| Source: autosport.com |
Kimi Raikkonen will drive for Lotus in the young driver test at Silverstone next week, after being drafted in to help work on Pirelli’s new tyres.
With race drivers being allowed to run on one of the scheduled three days, Lotus has called on Raikkonen to help provide input on the new tyre construction that will be introduced from the Hungarian Grand Prix.
The Finn will drive on the Friday, with Lotus also running Nicolas Prost on the Wednesday and Davide Valsecchi on the Thursday.
Alan Permane, Lotus’s trackside operations director, believes that the three-day test from July 17-19 was vital for his team as it prepared for the second half of the campaign.
“This will be an interesting test and we have a lot planned across the three days,” he said. “Obviously we want to give all three drivers the maximum track time possible as well as assessing the latest upgrades to the car.
“Our aim on the third day will be to help Pirelli understand the latest changes to their tyres at the same venue where they most notably had issues this season.”
He added: “Kimi is also allowed to run, enabling him and other race drivers to test tyres for Pirelli. This will benefit both him and Romain by granting us a better understanding of these tyres before we head to the next event in Hungary.”
After challenging Sebastian Vettel hard for the win in Bahrain a fortnight ago, Raikkonen sees no reason why his outfit cannot secure a place on the top step of the podium if it gets its act together.
“The car feels good everywhere we’ve been so far,” said Raikkonen, in a team preview issued on Friday.
“I am here to race and I race to win. That is the target for me and the team. We want to win grands prix. We have a good car and we saw in Bahrain it is good enough to win. That’s the target.”
Raikkonen is under no illusions how close things are at the front of the grid, but he is sure Lotus can build on its double podium finish from Bahrain.
Reflecting on the positives from the Sakhir weekend, Raikkonen said: “I never had any doubts in myself and it is clear we have a good car so in some ways the podium could have come sooner.
“We had the car already in the first three races to be up there, but we made some small mistakes and it cost us a lot. I would have been much happier if we had managed to get the victory, but nevertheless it’s a good result and the team deserved it for all their hard work. We have been good in every race so far, so hopefully we will be regular visitors to the podium this season.”
He added: “I expect Lotus to be very competitive at Barcelona. It’s going to be very, very close between the top teams. This is the only circuit where the teams have already tested with the new cars, and the set up is crucial as the track changes with the wind and temperature. All the teams have updates for the first European race, which makes it even more interesting and even tighter at the top.”
Raikkonen also reckons his absence from last week’s Mugello test will not hamper him at all in terms of extracting the most from the Lotus car.
“We didn’t have any major new parts to test and we don’t race at Mugello so I was not crying when it was decided that I wouldn’t test,” he said. “I know the track well but there was no need for me to drive. I am here to race and that is what I will do in Barcelona.”
Lotus has scrapped plans for Kimi Raikkonen to test at Mugello this week, because of the unpredictable weather conditions that have greeted the teams.
The Enstone-based outfit, fresh from its double podium finish in the Bahrain Grand Prix, had originally scheduled Raikkonen to run on Wednesday with Romain Grosjean driving on the final day.
However, due to complications caused by the day one washout, Lotus has elected to use Grosjean for the final two days so it has a consistent baseline to work through its testing programme with.
Alan Permane, trackside operations director, said: “We’ve opted for one driver for the next two days so we can make better use of the time after losing this afternoon’s running.”
Jerome d’Ambrosio will have his first taste of the Lotus E20 on the opening day of next week’s Mugello Formula 1 test.
The Lotus reserve driver, who raced for Virgin last season but was unable to find a seat for 2012, has not driven since last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix, except for a filming run in February in a 2010 Renault. The Belgian is scheduled to start work in the Lotus simulator on Tuesday ahead of his first taste of the new car on May 1.
Kimi Raikkonen is scheduled to drive on the second day of the test, with Romain Grosjean taking over the Lotus on May 3. (more…)
Source: turunsanomat.fi by Heikki Kulta | Translation courtesy of Nicole
Kimi Räikkönen shrugged off the rest of his rust and goes to the F1-races as the fastest driver in the winter test.
Turun Sanomat got to interview Räikkönen as the only media after his last testing day and I can assure you that a blissfully happy man lazed on the VIP-premises couch.
The qualification-stint proved to all doubters that Räikkönen’s speed is what it used to be.
The race length again got the driver satisfied and the opponents practically bursted in praisal. Luca Colajanni decided that Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa will not comment on the car anymore this weekend.
Colajanni himself surprised the Finnish reporters by assuring that Räikkönen could win in Australia – the same way he won with Ferrari in 2007.
When I asked if he said it seriously or just for fun, Luca assured that he believes just as much in Kimi’s chances to win the opening race as he believes in Ferrari not being able to win the opening race. Since I know, that based upon all data information Ferrari doesn’t have any chance in Australia, Kimi is then possibly hiding big chances to win on a track where he has been 4 times earlier on the podium.
We re-lived with Colajanni those unforgettable moments when Räikkönen became Ferrari’s last WDC in 2007, Brazil. Keeping those memories in mind, Luca adviced me to prepare myself for an even better assurance in the opening race, so my heart that was operated three years ago wouldn’t be too strained from anticipating a victory.
Kimi Räikkönen started and ended this year’s F1 -winter tests the same way. On the first day in Jerez he whipped his Lotus to the top time and in the final testing in Barcelona he coughed out the fastest lap time of the whole testing season.
Usually a car that is fast in Barcelona is also fast everywhere else.
“That’s how it has been. This is quite a challenging spot,” Räikkönen admitted to Turun Sanomat.
Actually they followed the top teams’ race simulations during the final day instead of qualification speed. Even there Lotus kept their ground well.
Räikkönen drove first 12 laps with a soft compound, then 24 laps with a harder and in the end 16 laps with a soft compound.
Out of those who drove the race lenght at the same time, Räikkönen could do better than Ferrar’s Fernando Alonso. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was a couple of tenths ahead with softer compounds but with hard compounds Lotus was just as fast.
All and all Räikkönen worked almost two GP-lenghts on Sunday because he made 121 laps.
Lotus had to leave one testing week unused. Hence Räikkönen lost two driving days. All and all he had time to drive 1598 km with the new E20-car or 1694 km if you also add the so called filming day.
How ready are you now for the opening race?
“It doesn’t get any better no matter how much I would drive. The car gets new parts and of course we could have tried them out. However I don’t believe that it would had changed how ready I am for Australia,” Räikkönen thought.
Sunday was a really good day for Lotus and Räikkönen. Although the man was tired after the hard working the catch of the day gave him the best feelings.
Everyone in the Lotus-camp had a big contented smile when they shipped the machinery back home to Enstone and from there to the opening race next week.
“It was an all right day because there was no problems. We got everything in place right from the morning and the car is working just as it is supposed to work.”
Times with a full tank were very strong but in the end there was no more speed with an empty tank.
“It was just so cold. The left front tyre peels away. When I overtook a few it seemed like everybody had the same thing. The tyre starts to peel off and when it peels the rubber goes away. When it peels this much the heat vanishes.
“For as long as that didn’t happen the car was pretty good. After that it just didn’t work anymore. When the heat drops you can’t get it back anymore,” Räikkönen told Turun Sanomat.
“I guess quite many drove with a reasonably low amount of fuel. However you don’t get any picture of that. For some it works better,for some worse. It depends a lot on the track too I suppose.”
Kimi Raikkonen ensured that Lotus finished pre-season Formula 1 testing on top as nobody was able to beat his morning time on the final afternoon at Barcelona.
Most of the field spent the afternoon focusing on race simulations, meaning that Raikkonen’s 1m22.030s lap, set inside the final 20 minutes of the morning, was unlikely to come under fire.
The Lotus driver’s race simulation was among the most impressive of the day as he completed a 65-lap run on four sets of Pirelli tyres; three soft, one hard. During these stints he suffered performance drop-off of no more than 1.8s on any given set of tyres.
