a commercial every week or whatever. That is not what we want. But a dedicated racer? That was a given.”
| Source: yallaf1.com |
There would be ‘no bullshit’ in the Red Bull pit garage if Sebastian Vettel was to be paired in the team with friend Kimi Raikkonen in 2014.
Amid speculation Red Bull is considering the Finn as a potential replacement for Mark Webber next year, world champion Vettel suggested he would be happy with that choice.
“I don’t care who my teammate is,” German Vettel told Sport Bild. ”If you want to win, you have to beat everyone.”
“But if Kimi was my teammate: fine! We have no problem with each other and we’re mature enough to deal with it even in a difficult situation.”
“I get along well with him,” Vettel, whose tetchy relationship with Webber fell to an all-time low with the recent ‘Multi-21′ affair, continued, still referring to Raikkonen.
“He’s just very honest. There’s no bullshit with him.”
Raikkonen has also spoken glowingly of Vettel, even though he has been careful to drop no hints about his plans beyond his Lotus contract.
“We trust each other in a duel to not do anything stupid,” said the Finn. “We’re both open and honest. If we were to crash, we would probably complain about each other, but that’s just normal.”
| Source: formula1.com |
Q: Eric, Kimi proved again today that he is worth every penny. So how are you going to keep him in the future if, as has been rumoured, he’s now on Red Bull’s radar?
Eric Boullier: It is not the question of how I am going to keep him – it is a question of does he want to stay? This is really the question. I am sure he is on the radar of a number of teams. One thing is clear: Kimi is not back in Formula One because he needs money – he is here because he wants to win races. Moreover he wants to win races in the conditions he likes. Maybe Mr Mateschitz is dreaming of getting him on board – and maybe he will get him on board – but in the end it is Kimi who will decide what he wants to do. At Lotus he’s got a team around him, he’s got what he likes in F1 – and he’s got a car that is capable of winning. So why should he want to race against Vettel at Red Bull Racing?
Q: What would happen if Kimi went to race with Sebastian in one team? How would you picture that going?
EB: I think that one of them would not be happy.
Q: Any guess who that would be?
EB: Well, from what I understand from Red Bull Racing, maybe Kimi.
Q: There have been rumours that Mark Webber could make a switch somewhere else midseason. Could you imagine a driver swap?
EB: No, that is not a plan. My whole focus is to give the drivers everything – particularly Kimi – to make sure that we can fight for the world championship. Kimi has proven in the past that he can pull it off – he finished third in the standings last year, despite a two-year absence – and he is in fantastic shape this season. He is a fantastic racer, a great driver and an excellent finisher. (more…)
| Source: autosport.com |
Kimi Raikkonen sees no reason for Pirelli to rethink its approach to Formula 1 tyres, as he dismissed the criticism the Italian firm has received following the degradation issues that characterised the opening rounds of the 2013 season.
Red Bull had already been pushing Pirelli to change its compounds even before a Chinese Grand Prix weekend in which the soft tyre proved particularly short-lasting. Leading drivers have also complained that having to conserve tyres is stifling them and forcing them to allow rivals past without a fight.
But Raikkonen, who won the Australian Grand Prix by making two tyre stops compared to his main rivals’ three, does not think 2013 is that different to any other season for tyre management.
The Finn is adamant the onus is on teams to adapt rather than pushing for rule changes.
“I don’t think the racing at the front is any different to what it has been in the past,” he said.
“F1 hasn’t really changed a lot in the 10-odd years that I’ve been here.
“Of course some years you’ve been able to go faster but then you do more stops, and shorter runs with less fuel.
“In those years if you’d put 50 kilos more fuel in you’d have had to look after the tyres. It hasn’t really changed.
“Sometimes now you have to look after the tyres, but if you did six stops you wouldn’t have to look after your tyres.
“It’s your option. Whatever is the fastest way for you to do the race, you try to do it.”
Raikkonen thinks Pirelli as in a no-win situation and would be criticised whatever approach it took.
“You can never please everybody so for Pirelli it’s not an easy job,” he said.
“Whatever they do, there will be teams, drivers and people who will not be happy.
“In the past we had different tyres but some teams were not as happy with those tyres as other teams were.
“Sometimes you have some issues and you pay the price for it. But that’s OK because otherwise it would be easy.”
“In some ways yes [I have a better chance] because we started better. I know the team and I kind of know what to expect and what’s going to come.
“I think we did pretty OK last year so hopefully we can do a bit better this year but obviously it’s a long season and we have some bad races and we might be out. So when we have a bad race we have to try to minimise those and make the most out of it.”
Fernando Alonso says Kimi Raikkonen has had a strong start to the season with Lotus.