While his drop-off figures were the best of the race simulations, his overall pace was still shy of Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren, which seemed to have a 0.2s advantage on any given lap of a stint.
Today's times: Pos--Driver--------Team------------Time---------------Laps 1. Raikkonen Lotus 1m22.030s 121 2. Alonso Ferrari 1m22.250s +0.220 115 3. Senna Williams 1m22.296s +0.266 53 4. Hulkenberg Force India 1m22.312s +0.282 101 5. Kobayashi Sauber 1m22.386s +0.356 72 6. Hamilton McLaren 1m22.430s +0.400 115 7. Petrov Caterham 1m22.795s +0.765 101 8. Schumacher Mercedes 1m22.939s +0.909 100 9. Maldonado Williams 1m23.347s +1.317 48 10. Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m23.393s +1.363 100 11. Vettel Red Bull 1m23.608s +1.578 23
Morning times: Pos--Driver--------Team------------Time-------------Laps 1. Raikkonen Lotus 1m22.030s 41 2. Alonso Ferrari 1m22.250s +0.220 63 3. Senna Williams 1m22.296s +0.266 53 4. Hulkenberg Force India 1m22.312s +0.282 45 5. Kobayashi Sauber 1m22.386s +0.356 56 6. Hamilton McLaren 1m22.430s +0.400 60 7. Petrov Caterham 1m22.795s +0.765 43 8. Schumacher Mercedes 1m22.939s +0.909 57 9. Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m23.393s +1.363 53 10. Vettel Red Bull 1m23.608s +1.578 15
Kimi Räikkönen, Lotus F1 Team Race Driver:
“I was happy with today’s running. We didn’t have any major issues so it was certainly better than yesterday. Everything worked, we tried a lot of set-ups on the car and it all came together well. It was a long time in the car today but I feel fine. It was cooler today so the tyres didn’t work as well as otherwise but everything was okay. Of course, the fastest time at the end of the day looks good but no-one will know how fast any of the cars are until we get to qualifying at Albert Park. All the changes we have made over testing have been improving the car, so we’ll have to see what happens in Melbourne in a couple of weeks’ time. I’m feeling positive.”
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director:
“We’ve had a good, productive day to conclude our pre-season test programme. After the interruptions of yesterday we made some set-up changes overnight which immediately made Kimi feel more comfortable in the car as the balance was much more to his liking. We then spent the rest of the morning running on medium and then soft tyres, steadily improving the car. Despite having missed a test we are in good shape heading to Melbourne. We’ve completed two race distances and the E20 has proved reliable, easy to set-up and predictable in its handling with both drivers reporting they are happy.”
Eric Boullier,Team Principal:
“After the disappointment of last week, this test was crucial and I think we did a good job. First of all, we’ve been able to confirm that the changes made to the car fixed our front suspension problems. We were confident that the redesign was well conceived and well executed, but we have demonstrated the integrity of the modified part. It is a tribute to the all team, which has been working amazingly hard over the last few days in order to fly the E20 on time to Barcelona. Despite the rain and a few technical glitches, we managed to learn more about the new car. We now have a better understanding of it, and have a few positive setup directions that we can take further. Moreover, both drivers seem happy with the balance and tyre degradation. We are cautiously optimistic for the future and now looking forward to Melbourne.”
“Raikkonen has been out doing a race simulation run, and if you compute his lap times on that back to his fastest lap this morning, it looks like he had a maximum of 20kg of fuel in to do that 1:22.0. His race run has been pretty consistent. He ran soft tyres and then medium, while Lewis Hamilton out at the same time in the McLaren ran soft-soft. Hamilton was a little quicker but had more drop-off – Raikkonen lost 1.3secs over a stint, while Hamilton lost 2secs and 2.4secs. The Lotus looks like it’s doing a decent job, the car looks balanced and Raikkonen has always been good at banging in the lap times.”
Click here for the full test gallery: Today’s photos:
Kimi Räikkönen answered some of the many journalists’ questions during the last Formula 1 tests in Barcelona. He talked about his expectations for 2012, his Lotus Renault teammate Romain Grosjean, pitstops and his personal goals. Read the interview below or listen to the mp3.
How does the car feel now in Barcelona compare to Jerez?
Kimi Räikkönen: Beside the facts of all the issues we had, it was pretty much what I thought it will be. It did OK. Then it started to rain, and we didnt have the rain tyres. We should have still some parts coming for the first race. Than we are on a different surface, different conditions, but the feeling is more or less the same. We didnt get that much done today. Tomorrow we will try things that we know if we dont try it now we will not have the time to try it in the whole year – because it takes a long time to change it. I try to get some understandings on those few things, so at least there will be the knowledge why we are not in the races.
Do you have any personal objectives for Australia?
Räikkönen: We try to do what we can and see where we end up. As with the first race always, you just try to get the good way and come out without any problems.
So, Q3 would be a good starting point?
Räikkönen: I dont know now where we are gonna be. Nobody knows. If you look at the lap times, everybody is close to each other. But then the fuel load makes a big difference. So we will know in two weeks. I think from Melbourne in the practice you get some ideas. After Qualifying everybody knows exactly where they stand…
How is the work with the engineers, are you already comfortable?
Räikkönen: We are still learning, everything goes in small steps – but we have no problems. It is what it is, you have to deal with it. At least the first week we had three good runs. And I dont think we have any major reliability issues in the car, and thats the good thing. We had one problem last week. That is fixed, and its no problem anymore. I am pretty confident, that we do alright when its time.
Your teammate is very fast. Does that give you hope that you can be close to the top teams?
Räikkönen: As I said, I dont know. There is no point in guessing here if we can or cannot. We might be last, or we might be first. Who knows? If you look at the times today, I dont know who is gonna be the fastest, nobody probably knows. I am not worried about that. We try to do our things and in Melbourne everybody will see who is where.
What are your impressions of your teammate?
Räikkönen: He’s a nice guy. I didnt know him before. We raced against each other a few times. For him its also a long time ago, since he raced in the Formula 1, I think it will be good.
How are your feelings, thinking that in two weeks you are back in the race?
Räikkönen: Well, its nice! I mean everybody is here for racing, its the main thing. If you ask the testdrivers – they wanna race, they dont wanna test. I mean racing is the thing that people like, I dont think that any of the guys will tell you that testing is more fun than racing. Of course, my racing has changed a bit, since I was there at that time. But its not completely different from the sport. It will be exciting.
Are you already comfortable with all the new procedures, the start, the DRS system?
Räikkönen: Sometimes you push the wrong button, but that happens. Its not gonna change the world. Sometimes you press it too light, or too early, but its not gonna change an awful lot. Pitstops are a bit shorter than before, but not so different. Like I said, it wouldnt hurt to have more time to test, but this will not happen. It will be OK in the first race.
Kimi, have you set any personal goals for this Formula 1 season?
Räikkönen: No. We will see where we are in the first races and go from there. We do the best that we can.
Kimi Raikkonen says he is not concerned about having missed out on a lot of pre-season testing mileage and still has confidence in Lotus’s reliability.
Today was the returnee’s first day on track since 8 February as Lotus had to withdraw from last week’s Barcelona test due to a chassis issue, and Raikkonen’s first session back in the car was then disrupted by steering problems, limiting him to 43 laps.
“The power steering just didn’t work. It was the same system as yesterday but it just decided not to work today,” Raikkonen explained.
“We tried to fix it, we thought that there was some small issue that we could fix, they tried to do it and unfortunately those things take a long time to do and it still didn’t work as it should and we had to change the whole system, which takes another one and a half hours. It takes a long time. It wasn’t perfect still [afterwards], but it was OK.”
The Finn denied that the lack of running would be a major issue for Lotus, and said he still had complete faith in the team.
“I guess you always wish to have more days, but it is what it is and you have to deal with it,” Raikkonen said.
“At least in the first week we had very good running and I don’t think we have any major reliability issues in the car so I think that’s a good thing. We had one problem last week – that’s fixed and there are not going to be any more issues.
“Now it’s just to get things on a level where you think you’re happy and you know to press the right buttons at the right time. Maybe a few more days wouldn’t hurt but I’m very confident that we will get it right.”
He does not feel like the lost mileage has hampered his efforts to readjust to Formula 1 after two years away in rallying either.
“We’re still learning things but everything is going smoothly and there are no problems,” he said.
Click here for full gallery: Post-test press photos:
“A couple more laps for the Iceman as he assesses the steering. We’re working on getting everything just as Kimi wants it.”
“Just changing the steering column. Kimi wasn’t happy with how it felt, the team are working flat out to get him back on track”
“Kimi was much more comfortable with the steering on the last run. All sorted now, plenty of work to do this afternoon”
Lotus F1 Team had a curtailed day of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona today, with steering issues in the morning and rain in the afternoon limiting track time to 43 laps.
Kimi was at the wheel of the E20 in Barcelona for the first time today as the final week of pre-season testing nears its conclusion.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for the Finnish driver though, as investigations into a power steering issue which eventually lead to a steering rack change ruled out the majority of running time during the morning.
Coupled with a sudden outburst of rain later in the day, the team was restricted to a short window in which to rack up the laps. Nonetheless Kimi was pleased to be back at the wheel, and is looking forward to putting some distance under his wheels tomorrow:
Kimi: “It was good to get in the E20 after missing testing last week. We had an issue with the power steering in the morning then we didn’t run in the wet, so it was quite a short time for me in the car today. At least we got some runs. The car was reliable when on track meaning we gained some good data for the team. Hopefully the weather will be better tomorrow and we can complete more laps.”
Despite the stop-start nature of the day, Trackside Operations Director Alan Permane was pleased with the improvement in balance shown from the E20 over the course of the session, which will give the team valuable data heading into the final run here in Spain tomorrow:
“Aside from the time we lost early on it was clear that we were running a different programme from the other teams today. We were hampered by power steering issues in the morning, which took some time to rectify. Once on track, we steadily improved the car balance through the day. We opted not to run in the rain which meant we completed fewer laps today than would otherwise have been the case.”
Kimi will complete the final day of pre-season testing tomorrow, working on both car set-up and a race simulation. Weather permitting, the session will begin at 09:00 local time.
TODAY'S TIMES: Pos--Driver--------Team------------Time--------------Laps 1. Perez Sauber 1m22.094s 114 2. Button McLaren 1m22.103s +0.009 44 3. Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m22.155s +0.061 131 4. Massa Ferrari 1m22.413s +0.319 122 5. Di Resta Force India 1m22.446s +0.352 108 6. Senna Williams 1m22.480s +0.386 111 7. Kovalainen Caterham 1m22.630s +0.536 64 8. Webber Red Bull 1m22.662s +0.568 70 9. Rosberg Mercedes 1m22.932s +0.838 129 10. Raikkonen Lotus 1m25.379s +3.285 43 MORNING TIMES: Pos--Driver--------Team------------Time--------------Laps 1. Perez Sauber 1m22.094s 49 2. Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m22.155s +0.061 50 3. Massa Ferrari 1m22.413s +0.319 48 4. Di Resta Force India 1m22.446s +0.352 45 5. Senna Williams 1m22.480s +0.386 36 6. Kovalainen Caterham 1m22.630s +0.536 44 7. Webber Red Bull 1m22.662s +0.568 46 8. Rosberg Mercedes 1m22.932s +0.838 63 9. Button McLaren 1m23.409s +1.315 17 10. Raikkonen Lotus 1m25.620s +3.526 17
Romain Grosjean has become the first driver to go fastest on two separate days in pre-season Formula 1 testing, topping the times on the second day in Barcelona.
Having been third fastest in the morning session, Grosjean was busy after lunch, completing a full 60-lap race simulation in the Lotus, using Pirelli’s soft and hard compounds.
He backed that up with a series of fast laps, setting the benchmark time of 1m22.614s with just minutes remaining, on a set of soft tyres.
Jean-Eric Vergne ended the day second, despite not completing a flying lap following the lunch break. The Toro Rosso stopped and briefly caught fire with an engine problem right before lunch in Barcelona, bringing out the red flag.
While a full race simulation was planned for the afternoon session, the STR7 didn’t appear again until within half an hour of the session’s end, and was restricted to pitstop practice.
Neither Vergne nor Grosjean will be back in their respective cars for the rest of the test, with Daniel Ricciardo set to take over for Toro Rosso tomorrow, and Kimi Raikkonen jumping into the Lotus.
Today's times: Pos--Driver--------Team------------Time--------------Laps 1. Grosjean Lotus 1m22.614s 123 2. Vergne Toro Rosso 1m23.126s +0.512 31 3. Vettel Red Bull 1m23.361s +0.747 85 4. Alonso Ferrari 1m23.447s +0.833 124 5. Kovalainen Caterham 1m23.828s +1.214 104 6. Kobayashi Sauber 1m23.836s +1.222 77 7. Hulkenberg Force India 1m23.893s +1.279 33 8. Schumacher Mercedes 1m23.978s +1.364 79 9. Hamilton McLaren 1m24.111s +1.497 65 10. Senna Williams 1m24.925s +2.311 48 11. Maldonado Williams 1m25.801s +3.187 20
In the morning Lotus driver Romain Grosjean was third fastest, another tenth down on Alonso. He was running a programme that concentrated on set-ups and aerodynamic work.
Morning times: Pos--Driver--------Team------------Time-------------Laps 1. Vergne Toro Rosso 1m23.126s 31 2. Alonso Ferrari 1m23.447s +0.321 35 3. Grosjean Lotus 1m23.528s +0.402 34 4. Vettel Red Bull 1m23.536s +0.410 37 5. Kovalainen Caterham 1m23.828s +0.702 34 6. Hulkenberg Force India 1m23.893s +0.767 33 7. Hamilton McLaren 1m24.111s +0.985 30 8. Schumacher Mercedes 1m24.663s +1.537 19 9. Maldonado Williams 1m25.801s +2.675 20 10. Kobayashi Sauber 1m26.111s +2.985 35
“Not at all, nothing really different,” said Grosjean. “It doesn’t change much. Exactly the same good feeling as in Jerez, we can push and we can trust the car – and you can really play with it, which is enjoyable.
“When you have a problem you are a little bit wondering what is going on, so we checked all day long that everything was fine – but I knew what we needed to do to repair the car and make it strong, and when we left we got much stronger.
“You can trust the car and push it to the limit,” said the Frenchman. “If you push a little bit too much you know what is going on next, and this is really good when you are driving the car.
“You push hard and it understeers in the fast corners, then if you push a little bit harder there will be a little bit more understeer. But what is not coming is that you have a snap from somewhere and you don’t understand what is going on, which is not really nice when you are driving.
“This car is really good on that aspect, and you can get quite easily on the paper a good laptime.”
Kimi arrived in Barcelona with a guest and watched the test from the garage:
Romain Grosjean made sure Lotus’ return to testing was a positive one by going fastest on day one of the final pre-season Formula 1 test in Barcelona.
The Frenchman waited until there was less than 30 minutes remaining for the day before he set the benchmark time of 1m23.252s, using a set of Pirelli’s soft tyres to eclipse Jenson Button’s fastest time from the morning’s session.
Faster times were a rarity in the afternoon sessions, with teams opting to use the stable track conditions to go for longer runs. Grosjean was one of only two drivers to improve after lunch, the other being Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber.
However, Webber was only able to shave a tenth off his best morning time, leaving him behind Button and Perez – both with morning times – in fourth for the day.
Behind Webber it was Nico Rosberg, the Mercedes driver the busiest of the day with 128 laps for the day, mostly completed over long stints. Jean-Eric Vergne was sixth fastest, with Toro Rosso dedicating much of the last hour to pitstop practice.