Alonso, who trails Raikkonen by six points after three races, said: “Kimi is having a fantastic start to the season and driving maybe better than anyone.”
Sebastian Vettel leads the drivers’ championship at the moment but Alonso believes “championship positions are not really important” at this stage.
“But at the same time, it’s not a big surprise to see Lewis where he is,” said Alonso. “He is one of the best drivers on the grid right now and last year he put McLaren in a competitive position and this year he is doing it with Mercedes.”
| 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: autosport.com |
Lotus insists it is not worried that Red Bull may try to lure Kimi Raikkonen away next year.
Amid the fallout from the Red Bull ‘Multi 21′ team orders controversy, there has been increased speculation that the outfit may need a new team-mate for Sebastian Vettel in 2014.
With question marks still surrounding the potential of Toro Rosso juniors Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne, Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz recently admitted that Raikkonen was an obvious candidate if the outfit elects to make a change.
Lotus owner Gerard Lopez says he is not unduly concerned about Red Bull’s expression of interest, and he thinks that Raikkonen has enough reasons to stay at Lotus for another year.
When asked by AUTOSPORT if he believed Lotus would have a fight on its hands with Red Bull for Raikkonen’s services, Lopez said: “Kimi’s position is going to be based on a bunch of things and not on what Red Bull say – I think they have their hands full right now.
“As far as we are concerned, the relationship with Kimi is excellent.
“We are where we want to be, he is where he wants to be, and I can guarantee you that Kimi is not the sort of guy who is going to sign any sort of pre-contract. Not with anybody.
“If we keep giving him what he wants then I don’t see there is any reason for him to go anywhere.
“We are happy, so we don’t see any reason to replace him.”
Lopez suspects that Red Bull’s mentioning of Raikkonen may have been a political move to try to calm the situation down at its own team following the Malaysia controversy.
“I think it [future drivers] is far off the whole game right now,” he said. “They have their own issues and maybe saying something like that, they are thinking it may be able to help them but I don’t see how.
“We are well where we are and I think Kimi will stay.”
| Source: gpinternational |
Race engineer Mark Slade and Lotus Trackside Operations Director Alan Permane speak to Tony Dodgins about Kimi Raikkonen, in this nice feature from GP International’s April issue. Click here to read the preview in high-res. Enjoy!
| Source: lotusf1team.com |
A repeat of a previous article… but I guess Lotus need some news to keep the fans occupied till China in two weeks time!
There are few more mysterious men in the Formula 1 paddock – or indeed the sporting world – than Kimi Räikkönen. So, just who is the Iceman? We spoke to some of his closest companions to dig a little deeper…
Toni Vilander has been a very close friend to Kimi since they started racing together as 10-year-olds and were also in the army together.
Toni won the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship for Ferrari in the GTE class and is a very experienced GT racer.
“As we race in different places we have not been seeing each other very often, but I think the friendship is forever” he says.
Toni is a father himself and Kimi is also the godparent of his son Luukas.
Was it any kind of a surprise to Toni to see his friend having such a consistent season after two years’ absence?
“I was more surprised about Kimi making a comeback than how he performed during last season” says Toni. “When he stopped, he was so fed up with Formula 1 and kept saying “never again”. I think it’s a good thing to have some distance away from everything and do something totally different, like rallying. That’s how your way of thinking changes and your approach gets stronger and stronger.
“Kimi is Kimi. It doesn’t matter how different the cars, the tyres or the rules are, it takes only a couple of laps and he is straight away within a second of the top guys. That’s what he did at the beginning of the Lotus era, too.”
Kimi’s image as a laid back person was seen even more during his first season as a Lotus F1 Team driver. His physio, Mark Arnall, has been working with Kimi since 2001 and asserts that the laid back image gives a false impression of how hard the Finnish star trains.
“When Kimi races he is not laid back. He fights and keeps fighting as long as the car is moving. That’s how he works in training as well. Since we started, he has always been like that. He gives 110% every time, whatever the programme.”
Kimi even ensures that his trainer stays in top condition. “He gave me the latest heart rate monitor from Finnish company Suunto for Christmas” says Mark.
One long-time trusted friend has a big input into how Kimi looks on track. Uffe Tägtström – one of the leading helmet designers in the racing world – has been designing Kimi’s helmets since his karting days.
The driver is very much involved in the design process too, so how artistic is Kimi?
“Artistic? I would not say he is very artistic, but he knows what he wants and he is very fashion-conscious. He is certainly of his generation” Uffe says.
Kimi has always been a trend setter in design style. “Sometimes it has been that whatever Kimi brings to his helmet design, it doesn’t take that much time to see the same idea in some way on somebody else’s helmet, too.”
Kimi saves all his helmets and remembers the season just by having a look at the helmet design.
“Usually Kimi gives a hint of what should be on his helmet for the season ahead” says Uffe. “I’ll then make five different versions of the idea on the computer and he picks what he likes the most.
“Last year he wanted to have his race number up there. He had the number previously during the McLaren times, but then it was at the back of the helmet. Now the number has changed from 9 to 7, but there isn’t that much of a change for 2013, just some new partners” Uffe explains.
At the 2012 Monaco Grand Prix, Kimi showed his respect to a driver of the 1970s when he incorporated the James Hunt design and name on his helmet.
“The idea was there for many years, but with McLaren and Ferrari, there was no opportunity to use it. Last year it was perfect and the feedback was great too” Uffe praises.
Let’s wait and see what Monaco brings along this time…
| Source: lotusf1team.com |
This feature contains some old and some recent quotes from Kimi’s mother and his brother Rami, still a nice read…
There are few more mysterious men in the Formula 1 paddock – or indeed the sporting world – than Kimi Räikkönen. So, just who is the Iceman? We spoke to some of his closest companions to dig a little deeper…
Iceman – the nickname given to Kimi Räikkönen by Ron Dennis at the beginning of the 2002 season – suits the 2007 Formula 1 World Champion perfectly.
The Finnish star is most likely the coolest guy in Formula 1… ever. There is nothing that really makes him upset, angry or happy for more than fifteen minutes or so. Kimi is quick to put everything behind him. The cool nature is innate.
Kimi’s mother Paula remembers him only once being very nervous and losing his cool outlook. He was six years old at the time.
Paula took her son for a regular check-up with their doctor and Kimi had to wait in the corner with toys to keep him occupied as mother and doctor talked. There were many toys, but suddenly Kimi became agitated, biting his finger nails and acting very nervously.
“The doctor started to think that Kimi perhaps had a concentration problem,” Paula explains, “but it was only a question of the toys!
“In those days Kimi was interested in jigsaw puzzles and felt that the jigsaw puzzle available in the surgery was too easy. He saw the puzzle for older children – for 10-15 years old – but could not reach it. The doctor’s assistant refused to give it to him and told him it was meant for older children, not for him.
“Finally Kimi got the more difficult jigsaw puzzle, put the pieces in place and smiled. The doctor was laughing; convinced now that this kid did not have any kind of problem with concentration,” Paula says with the pride of a parent in her voice.
Kimi learnt to drive around that age and – as with putting the pieces together in a jigsaw puzzle – so he started to become the master of putting pieces right in his racing, without losing his concentration in any circumstances.
Paula confirms that Kimi’s willpower has always been tremendously strong.
“He is always going his own way. Whatever you do, you cannot change his mind if he has decided something. As a small kid, if I wanted him to help me in some household chores – let’s say like taking a trash can out – if I saw he didn’t want to do it, i had to ask in an opposite way. I’d say to him: “Don’t you take the trash can out; I will do it myself.” Usually that way Kimi did it,” his mother recalls.
So when did his parents find out that their younger son had the talent to become a world-class motorsport star?
“The closest people – like parents – never see those kind of things themselves,” says Paula. “I think we noticed some promising signs for the first time when Kimi was about ten years old and started in the junior classes of go-karts in Finland. It was a father of one the competitors – who had a lot of experience as a mechanic for his own son – who started to ask; “who’s that boy in car number 104?” [which was Kimi].
“He said that with that attitude and that speed he would go far; and he was right” Paula smiles.
His mother also knows the strengths of her son.
“An absurd will to win every time and a never give-up attitude; that’s Kimi. From the time he started racing, he kept turning the steering wheel as long as the wheels kept rolling. I think it is that Finnish-style of tenacious fighting spirit we call ‘sisu’ in him.”
How surprised was Paula when Kimi decided to make a comeback to Formula 1?
“To be honest, I was amazed. Kimi never talks about his work with me if I don’t ask first, but I heard some rumours of his negotiations with Williams and I asked him about that. He answered that he would go to Lotus, because it was a better option for him.
“It was a surprise. His friends had been saying to me that Kimi was so tired and finished with Formula 1 and then suddenly he went back. I think it was very good for him to have his break as he seems to really be enjoying racing again” she emphasizes.
The closest people – relatives and friends – know a totally different Kimi Räikkönen compared to the one race fans see. He is far from lacking emotion, far from being blunt and tough. Quite to the contrary, he likes to help, he likes to be around, he likes to take care of his family.
Kimi’s brother Rami has two sons, Justus and Tiitus. Kimi is a godparent of the elder, Justus, and continually brings presents for both of them.