Felipe Massa had a busy afternoon, eventually completing 105 laps for the day, despite a lengthy stay in the pits after lunch. However, his best time was only good enough for eighth.
Vitaly Petrov, subbing for the ill Heikki Kovalainen, was the second busiest man of the day, putting the new Caterham through 123 laps.
His reward was avoiding the bottom of the time sheets, with Petrov ending the day 0.711s clear of Pastor Maldonado, the Williams driver completing the least number of laps for the day with just 58.
Testing resumes tomorrow at Barcelona.
Today's times: Pos--Driver--------Team------------Time-------------Laps 1. Grosjean Lotus 1m23.252s 73 2. Button McLaren 1m23.510s +0.258 64 3. Perez Sauber 1m23.820s +0.568 118 4. Webber Red Bull 1m23.830s +0.578 102 5. Rosberg Mercedes 1m23.992s +0.740 128 6. Vergne Toro Rosso 1m24.216s +0.964 113 7. Di Resta Force India 1m24.305s +1.053 98 8. Massa Ferrari 1m24.318s +1.066 105 9. Petrov Caterham 1m24.876s +1.624 123 10. Maldonado Williams 1m25.587s +2.335 58
13:09 Our man on the ground @NobleF1 brings us some news on Lotus: Good news for Kimi fans. Lotus boss Eric Boullier says front suspension issue is now finished; updates working fine.
(From live commentary)
Morning times: Pos--Driver--------Team------------Time--------------Laps 1. Button McLaren 1m23.510s 27 2. Perez Sauber 1m23.820s +0.310 57 3. Grosjean Lotus 1m23.959s +0.449 36 4. Rosberg Mercedes 1m23.992s +0.482 57 5. Webber Red Bull 1m23.993s +0.483 53 6. Vergne Toro Rosso 1m24.216s +0.706 61 7. Di Resta Force India 1m24.305s +0.795 48 8. Massa Ferrari 1m24.318s +0.808 45 9. Petrov Caterham 1m24.876s +1.366 67 10. Maldonado Williams 1m25.587s +2.077 37
Romain Grosjean will hit the track for the Thursday/Friday sessions, with Kimi Räikkönen taking the wheel on Saturday/Sunday. Both drivers are raring to get out onto the circuit and show their skills, with third driver Jérôme D’Ambrosio in close attendance around the garage picking up on all the details from the drivers and engineers.
As always there are a host of partners and guests flowing in and out of the team motorhome, along with a swarm of media hoping to catch a few moments with the biggest names in world motorsport. It seems it’s not just the drivers who will be going flat out here in Barcelona!
The first priority this morning is to complete a number of aero runs, followed shortly by a return to regular setup work. This is where all the efforts of the team back at Enstone who have worked tirelessly over the past week will come to fruition, and we can’t wait to get started.
Lotus must make the most of its final pre-season test at Barcelona in Spain this week if it is to capitalise on the promising form of its car, reckons team boss Eric Boullier.
With the outfit being forced to pull out of last week’s test at Barcelona because of a front suspension issue, and having plans to make up for that time with a run at Silverstone next week now scuppered, the pressure is on to ensure it has a perfect next few days of running.
“Obviously we want to have the same reliability that we showed in Jerez and do the maximum mileage we can,” Boullier told AUTOSPORT ahead of its revised E20 taking to the track at Barcelona on Thursday.
“We will never catch back these four days we lost, but we need to make the best of these four days coming up in front of us to make sure that we do well.”
Boullier says there is some encouragement from the fact that Lotus showed so well in the first test in Jerez, but he knows that what really matters is how its updated car compares to the opposition.
“In Jerez the reliability was good and the pace was good, but it means nothing too much because it was the first test,” he said. “We have a lot of upgrades coming for the car like the others, for the test and for the first race, so let’s see now.
“But definitely the basis was good, and the drivers were happy with the handling of the car. The car had a good balance so it was a good start.”
Boullier has denied talk that the front suspension issue was the result of the outfit having tried to push too hard to take weight off its design – a theory backed up by the fact that the revised suspension components are 1kg heavier.
“No, no, no, it was nothing like this,” he explained. “There was a small deviation between design simulation and one component we had on the car, and obviously with the fitting of this mount on the front – we were not happy with the results. We decided for many reasons to focus on redesigning it and redoing it, and to get rid of this.”
Boullier also said his team accepted the decision of the FIA not to allow his outfit to test for an extra day next week – because the governing body believed it would be a breach of rules that prevent running in the week ‘preceding’ the first event.
“I think we had a different interpretation [of the rules],” explained Boullier. “The teams agreed that we could go for another day next week, but the FIA came back to us and said we cannot – so that is the end of the story.”
Source: iltasanomat.fi | Translation courtesy of reppo
Kimi Raikkonen is said to be tight-lipped. Lotus test driver Jerome d’Ambrosio confirms the claim.
“Yes, he does not talk much, but when he speaks, it is always something important. Otherwise he is a nice guy. First meeting went well.”
Romain Grosjean is pleased that he has a good relationship with his Lotus teammate, 2007 Formula 1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen.
The Frenchman will make his return to Formula 1 after a stint with the Renault team in 2009, where he was teamed up with double world champion Fernando Alonso.
After missing the previous winter test in Barcelona because of a chassis problem, Grosjean will be back on track this week for the last two days of testing before the season opener in Melbourne.
“It’s going very well. We met in December at the factory, then during the tests in February. The idea is to work hand in hand with my teammate to develop the team in the best way possible. Kimi is a good asset,” said Grosjean to French website RMC Sport regarding his relationship with Raikkonen.
“He is still very good. He was F1 world champion in 2007 and he returns this year with Lotus. I hope we will do very good things this season. Is he also a competitor? There are 24 drivers on the grid, you have to beat 23 of them (laughs). Anyone who participates in a competition wants to win. An athlete who says he wants to go the Olympic games to be fifth is lying. Everybody wants to win. When you’re in the car, the idea is to beat everyone else,” added Grosjean.
James, what happened to the E20 in Barcelona last week?
We arrived in Barcelona with a brand new chassis, the E20-02. We completed installation laps on Tuesday morning then Romain left the pits for his first run of the day. As soon as he touched the brakes before turn 1 on his first flying lap, he felt that something was wrong. He told us on the radio that he was aborting that run and returning straight to the pits.
What did you discover when the car got back to the garage?
We saw immediately that we had a problem with the mounting of the upper front wishbone rear arm.
What were your thoughts at that time?
We were using chassis 02 for the first time, so our initial reaction was to consider the possibility of a manufacturing issue affecting that particular chassis. We made the decision to take chassis 01 – which had run successfully in Jerez – from the UK to Barcelona. Before we sent it, we launched an investigation programme at Enstone to ensure there was no risk of a similar issue. Unfortunately, our investigations concluded that there was a possibility of the same problem reoccurring. We then decided, quite reluctantly, to cancel the test and make the necessary changes to both our chassis before running again.
How did the factory react?
It’s been an intense few days, but I have to say that everybody has completed their tasks in tremendous fashion. On the first day back at the factory, I spoke to the entire Enstone personnel and clearly explained what happened. Everybody understood that the situation was unfortunate, but under control. We designed the new parts, manufactured them, and fitted them to the chassis. We then completed the necessary tests satisfactorily and the chassis left for Spain.
Are you confident about the repair?
Does it mean that the chassis is now heavier than before?
Yes, but we’re only talking about 1kg, which is manageable. It won’t have any significant impact on handling or performance.
Did the chassis have to pass a new crash test?
No. It wasn’t necessary.
Which chassis will the team use this week?
We’ll use chassis 01 this week, while chassis 02 will be used as a spare from now on. We’re currently finishing chassis 03, with the new design implemented.
The team missed four days of testing. Is it a big setback?