“The boys are in a way like I was with Kimi; competing with each other in every possible way. Kimi likes to keep them well equipped with all kind of racing stuff for kids. This Christmas he bought them tablets; or should I say Santa Claus brought tablets for them” Rami reveals.
But how close are the ever-competing Rami and Kimi nowadays?
“Kimi is my brother. I think it’s a very normal brother-to-brother relationship. We talk almost every week, we play ice hockey and do some other sports together. We both have our own work and that takes time; especially Kimi who works and travels a lot.”
Stay tuned for Part 2, where we’ll be finding out more about what really makes the Iceman tick…
| Source: yallaf1.com |
Lotus team owner Gerard Lopez has left the door open for a new deal with Melbourne winner and current F1 championship leader Kimi Raikkonen.
Finn Raikkonen, who became the first winner of the 2013 season in Australia last weekend, is not saying if he wants to extend his contract beyond the end of the year.
“Let’s wait and see,” the famously phlegmatic 33-year-old said.
Luxembourger Lopez admitted he will stage talks with Raikkonen – who according to many is fitter and happier at Lotus than ever before in his Formula 1 career – when the time is right.
“We have a very easy relationship with Kimi,” Lopez told Turun Sanomat newspaper.
“At the moment everything is perfect, so of course we will discuss how to proceed. I don’t think it’s so much about negotiations, but how we decide to continue the adventure together,” he added.
Raikkonen is, however, very expensive for a team without the biggest budget in pitlane, as the original contract negotiated includes healthy bonuses for points.
Last year, his 207 points reportedly earned him millions on top of his retainer.
“But these points are good for both sides – team and driver,” insisted Lopez.
“We are living in exciting times. We knew before the first race that we are better than last season, but we didn’t know exactly what the others had done over the winter. We talk about tyres, but Kimi’s performance (in Australia) was brilliant.”
| Source: autosport.com |
Kimi Raikkonen is back to his very best, reckons Lotus team boss Eric Boullier.
The Finn triumphed in the Australian Grand Prix after a controlled performance where a two-stop strategy proved key.
With Raikkonen taking his second win in four races, Boullier has no doubts that the 2007 world champion has kicked off the new campaign in the same manner as he ended last season.
“Kimi built up himself over the last year,” said Boullier. “You could see a strong second half of the season in 2012.
“And he is starting the season like he finished last year. We can expect him to be strong.”
Raikkonen has thrived in the atmosphere at Lotus following his F1 return, and Boullier says he has no plans to change the way he deals with the former world champion.
“I don’t think there is anybody on earth who can tell Kimi what he should do, so I am not going to start,” he added.
“It is true that the environment we have at Enstone is that we want the people to be creative and be themselves.
“It is much better for them, and we are doing this by limiting the politics and in Kimi by limiting what he hates.”
Boullier also believes that the whole Lotus team has stepped up in 2013.
When asked in what area he felt the outfit was most improved, he said: “It is everywhere to be honest. There is better co-ordination.
“We have good people in Enstone, from the aerodynamics, electronics, engine, and design. They know what they need to do. It is working.”
Raikkonen caused a surprise in Melbourne when a two-stop strategy helped him charge through from seventh on the grid to win.
The consistency of the Lotus on its tyres has prompted talk that the outfit is well set for repeat performances, but team boss Eric Boullier is not getting carried away yet.
When asked if he believed Raikkonen’s victory in Australia meant Lotus was definitely in a position to gun for the championship this year, Boullier said: “No.
“The only thing that I am focusing on is that we have clearly stated we want to be a top team.
“Starting the season like this means we will fight with everything for the championship, but it is too early to say anything other than Lotus is a top team now.
“And if every year we are putting ourselves in a situation where we can compete for wins, then you can build up from the nice momentum to maybe be champion again.”
Boullier does admit, however, that Lotus appears to be in much better shape than in 2012, when it squandered a number of opportunities to win early in the season.
“Last year already at the beginning of the season there were a couple of times we caught up with the leaders near the end of the race as we had a different strategy or were better on the tyres,” he said.
“We worked very hard to make sure we kept those strengths of last year’s car and improve obviously the weaknesses.
“It is true with the 2013 tyres that it looks like they degrade a bit more, so it has put us in a different situation.”
Boullier conceded that his outfit had headed in to the race on Sunday fearing that Red Bull was going to dominate.
“We were scared a little bit yes,” he said. “Their car here was capable of delivering more on one lap and less on a long run distance.”
| Source: foxsportasia.com |
On the second season of his return, Kimi Raikkonen’s enigmatic exterior could crack with a smile or two as the Lotus man gets a hang of things once more in Formula One.
When you think of the moniker ‘Iceman’, many characters come to mind.
There’s Steve Waugh, the former Australian captain whose calmness under pressure was the stuff of legend. There’s Bjorn Borg, the Swedish tennis player who was so unperturbed at all times it was thought he had ice in his veins.
Iceman is also the name given to an X-Men character – one of the original four to debut in 1963. Bobby Drake became many things but started out in that first comic as a snarky, boyish individual who would also turn into a melodramatic Romeo figure whenever his relationships came to their inevitable end.
Today, Raikkonen is one of the few public figures who embodies the true meaning of the word. To use another term from the world of comics, the Finn prefers to live in his own internal fortress of solitude.
Many fans often mistake this aloof demeanour as being something characteristic of a ‘bad boy’ attitude but Raikkonen is not one to put on any such airs.
If he did not wish to carry out small talk with Fernando Alonso or Sebastian Vettel after winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, it wasn’t because he wanted to send any message – it’s just that he didn’t care to make small talk.
His berating of engineer Mark Slade over the radio with the now iconic “Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing” during that race was not done to extract chuckles from the watching TV audience. Instead, he just wanted it known that he was being distracted by the chatter on his earpiece.
Just like how you wouldn’t disturb a live orchestra by talking on the phone, Raikkonen’s driving demands respect and can only be interrupted with useful information.
Heck, even his media interviews are often curt and brief for the same reason as he does not feel spouting nonsense into a microphone will be of any use.
For example, he said, “I couldn’t care less what that man thinks” when asked for a response to Fernando Alonso’s comments about him at a Ferrari event in 2007.
What all this means is that Raikkonen, amusing as he may be for most of us, should be taken very seriously as he embarks on a second season in F1 since returning from a two-year sojourn away from the sport.
The 33-year-old, who split up with wife Jenni Dahlman last month, did remarkably well to finish third in the standings last year and can be expected to do better than Michael Schumacher did in his second comeback season.
Lotus ready to give Raikkonen valuable support
Last season was a turning point for the Enstone marque on the track and in the factory. The won their first Grand Prix since 1987 and are the only team to possess the ‘double-DRS technology’ after Red Bull’s invention was outlawed in July last year.
It’s a formidable setup capable of competing with the big three.
Moreover, team principal Eric Boullier has forged a good understanding with Raikkonen, reeling him in whenever he went off on a tangent even if it meant an off-course drive in Brazil.
The trick to managing Raikkonen is accepting that the former Ferrari driver bristles under criticism, even if he doesn’t show it on the surface. He responds to the emotional weight of words as opposed to the rationale behind them and Boullier seems to have found a way to get the former world champion to take suggestions in the spirit that they’re meant.
Notice his comments on the Formula 1 website last month on what managing the free-spirited driver is like: “You clearly have to draw a line.
“To be honest he is not difficult to manage, but you have to make the engineers understand and respect his way of thinking and behaving.
“He might have his moments sometimes, but it is up to us to adjust what we want to achieve to his style rather than the reverse. I probably prefer to switch the team to the style of Kimi.
“No, [Kimi is not king at Lotus] because at the same time I don’t want to have a spoiled character who is probably leading the team in the wrong direction.
“We are not servicing his moods. We are just making sure that he can be himself. This is a big difference.”
A big difference that top managers in the world of sport regularly deal with in talented yet tempestuous individuals – Sir Alex Ferguson has done it with Wayne Rooney, Jose Mourinho with Cristiano Ronaldo and perhaps most famously, Mike Brearley (as captain, not manager) did it with Ian Botham who then went on to destroy Australia in the 1981 Ashes.
Simultaneously, the Lotus team did a brilliant job on the technical front as their E20 machine was remarkably kind to the tyres. The car rarely suffered tyre degradation, allowing the Finn to complete all his races; quite a feat when considering how chaotic the previous season actually was for all the other cars.
Team-mate Romain Grosjean would love such consistency given that he was to blame for pile-ups at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit as well as in Suzuka last year. Probably because of all the shenanigans, Boullier made the Frenchman sweat for his second season confirmation – he only got it two months after Raikkonen was confirmed and a whole month after the completion of the season.
Having been left to stew for so long, Grosjean will likely be happy to play second fiddle and will be ready to do his best to support Raikkonen if the senior driver is in a position to make a serious bid for the title. At least that’s what Lotus will be hoping for.
The importance of having a strong support driver cannot be underestimated as McLaren struggled with having to balance two title contenders even as Red Bull’s Mark Webber and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa did an admirable job on the circuit to boost their team-mates’ chances of winning the final races of the season.
Can Raikkonen really make a bid for the title?