Of course, missing four days of testing is not ideal. We need mileage at this stage of the year, as does any other team. That said, there are reasons to remain optimistic. First of all, we completed many trouble-free laps in Jerez and gained a good understanding of the car. Also, some of the small issues we identified in Jerez needed to be fixed, and the parts were not available last week. On Thursday, the car will run with all the required redesigned parts. We’re looking forward to being back on track.
F1 teams have confirmed their driver line-up for the final test ahead of the new season.
The four-day test starts tomorrow at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.
Ten teams have confirmed they will be present with their 2012 F1 cars, including Lotus, who abandoned their running in last week’s test after discovering a problem with their E20 chassis.
Here is the full list of who will be driving:
|Team||Car||Thurs 1st||Fri 2nd||Sat 3rd||Sun 4th|
|Red Bull||RB8||Mark Webber||Sebastian Vettel||Mark Webber||Sebastian Vettel|
|McLaren||MP4-27||Jenson Button||Lewis Hamilton||Jenson Button||Lewis Hamilton|
|Ferrari||F2012||Felipe Massa||Fernando Alonso||Felipe Massa||Fernando Alonso|
|Mercedes||W03||Nico Rosberg||Michael Schumacher||Nico Rosberg||Michael Schumacher|
|Lotus||E20||Romain Grosjean||Romain Grosjean||Kimi Raikkonen||Kimi Raikkonen|
|Force India||VJM05||Paul di Resta||Nico Hulkenberg||Paul di Resta||Nico Hulkenberg|
|Sauber||C31||Sergio Perez||Kamui Kobayashi||Sergio Perez||Kamui Kobayashi|
|Toro Rosso||STR7||Jean-Eric Vergne||Jean-Eric Vergne||Daniel Ricciardo||Daniel Ricciardo|
|Williams||FW34||Pastor Maldonado||Bruno Senna/Pastor Maldonado||Pastor Maldonado/Bruno Senna||Bruno Senna|
|Caterham||CT01||Heikki Kovalainen||Heikki Kovalainen||Vitaly Petrov||Vitaly Petrov|
The Enstone team has applied for permission to have an extra day on track, which would require unanimous consent from the other teams.
AUTOSPORT understands that Lotus already has the required agreement from the majority of teams and given that Mercedes was granted an extra day before this week’s Barcelona test after only running for three days in Jerez two weeks ago, it is likely to get permission.
The test is expected to take place on February 27, before the final Barcelona test, which runs from March 1-4, but sources indicate that the team is confident that it will have its chassis ready after making modifications to solve a problem believed to be related to the front suspension.
Lotus has pulled out of the Barcelona test with immediate effect as a result of the problems it encountered with its chassis this morning.
The team has decided to abandon running in order to fully understand the problem with the chassis that manifested itself on chassis 2, which ran for the first time today.
This is despite chassis 1 completing the full Jerez test two weeks ago. The team said the problem requires modification to both chassis.
The car completed 1788 km of testing at Jerez, but the problem manifested itself at the higher-speed Barcelona configuration.
“Before we were due to fly chassis E20-01 out to Barcelona in replacement of chassis E20-02 – damaged this morning – we ran a series of simulations at the factory based on the data provided by our brief running on track today,” said technical director James Allison.
“As a result, we were able to identify an area which requires some additional work. It will be more productive for us to carry out these modifications to both chassis at Enstone rather than send E20-01 out to this week’s test. We’ll put the right measures in place and we will be able to fix the problem before next week.”
Team boss Eric Boullier added: “Not running this week has been a tough decision to take, but we feel that our choice is the right one. On the positive side, we have quickly identified the issue with the chassis and our design office has already devised a solution. We will be present at next week’s test in Barcelona.
“We draw faith from the fact that the E20 was quick out of the box in Jerez and showed its reliability there. We have a lot of work ahead of us over the next week but everyone at Enstone is ready for this challenge.”
Although the team has not revealed the exact nature of the chassis fault, AUTOSPORT understands it is in an area towards the front of the car.
AUTOSPORT’s technical correspondent Gary Anderson believes that the high lateral loads experienced at Barcelona played a key part in revealing the chassis fault that forced Lotus to abandon this week’s test.
Lotus ditched plans to run chassis 1 in place of the new monoque that ran briefly at Barcelona before Romain Grosjean complained of a ‘strange’ feeling.
Speaking to AUTOSPORT about the Lotus situation, Anderson said: “The aerodynamic loads on the car are higher in Barcelona than in Jerez, so that could explain why the problem didn’t manifest itself at Jerez.
“Reading between the lines, I would say it was likely to be something to do with a mount rather than the front suspension, as if it was a suspension problem you could have a good go at patching it up at the track with a glue injection and fastenings to hold it in situ.
“The fact that Lotus has pulled out of the whole test rather than going back to the factory to patch it up and then run later in the week suggests it’s a serious problem. Unless it is something that is too severe to fix so quickly or that you need to produce new parts to solve.”
Anderson believes that the confirmation that Lotus also detected a potential problem that will require modifications to chassis 1, which completed almost 1,000 miles of testing at Jerez two weeks ago, supports the hypothesis that it is related to an attachment.
“Lotus wasn’t as quick on the final day of that test, though, so maybe there was a little deterioration,” he said.
“Barcelona is a very different challenge. There was a pretty vicious bump around the start finish line in the past, so it’s possible this has caused a problem. Alternatively, it could be the long right-hander at Turn 3, where there is a huge amount of torsional stress on the chassis.
“It could also be that chassis 1 was used for the torsion and bending tests that a team would do and then chassis 2 did the crash tests. But as you wouldn’t push to the absolute limit to see how stiff the car was, the problem might have been hidden on chassis one.”
Lotus plans to make modifications to chassis 1 and chassis 2 to allow it to continue testing in the second Barcelona test that kicks off on March 1.
The team has not confirmed where exactly the problem on the chassis is, but one theory Anderson has is that it is related to the engine mounts.
“The mounts will be a solid insertion and could be made of carbon fibre, machined aluminium, titanium, all sorts of things. It’s basically to give a solid fastening,” he said.
“It’s the kind of thing that you can fix, ideally back at the factory in a controlled environment. But you could do that in one day so if they aren’t going to run this week, it suggests that they maybe need to do more than just inject glue and put fasteners in. So it could be a more dramatic problem and maybe it will need new chassis.
“Chassis 3 would likely be on its way for Melbourne and might be at the point in the manufacturing process where you could integrate the fix properly. If they did that, it’s possible that Lotus might have to have that chassis and one patched up one for Melbourne as it’s a tight turnaround to build a fourth chassis if it hasn’t started.”
Anderson adds that he feels the problem is more likely to be a manufacturing fault than a design error.
He also backed the team’s decision to pull out of the test.
“The engine specification and the mount positions won’t have changed with the Renault engine, so I doubt if there’s a design error,” he said. “There’s no point in re-inventing the wheel so it’s likely to be the same.
“If it is the engine mounts, then I would have thought that either an error in the material or with the bonding or something like that has caught them out instead. But if it’s, for example, a glue problem, then what starts as a small problem could become a big one because there might be 50 inserts all over the chassis.
“The problem isn’t a huge safety issue, but if the car feels strange, as Romain Grosjean says it did, then it’s only going to get worse.
“It’s a dramatic enough problem to wipe the test out, so it’s going to be interesting to see what happens from here.”
Full details of who will be driving and when during this week’s test at Barcelona, the second of three pre-season tests.
Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso, Schumacher, Grosjean, Hulkenberg, Perez, Ricciardo, Senna, Kovalainen and Pic.
Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso, Rosberg, Grosjean, Hulkenberg, Perez, Ricciardo, Bottas, Petrov and Pic.
Webber, Button, Massa, Schumacher, Raikkonen, di Resta, Kobayashi, Vergne, Maldonado, Petrov and Glock.