Realistically speaking, the answer is no. Raikkonen obviously possesses top-notch racing instincts but his E21 may not have the raw power needed to start from the front in most races.
A front-row start can be crucial to the chances of winning a race, despite combustible tyres and other factors, and even the most consistent drivers may not be able to catch up with the pace-setters, as Alonso painfully learned last year.
Lotus also completed the least number of laps in pre-season testing, although that’s never a clear indicator. Even the much-talked about “passive double-DRS” has yet to be properly used within a race.
Boullier & co may have to learn that ideas without action end up becoming regrets. While Raikkonen’s third-place finish might have come as a pleasant surprise, the pressure will be on to repeat or even better that this year.
With a good, but not spectacular, car the only person who can help his team achieve that is Raikkonen himself. Only if he cares to, of course.
The famous Finn burst back into Formula 1 with Lotus last year, earning legions of new fans who enjoy his unique personality, and finishing a surprise third in the world championship.
Raikkonen’s mother, Paula, said she was surprised late in 2011 when she read rumours her 33-year-old son was thinking about returning to Formula 1.
“I had heard rumours of his talks with Williams, so I asked him about it,” she is quoted by the Finnish broadcaster MTV3.
“He said he would prefer to go to Lotus, because it was a better option for him. It was a surprise,” she said.
“His friends had told me that he stopped Formula 1 because he was tired (of it), and then suddenly he went back. I think the little break was a good thing, because now he seems to be enjoying the racing again,” she added.
Mama-Räikkönen: Kimi has an absurd will to win
Kimi Räikkönen’s mom Paula Räikkönen describes her son as a stubborn competitor.
She remembers that Kimi always wanted to race for the victory.
“Kimi has always had an absurd will to win and he never gives in. When he started to race as a child he turned the steering wheel for as long as the tires were rolling. I believe that it’s Finnish Sisu, the will to fight, guts,” Paula Räikkönen says in Lotus-team’s preview.
Kimi’s parents got a hunch of their son’s talent when Kimi was racing junior races in karting at the age of 10.
“One racer’s dad who was an experienced mechanic came to ask about Kimi: “Who is that boy in car number 104″. Closest people, like parents, rarely notice these things themself,” Paula Räikkönen said.
Adrian Sutil has played down the length of time it may take him to get back up to speed with the cut and thrust of Formula 1 by pointing to the example of Kimi Raikkonen last year as showing how quickly drivers can rediscover their old form.
The German driver, after weeks of speculation, was finally confirmed as Paul di Resta’s team-mate at Force India for the new season on Thursday and on Friday returned for his second outing in their 2013 car at Barcelona, completing 62 laps and recording the rain-hit day’s sixth-fastest time.
With just one day left in the VJM06, on Saturday, before Melbourne, Sutil will in total have had just three days back in an F1 car this winter since his last grand prix appearance in Brazil in November 2011.
However, asked if he envisaged having to go through a period of acclimatising to racing again during the opening flyaway rounds, a defiant Sutil responded: “I don’t think about problems, I look forward to the first races.
“I’m a positive person, not a negative person. If I only look on the problems and difficulties I get myself into a real problem.
“So I’m confident and just one year out of racing…I take Kimi as the best example. He was the most consistent driver in the whole field last year and had two years of break [from F1].”
Videos – past run-ins between Sutil and Raikkonen:
Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen is being tipped to fight for pole position at the season opener in Australia next month, and the world championship in 2013.
“I am quite sure Kimi will fight for the championship,” fellow Finn Mika Salo, now a commentator for the MTV3 broadcaster, said.
After two seasons in rallying, 2007 world champion Raikkonen returned to formula one with Lotus last year, finishing the championship third and winning in Abu Dhabi.
“Last year he was not able to consistently show good results all of the time, and the team made mistakes that should not be repeated,” said former Sauber and Ferrari driver Salo.
“It is clear that the Lotus has now improved. I have no doubt that, in Australia, Kimi will fight for pole position.”
The third and final pre-season test takes place at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona this week.
The four day test which begins on Thursday provides the eleven teams with their final chance to test their cars before the Australian Grand Prix.
In a first for the sport, testing will be shown live on Sky Sports F1 and in 3D, with the final two hours of each day being broadcast live.
With the first two tests taking place in largely fine and dry weather, the first two days of the final test look set to be affected by wet conditions.
|Red Bull||M. Webber||M. Webber||S. Vettel||S. Vettel|
|Ferrari||F. Massa||F. Alonso||F. Massa||F. Alonso|
|McLaren||S. Perez||J. Button||S. Perez||J. Button|
|Lotus||R. Grosjean||R. Grosjean||K. Raikkonen||K. Raikkonen|
|Mercedes||L. Hamilton||N. Rosberg||L. Hamilton||N. Rosberg|
|Sauber||E. Gutierrez||N. Hulkenberg||E. Gutierrez||N. Hulkenberg|
|Williams||V. Bottas||V. Bottas||P. Maldonado||P. Maldonado|
|Toro Rosso||J. Vergne||D. Ricciardo||J. Vergne||D. Ricciardo|
The March 2013 issue of F1Racing arrived in my post yesterday – it includes a great feature on Kimi! It’s the season preview issue, packed with lots of fab stuff including a ‘Champions of F1′ poster displaying all the winning cars in side-profile view and it’s a brilliant way of looking at how the cars’ design sometimes return back to their previous ancestors. I recommend you to buy a copy once it is out a week’s time. Enjoy!
“One of very few journalists to un-riddle F1′s great enigma is Anthony Peacock, who spent a year as the reticent Iceman’s personal press officer. And guess what? It turned out to be a laugh a minute…”
To view pages in high resolution, click on the image and select “view in full size” in the bottom right box. Or just right-click and open image link in new window you noobs!
Anthony Peacock, press officer: “Kimi may leave some interviewers frustrated, but unlike many of his contemporaries, he’ll never tell a lie; beneath the laid-back exterior there is a man with rigorous integrity.”
Mark Arnall, physical trainer: “He doesn’t get caught up worrying what people think of him. People have differing opinions about Kimi, but he really doesn’t care what they are. Instead, he has the ability to focus solely on driving the car.”
Kaj Lindstrom, rally co-driver: “There’s no side to Kimi. What you see is what you get. Sure, it wasn’t always easy. But it took me about two minutes to realise how special he was. He enjoyed his rallying and I think he’ll give it another go one day. If he asked me, I’d be delighted to co-drive for him again. It’s obvious he’s got the talent and speed.”
Steve Robertson, manager: “He’s always had this great natural feel that lets him push hard but still get the most out of the tyres. The number of fastest laps he’s set speaks for itself. It’s a god-given talent.”
Rami Raikkonen, brother: “In the end, Kimi will just do what he wants to do. The only sure thing is that the more you tell him not to do something, the more likely he is to do it.”
“Neatly packaged in one sentence, that’s all you need to know about Kimi. And it’s what makes him the most interesting individual and surprisingly committed driver out there. Because it’s easy enough to conform. Much harder to choose your own road.”
En route to his first victory since returning to F1 last year, the laconic Finn told his race engineer Simon Rennie in Abu Dhabi to “Just leave me alone, I know what I’m doing.”
Lopez told Finland’s Turun Sanomat newspaper: “Kimi is Kimi. It was just what he felt at that moment.
“Kimi is certainly the most honest guy in F1. That’s why so many people find him so refreshing.
“We don’t want our drivers to come out of a mould — they are what they are and they say what they say. I believe that is why Lotus is appreciated as we are. We are a natural team,” said Lopez.
Lotus immortalised Raikkonen’s radio outbursts with t-shirts and memorabilia, but the 33-year-old world champion of 2007 does not look back with any particular fondness on Abu Dhabi.
“I’d rather fight for the championship, but it didn’t happen,” he is quoted as saying.
Told how popular his Abu Dhabi radio messages were, Raikkonen added: “I just try to do my thing. It was just something that happened during the race — it wasn’t planned in advance.
“I’m not the biggest fan of the instructions,” he confided.
Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen are known in F1 for their sincerity and for their unconventional behavior in the sport.
Vettel tells in the latest Der Spiegel -magazine that this is exactly the reason why he gets so well along with Räikkönen.
“I like him really much. If he isn’t interested in something then he makes no secret of it. I appreciate that he is the same in his private life also, although it may seem odd to someone else,” Vettel said.
Last year in Abu Dhabi the duo inspired FIA to instruct teams that they should not talk dirty on the podium. Räikkönen used the word “shit” and Vettel used the words “fuck up” in David Coulthard’s podium interview.
Vettel wonders over the fuss the matter caused and he critisized the double standards that are general in media.
“I don’t see any problem with it. The sport lives through emotions, we are not robots,” Vettel commented on the swearing-fuss.
“On one hand we are accused of not having character, but then when someone talks like that, drinks beer or smokes a cigarette we are immediately barked at.”
- The word travels immediately through the whole world, internet needs more filling all the time. It seems irrelevant which of the things are true and which aren’t, the main thing is that something new is written and that it puts enough people in motion.
One of the highlights of last year was, of course, the magnificent comeback of Kimi Räikkönen. A true champion, a natural talent, came back to F1 after spending 2 years in WRC and having completed two NASCAR races, and took the 3rd spot in the drivers’ championship with Lotus F1.