Webber, Button, Massa, Rosberg, Raikkonen, di Resta, Kobayashi, Vergne, Maldonado, Kovalainen and Pic.
Testing is from 09:00 to 17:00 (local time), with, unlike Jerez, an official break from 13:00 to 14:00 for lunch.
Since his arrival in Enstone, Kimi Raikkonen has been gradually winning over his team and giving them the motivational boost that was sorely missed after Robert Kubica’s tragic rallying accident prior to the start of the 2011 season.
“After the frustrations of 2011 and the loss of the model that we had built around Robert, the arrival of Kimi has been the secret to the galvanisation of the team. It has been a big boost,” said Lotus team principal Eric Boullier, in an interview with Autosport.
According to Boullier, Raikkonen’s presence and demeanour within the team has demonstrated that the Finn is capable of being the team leader, although not in the same mould of Kubica.
“Every driver is different and has their own character. Kimi is bringing a different kind of leadership to Robert. Firstly, there is his record. He has been the world champion but by being very clear and very consistent in what he wants, he has imposed himself as a leader in the team. People want to work for him and push for him,” said Boullier.
Raikkonen’s first visit to the Lotus factory in December for a tour of the facility and to attend the team’s Christmas party generated a palpable sense of excitement among the team’s employees.
“You can feel it when he is walking around the factory. Even before the announcement, people in the team were stopping me and asking about Kimi. His reputation preceded him in the factory. When he met with them [the team] at the Christmas party, he was friendly enough to spend time with people. Knowing that we have this guy, a world champion, with us is a big boost for the team and the motivation. You can see it in the way people react,” said Boullier.
Although Boullier has already confirmed that the Finn’s contract does not state that he is Lotus’ number one driver, Raikkonen is beginning to establish himself as the team’s de facto number one. Both Raikkonen and his team mate Romain Grosjean have been away from the Formula 1 grid for the past two seasons, but it was the 2007 world champion who was granted a private testing session in Valencia to re-acclimatise himself with a Formula 1 car and was chosen as the first person drive the Lotus E20 in Jerez after its launch, albeit only for filming purposes. Raikkonen was also assigned to do the first two days of official testing this week at Jerez.
Raikkonen began winning over the his team members as soon as he began working with them when he returned to the cockpit of a 2010-spec Renault R30 at Valencia’s Ricardo Tormo circuit in Spain.
“Very few people in the team knew Kimi but after the first running he did in the car, they started to understand how he worked. The charisma of the guy is strong. He is a racer, he loves competition, loves Formula 1 and racing,” added Boullier.
“You could feel that this is a guy who knows what he wants from the start. You get the respect and the credibility from the guys in the team if you deliver on the track. If you can give a clear indication of what you want, it pays off on both sides.”
According to Autosport columnist Edd Straw, the general consensus in the paddock during the Jerez test is that Raikkonen has not lost any of his speed after two years away from Formula 1.
“Raikkonen is still quick. He was clearly leaning on the car from early on and was easily the most exciting driver to watch during the first day, showing that he was eager to get on with it, despite the main priority of his programme being data collection and validation,” said Straw.
“That doesn’t mean that the Lotus/Raikkonen combination is necessarily going to be winning races, merely that the Finn was on it immediately and looks like he means business.”
Great anticipation surrounds the start of pre-season Formula 1 testing. With teams working from a blank canvas over the winter, there is no form book or established order. Instead there is unpredictability and expectation, great assets in any sport.
Everything must, of course, be measured against the well-beaten truism that testing can be misleading at best, and impossible to decipher at worst. Here’s how the four days at Jerez panned out…
As a number of teams officially unveiled their 2012 challengers, it was a returning champion who proved the revelation on day one. Kimi Raikkonen, fresh from a two-year spell in the World Rally Championship, was in good form away from the track and looked even better on it. Four fast stints in the morning put him top and he was never displaced, his 1m19.670s lap the early benchmark at Jerez.
Paul di Resta was the only man able to join Raikkonen in the sub 1m20s bracket in his Force India, although Nico Rosberg – in the 2011-spec Mercedes, blown diffuser and all – came close.
After a morning spent waiting for parts – the plane they were being transported on couldn’t land at Jerez due to fog – Mark Webber enjoyed a more fruitful afternoon, putting the new RB8 fourth fastest ahead of his fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo in the Toro Rosso. McLaren and Ferrari meanwhile made low-key starts – Jenson Button finishing eighth and Felipe Massa ninth. Heikki Kovalainen (Caterham), Pastor Maldonado (Williams) and Pedro de la Rosa in the 2011 HRT rounded out the running order.
Michael Schumacher set the outright pace for Mercedes on the second day, but the more significant performance came from Mark Webber, whose Red Bull was the fastest of the 2012 machines. Webber also managed 97 laps on what was a promising day for the squad. Ricciardo, on his second day for Toro Rosso, was the only driver to get within a second of Webber’s benchmark.
Force India reserve driver Jules Bianchi – driving in the morning only – wound up fourth fastest ahead of day one pace-setter Raikkonen – the Finn losing much of the morning after running through the gravel at Curva Dry Sac. Di Resta then took the reins of the VJM05 and ended the day sixth ahead of Massa and Button. Sergio Perez took over Sauber duties from Kamui Kobayashi and was ninth, ahead of Maldonado. Kovalainen meanwhile got to use KERS on the Caterham for the first time, ending 11th ahead of de la Rosa.
The third day was as notable for driver changes as it was for on-track action, with Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso among those getting their first taste of the 2012 machines. Nico Rosberg kept Mercedes on top, meaning that – for once – second place was of more significance. The spot was claimed in emphatic fashion by Romain Grosjean, who lapped in 1m18.419s on his first day in the Lotus. The time would stand as the fastest any 2012 car achieved across the four days.
Vettel was the only driver to get within a second of Grosjean, with Hamilton’s MP4-27 less than 0.2s down the road in fourth. Jean-Eric Vergne – another newcomer – was fifth for Toro Rosso ahead of Perez’s Sauber, which was afflicted by an oil transmission issue. A partisan crowd watched as Alonso continued Ferrari’s low-key start by ending up seventh, ahead of the day’s final newcomers Bruno Senna (Williams) and (reserve) Caterham driver Giedo van der Garde. Bitter morning conditions meanwhile proved the undoing of Force India: Bianchi’s gravelly excursion at Curva Sito Pons bringing the team’s day to a premature and frustrating end.
Alonso turned the tables on a difficult start to pre-season testing for Ferrari by topping the timesheets on the fourth and final day at Jerez. The Spaniard set the second fastest time by a 2012 car early in the morning, and while his running was disrupted in the afternoon he was never displaced.
His 0.7s advantage was all the more impressive given the condensed order behind him. Vergne hung on to second despite pressure from Vettel, who responded to electrical issues in the morning with a 1m19.606s in afternoon conditions less conducive to quick times.Hamilton, Grosjean and Kobayashi all got within a second of Alonso, with the Sauber a culprit of one of several short red flag periods when it sprang a hydraulic leak. Nico Hulkenberg was seventh fastest on his first day in the Force India, with Senna and Jarno Trulli completing the order as the sun set on the first pre-season test.
COMBINED JEREZ TIMES Pos--Driver--------Team-----------Best time----Total laps 1. Rosberg Mercedes 1m17.613s 174 2. Grosjean Lotus 1m18.419s +0.806 212 3. Schumacher Mercedes 1m18.561s +0.948 174 4. Alonso Ferrari 1m18.877s +1.264 106 5. Webber Red Bull 1m19.184s +1.571 151 6. Vettel Red Bull 1m19.297s +1.684 146 7. Hamilton McLaren 1m19.464s +1.851 166 8. Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m19.587s +1.974 157 9. Vergne Toro Rosso 1m19.597s +1.984 159 10. Raikkonen Lotus 1m19.670s +2.057 192 11. Perez Sauber 1m19.770s +2.157 116 12. Di Resta Force India 1m19.772s +2.159 170 13. Kobayashi Sauber 1m19.834s +2.221 182 14. Hulkenberg Force India 1m19.977s +2.364 90 15. Senna Williams 1m20.132s +2.519 250 16. Bianchi Force India 1m20.221s +2.608 46 17. Massa Ferrari 1m20.454s +2.841 164 18. Button McLaren 1m20.688s +3.075 147 19. Maldonado Williams 1m21.197s +3.584 122 20. Kovalainen Caterham 1m21.518s +3.905 167 21. De la Rosa HRT 1m22.128s +4.515 108 22. Trulli Caterham 1m22.198s +4.585 117 23. Van der Garde Caterham 1m23.324s +5.711 74
It’s been a good start to 2012 so far for Romain Grosjean, who topped the times this morning in Jerez, setting an early benchmark of 1min 18.419secs using Pirelli’s medium compound 2012 specification tyre.
Romain ran through a programme of set-up evaluations as he put more kilometres on the E20. There were no reliability issues reported during the 53 laps completed by 13h00 local time.
“It’s the first time I’ve started the season as a Formula 1 race driver, so it was something special for me when I left the pitlane for the first time today” said the French driver.
“It was very slippery on track first thing this morning, but I’m enjoying being in the car. I’m comfortable and the E20 is nice to drive.”
Romain completed a number of runs as the team ran through its test programme.
“We’ve been looking at different set-ups as we need as much data as possible before the season gets underway. You need to know how the car reacts – say for example if you have understeer at a circuit, you need to know how to counter it. So we ran through a number of changes and logged everything to gain a better understanding of the car.”
Setting the fastest time of the morning was not a target for the team, but it nevertheless gave Romain a warm feeling.
“It was very good to be at the top of the times – hopefully we will stay there for the rest of the season!”
Today's times: Pos--Driver--------Team------------Time--------------Laps 1. Rosberg Mercedes 1m17.613s 118 2. Grosjean Lotus 1m18.419s +0.806 117 3. Vettel Red Bull 1m19.297s +1.684 96 4. Hamilton McLaren 1m19.464s +1.851 80 5. Vergne Toro Rosso 1m19.734s +2.121 79 6. Perez Sauber 1m19.770s +2.157 48 7. Alonso Ferrari 1m20.412s +2.799 67 8. Senna Williams 1m21.293s +3.680 125 9. Van der Garde Caterham 1m23.324s +5.711 74
Kimi is still at Jerez at the Lotus garage as his teammate Romain Grosjean takes over on day three of testing, following these live commentary notes:
Kimi Raikkonen is only 192 laps into his Formula 1 comeback with Lotus, but the Enstone outfit’s chief, Eric Boullier, reckons that the 2007 world champion has already shown his true colours. Kimi is fast, we knew that, but he has also proved that he is capable of being the leader that every Formula 1 team needs.
For Lotus (nee Renault), Raikkonen’s return is timely indeed. There was a time when it had an iron man in the cockpit in the form of Robert Kubica, a driver who imposed his personality on the team and left no one in any doubt as to what he wanted… and demanded. He wasn’t necessarily the most easy-going to work with, but he was loved by the team because he did the job behind the wheel and left no stone unturned in the pursuit of results. For a team that felt the absence of that kind of leadership so keenly in 2011, Raikkonen’s arrival has been embraced.
After two days back in the cockpit, two things are clear – Formula One has missed Kimi Raikkonen and Kimi Raikkonen has missed Formula One. Yes, the niggles which drove him to rallying two years ago are still there, but – for now – the 2012-spec ‘Iceman’ seems suitably chilled. Another thing that hasn’t changed is his pace, which he proved in style on the opening day of this week’s Jerez test by setting the fastest time for Lotus. Raikkonen discusses progress…
Q: You clocked the best time on day one at Jerez. Was it because of a magic car or a magic Kimi?
Kimi Raikkonen: Ha, I don’t really know. On the first day the car was good, but I have to say that on the second day it was even better. If it only set the fifth-best time then it was down to the fact that we tried different things. But, for sure, coming back to the real Formula One world and immediately doing the best time on the first day of testing was not bad. It was a nice warm feeling for the ego. But, of course, to really classify what the time was worth you would need to know what programme everybody else was running on. And don’t we all know that the times only really matter when we are in a real race? So, yes, it was nice, but don’t overestimate things! (laughs)
Q: So you feel comfortable in the car…
KR: Well, there are moments when the handling is easier than at other moments, but overall I am pretty happy with the car. Sure, there is always room for improvement, but I would say that it was not a bad start for Lotus and myself. At the moment the magic word is mileage – for all three of us: the team, the tyres and me.
Q: You did 117 laps on the second day. Did you start to feel it? Nothing compares to the G-forces when you drive a Formula One car…
KR: No, there were no problems whatsoever. That is why you exercise before.
Q: Topping the timesheets must have reassured you that after two years away you hadn’t lost it?
KR: To be honest it never entered my mind that I could have lost it. I knew when I drove the old car in Valencia that I would be okay. I could feel it immediately. Of course there isn’t 100 percent certainty, but it is coming close to that.
Q: When you left F1 for rallying you spoke about the monotony – the same tracks, the same hotels, the same people, and the same questions…
KR: …and nothing has changed. And believe me, I didn’t expect any change! (laughs) Sure, from that aspect rallying is much nicer, but that is a part of Formula One and if you want to race in this category you have to accept all aspects of it.
Q: So despite all these downsides you found Formula One so exciting that you came back?
KR: I found the racing so exciting. I missed the racing. And it is a fact that Formula One is the highest form of racing. So you would rather take it than leave it.
Q: Is it fair to say that driving a Formula One car is the best thing you can do with your life?
KR: Oh, I am sure there are more things that you can do in your life.
Q: But on a professional level…
KR: As I just said, if you want to compete at the highest level of racing you have to race in F1. That is what I enjoy. All the side affects you have to accept for the benefit of racing at the top level.
Q: You probably also missed winning…
KR: I don’t know if you miss winning, but of course every sound person would rather win than lose! (laughs) But it is not often that you can win all the time. It’s not that I’ve got used to winning.
Q: The team had a tough time last year but for you – in F1 – it’s been some time since you’ve raced a car not capable of winning a Grand Prix. Is that a worry?
KR: Ah, I didn’t have an outright winner of a car for many years. I would say that in 2009 I didn’t exactly have a winning car and people seem to forget that so easily. And how often do you win? Okay, I had some good wins in Formula One, but if you compare that with how long I have been in Formula One, then I haven’t won so often. But that is obviously part of a career.
Q: When did the idea of returning really take shape?
KR: That was during the summer when I was doing some NASCAR races. I enjoyed that direct fight with competitors again, the wheel-to-wheel fight. I realised that I was missing it. In rallying you also race against people, but not physically, and it was that physical aspect that I really missed. After that realisation, I spoke to my managers and they started to sort things out for me.
Q: Why didn’t the negotiations with Williams work out?
KR: We simply didn’t find a solution that would satisfy both sides. You know how it is – one side wants something and the other something else, so you drift apart. That’s how it goes sometimes in life. And sometimes the bad comes good. I am very happy where I am now.
Q: Lotus team principal Eric Boullier said that when he told the team that you were joining it immediately boosted morale. Did you expect you would ever be a morale booster?
KR: I know that the team had a tough year last season, but they have great people and so far it has been a good experience joining them. I hope we can have a good experience together in the months to come – and that will be an even bigger morale boost! If you ask me what my goal is for this season then the answer is that I don’t know. You must wait until the first couple of races and then I will probably be able to give a hint.
Q: During your two-year sabbatical you didn’t once attend a Grand Prix. Why?
KR: Well, I went to Monaco twice, but not to see the cars, only for business. And if you want to see cars properly – as someone like me, who is really interested in how the cars change, does – then you come to a test. And if you want to see the race then you see it on TV.