Kimi made his first appearance in F1 with Sauber, in testing at Mugello, on September 12th 2000 with a Sauber C19. The other drivers that concluded at that 3-day long test were Schumacher and Badoer with Ferrari, Panis with McLaren and Diniz with Sauber. But how did this test happen, how did Sauber pick Kimi up? MTV3 caught up with the man who made the test happen, none other than Kimi’s first engineer at the test and further his race engineer Jacky Eeckelaert…
The test came at the time Sauber was looking for a newyoung driver to replace Mika Salo who signed for Toyota. So Eeckelaert contacted Steve and David Robertson who looked after Jenson Button. Button had impressed the insiders and people who were watching young go-karters, at the age when racing drivers are focusing solely on their driving, without the distraction of other commitments. People often forget that it’s not all about speed, it’s not about if a driver is fast or not. This critical age is a key, since many other factors had to be taken into consideration to pick out the most important ones, like if a driver can cope with difficulties and how committed he is finding a solution to a problem he might come across. (more…)
Q: Kimi is a unique personality who likes to do his own thing. How difficult is that to control and implement into the team?
EB: You clearly have to draw a line. To be honest he is not difficult to manage, but you have to make the engineers understand and respect his way of thinking and behaving. He is delivering, so he gets the respect easily.
Q: So when he says on the team radio ‘Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing’ you have to just trust him?
EB: Yes, you have to have a lot of trust! (laughs) On top of being Kimi – the character that we know – he did cleverly build his system. It takes some time until he gets up to speed, but he is delivering because he knows that probably his strongest asset is race craft. And little by little over the course of the year he adjusted all the parameters to make himself fast, strong and in a position to deliver – the Kimi we like! He might have his moments sometimes, but it is up to us to adjust what we want to achieve to his style rather than the reverse. I probably prefer to switch the team to the style of Kimi.
Q: So is it a case of ‘King Kimi’ at Lotus?
EB: No, because at the same time I don’t want to have a spoiled character who is probably leading the team in the wrong direction. We are not servicing his moods. We are just making sure that he can be himself. This is a big difference.
Remember Mark Arnall? He was Kimi Raikkonen’s trainer on the World Rally Championship for two years from 2010-2011, responsible for keeping the Iceman fed, watered, happy and in tip-top shape
It wasn’t always an easy job as Raikkonen is a demanding taskmaster. Plus, Mark knew very little about rallying before Raikkonen made the jump, although he’s been in Formula One since the days of Mika Hakkinen.
After Hakkinen retired, Mark swapped one Iceman for another. And last year, Mark returned with Raikkonen to Formula One, helping him to achieve the fitness and frame of mind that instantly took him to third in the championship last year.
This season, Raikkonen is aiming to go even better. And Mark will still be alongside him – except with not so many early starts and roaming around the countryside as his rally days. But he’s certainly not ruling out coming back if Raikkonen wants another go…
Because it doesn’t matter what Raikkonen drives. The more Mark has got to know his world champion boss, the more he realises that he can drive anything. He’s watched him drive Formula One cars, rally cars, NASCARs, Le Mans cars, snowmobiles, powerboats…the lot basically.
“He can adapt exceptionally quickly to whatever he is driving or riding and has a phenomenal feel for what’s going on underneath him,” points out Mark. “You saw that in rallying and you can see it when he drives on a new circuit for the first time and picks it up quicker than team mates who have spent hours on a simulator. Or when he comes back to Formula One after two years away from the sport and performs the way he just has done in 2012.”
Those two seasons in rallying clearly kept the Iceman sharp: and he’s keen to be back at some point, as soon as his Formula One contract allows (he asked to do Finland last year, they said no). Expect Mark to be right behind him.
Lotus technical director James Allison believes his team’s driver line-up will prove to be its “trump card” in 2013.
Lotus unveiled its striking new E21 challenger at Enstone on Monday and Allison is certain that Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean will do the new machine justice.
“By far and away the biggest trump card we have to play this year is that we have got two drivers who start the year [in strong shape],” Allison told AUTOSPORT.
“One of them [Raikkonen] had a brilliant season last year and really got up to speed quite swiftly and no-one would deny that in the last half of the year his driving was absolutely top drawer stuff.
Team principal Eric Boullier described his line-up as “the best pair of drivers that you can have on paper” and sees Raikkonen as its best shot for the title at the start of the season.
“He is definitely the lead driver in the team, even though they have equal status and both cars are technically very similar,” Boullier told AUTOSPORT.
“Kimi is the natural fit to be the lead driver, but then we will see how the season develops.”