Q: Do you think anything significant has changed over the last two years?
KR: Not really, except for the tyres and having a different manufacturer for the tyres. The cars haven’t changed too much and everything else is business as usual.
Source: mtv3.f1 | Translation courtesy of OSX
Kimi is happy to have managed to get Mark Slade as his race engineer at Lotus. Raikkonen and Slade already worked together at McLaren.
“I wanted him. There was of course many things that had to be sorted out so that could happen. I’m glad he managed to get away. I have a good race engineer now as well but I wanted Mark because I know him and he knows what I want.”
Slade also knows the Lotus team after having worked in the team formerly known as Renault during the 2010 season.
“He has worked here before so it will probably to be easier to start with him in a new team since he already has knowledge about it.”
Kimi Raikkonen’s new race engineer will be Mark Slade.
Slade worked for Raikkonen at McLaren for five years. British Slade is otherwise accustomed to working with the Finns, for he also served as Mika Häkkinen and Heikki Kovalainen’s McLaren race engineer.
Slade moves to Lotus from the Mercedes garage, where he worked last year with Michael Schumacher.
Kimi Raikkonen says he has the answers he was looking for from his first experience of the new Lotus E20 after completing 180 laps during two days’ testing at Jerez.
The Finn did not match his pace from the opening day of the test, where he hit the headlines by going quickest of all. But Raikkonen declared himself satisfied by what he learned from the car and Pirelli’s tyres.
He now hands over to team-mate Romain Grosjean for the final two days of the test.
“I think the main thing was to get a lot of mileage right now,” said the 2007 world champion when asked by AUTOSPORT for his summary of the test. “The car feels pretty OK straightaway, and I think we improved it today, but today the conditions were a bit more tricky than yesterday.
“I’m happy with what we did over the two days.”
Raikkonen added that the starting point for the E20 appeared to be positive when he could get the Pirelli tyres in a good operating window, as he continued his education process with the Italian rubber.
“Some compounds worked better than others,” he said. “When they are new they are always good but once they get used… and it was quite cold so some of them were slightly better than others.
“But when they worked the car feels quite good so… I have no idea what the others are doing but I was quite happy about how things went.”
“If the conditions are good for that compound and they get heat in them it seems to be fine but then some of them don’t like it when it’s cold and the tyre just doesn’t work,” he continued. “But when they work normally it’s not too bad, at least here, but it can be a really different story in Barcelona.”
Raikkonen had a couple of off-track moments during his second day in the car and was delayed in the morning when he ran over a kerb and damaged the plank under the chassis – which then needed to be replaced.
“I ran wide under braking for Turn 6, and just driving back in the gravel the edge of the kerb on the circuit was very high and it hit the front of the floor and we damaged that,” he explained. “So it took a while to fix it. Unfortunate.”
Despite completing over 500 km in the cockpit today, and the numerous requests for photographs and interviews, Kimi was full of energy at the end of the day.
“Physically, I felt fine after 117 laps. Conditions were quite windy on track but despite this I got a better feeling from the car so it’s positive progress.”
Schumacher, driving last year’s Mercedes W02 in full trim so that the team could gain as much information about Pirelli’s 2012 tyres from a stable platform, set a 1m18.561s lap during the morning that no one came close to beating for the rest of the day.
Webber’s time also came in the morning as much of the paddock chose to focus on longer runs in the afternoon.
The Australian’s 1m19.184s would remain the fastest time anyone has set in one of the new cars brought to Spain this week.
Daniel Ricciardo impressed in the Toro Rosso, going third fastest in the STR7, having completed 100 laps of fairly trouble-free running. He set his best time around the same period as his compatriot when the track conditions appeared to be at their best.
Jules Bianchi began his Force India career with a fine fourth fastest in the VJM05 before handing over to Paul di Resta for the afternoon and the Scot would complete 69 laps in that time to set the sixth fastest lap behind yesterday’s fastest man Kimi Raikkonen.
The Finn had a couple of offs today in the Lotus. The first came early in the morning when he ran wide at Dry Sack and required a new plank. He then had another excursion very late in the day as he found the limits of this generation of cars.
He still managed 117 laps, and also got to try out a different steering rack after he found yesterday’s one not to his liking.
Ferrari was again far from the top of the timesheet, and late in the day was employing flow-vis to study the effects of aero over Fellipe Massa’s rear wing. The Brazilian’s time of 1m20.454s was 1.893s off the top time.
Jenson Button was eighth quickest in the McLaren, and like Ferrari, was not seeking any headline performance as it worked on improving the MP4-27.
Sauber’s Sergio Perez was tenth in the Sauber ahead of Pastor Maldonado, who spent the day working on reliability with the Williams FW34.
Heikki Kovalainen was slowest of the drivers equipped with 2012 machinery but completed a whopping 139 laps for Caterham as he gathered plenty of information.
Pedro de la Rosa completed HRT’s running by setting a 1m22.128s, just 0.618s off the pace of Kovalainen.
Today's times Pos--Driver--------------Team-----------Time--------------Laps 1. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m18.561s 132 2. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m19.184s + 0.623 97 3. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m19.587s + 1.026 100 4. Jules Bianchi Force India 1m20.221s + 1.660 46 5. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m20.239s + 1.678 117 6. Paul di Resta Force India 1m20.272s + 1.711 69 7. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m20.454s + 1.893 95 8. Jenson Button McLaren 1m20.688s + 2.127 85 9. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m20.711s + 2.150 68 10. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m21.197s + 2.636 97 11. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1m21.518s + 2.957 139 12. Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1m22.128s + 3.567 64
10:07 Kankshit Bharos has asked @eddstrawf1 one of his least favourite questions, based upon judging performance from testing times. Fortunately, he gets away with it by starting off with a disclaimer. “First test day times are almost irrelevant,” says Kankshit. “But the pace Kimi Raikkonen set yesterday hasn’t been touched yet. Is this a sign for the season that Lotus and Force India will be the dark horses in 2012?”
Edd says… “The headline times are pretty irrelevant but it’s fair to conclude that Lotus and Force India have proved they have a decent package upon which to build. Lotus’s programme was distorted by the fact the team wanted to send Raikkonen out an push on as he re-acclimatised to F1 and the important thing is that he resembles the old Kimi in terms of on-track commitment.
10:31 As we’ve mentioned, yesterday’s pacesetter Raikkonen has spent most of the morning in the pits after an early visit to the gravel did some damage to the Lotus. And here’s that picture of the incident we just got so excited over.
14:18 Schumacher looks to the inside of Raikkonen at the exit of the last corner.
14:18 And then Schumacher overtakes into Turn 1. Wonder if the pair will be getting this close once the season starts?
14:19 This test is the first time they have shared a track since the end of 2006, when Schumacher retired for the first time and Raikkonen stepped into his Ferrari, By the time Schumacher returned in 2010, Raikkonen was off to rallying.
14:19 Raikkonen is presumably running heavier than Schumacher right now, with 15 more laps to go in the Lotus’s stint.
14:32 There is a Ferrari guy stood on the pit wall just next to Lotus, obviously keeping a watching brief on Raikkonen’s progress.
14:33 Wonder if he looks like he’s more enthusiastic in a black suit than he was in a scarlet one?
14:34 The Ferrari guy might be following AUTOSPORT Live, for as soon as we typed that, he walked off…
14:50 Brad Larsen asks: “How do you see yourself gaining from having Kimi, a former world champion, on board as your team-mate? Have you been able to make him laugh or smile yet?”
Romain Grosjean: “Haha. We did, we did – with Kimi he is a very nice guy, and it’s good to have him alongside me. It’s also good for the team to have him, and hopefully we can develop the car together and have a good season.
“I think we have to work together: two drivers are always stronger than one driver, so if we work together it will be better for the team. Hopefully we can also improve ourselves at the same time.”
14:57 Raikkonen ought to be pretty pleased with his running this week – good times and good reliability from Lotus.