Tifosi will love Kimi
Kimi Raikkonen will win the hearts of the Ferrari tifosi – that’s the verdict this month of the F1Racing Reader Panel. From a poll of more than 1200 readers, 63.4% per cent believe that he will prove a suitable replacement for Michael Schumacher.
Will Raikkonen win the ’07 title?
Yes 64.6% No 35.4%
Will the Tifosi love him?
No 36% Yes 63.4%
Will Massa thrive with Kimi?
Yes 63.0% No 37.0%
There is an article on Kimi and Ferrari and the thoughts of the guys who really know him. I’ll show you the scans which include thoughts of these F1 guys and the One-to-One interview with Kimi. Some quotes in here you will find have been said before, so its not fully new stuff, but enjoy the read anyway!
On winning for Ferrari in Melbourne; on the team and Massa; on Schumi
How did it feel to win your first race as a Ferrari driver? When I signed for Ferrari, I thought it would be nice to win as soon as possible. But it came in Melbourne which was even faster than I expected. I’ve never won the opening race of a season before, so it gave me a lot of satisfaction. We’ve started the season with our best foot forward: victory, pole position and fastest lap.
Did you have any dramas in Melbourne? It may have looked like an easy race from the outide, but it wasn’t easy at all. We had some minor problems, the biggest of which was the malfunctioning radio, caused by a plug defect. It began as soon as I got into the car on the grid, so I couldn’t communicate with the pit wall throughout the race.
Did the lack of communication slow you down? I knew that my long-run pace was strong, so it was a question of staying ahead at the first corner and then sticking to my strategy. Had there been a safety car, the lack of a radio might have caused me a problem, but luckily there wasn’t one.
Was it an emotional thing to win for Ferrari? It was a very emotional moment when I crossed the line – to see the guys on the pitwall. But only 10 laps earlier I’d almost fallen asleep. I got distracted, my concentration dropped a bit and I locked the wheels and took Turn 3 slightly too wide. Even without the radio, I knew the team were saying "Kimi, wake up!".
How good is this year’s Ferrari? It’s very good, but I’m still learning about the car and how to get the most from the new tyres. I made a big step forward at the final test of the winter in Bahrain, since when I’ve felt more comfortable.
What do you think about the new-for-2007 Bridgestone tyre formulations? They’re completely different from the Michelin tyres that I used at McLaren last year, and even from the Bridgetone tyres that Ferrari used last year. It took me a little while to get used to them, but it’s the same for every team and every driver, so it doesn’t make any difference.
Do you feel completely comfortable in the team? I have a good group of people around me and I’m having a good time. With more time I’ll get to know the people around me better, but everything is going well. I’m very happy.
Are Ferrari very different from McLaren? Yes, they are, and all the systems are different, too. But I don’t want to compare the two teams here.
How do you get on with your teammate Felipe Massa? We have a good relationship, but it’s still early days. On the circuit we want to beat each other, but that’s normal. I have more in common with Felipe than I’ve had with any of my previous teammates.
Do you appreciate the history of Ferrari? I know that Ferrari are a very famous team and have a lot of history. But I don’t have any favourite F1 drivers from history or anything like that.
What about non-Ferrari drivers? you recently entered a Ski-doo race under the pseudonym of ‘James Hunt’. That was just a bit of fun. I wanted to do the race and could have entered under any name. It was my idea to enter as James Hunt – just a bit of fun.
How much have you spoken to Michael Schumacher over the winter? I’ve seen him a few times and we’ve spoken a few times. I saw him before we started to test and during one test, but that was all for me, personally. Michael has been a part of the team for a long time, he knows them very well and has a lot of experience, so for sure he can help us. For the team, I think his involvement is a good thing.
Who do you see as your main competitors this year? McLaren look very strong, and BMW are close, too. With the regulation changes made over the winter, I’m sure that it’s going to be a very close season.
You moved to Ferrari to win the world championship. How hard will it be this year? Every year is difficult, it doesn’t matter which team you’re with, and even if you have a good car it can be very difficult. I think we have a strong package and as long as we get everything working well we should be able to fight for the title. And then we’ll see what happens.
Finally, there are two Finns in F1 this year. Do you rate Heikki Kovalainen? I think he’s quite so I think it’ll be interesting to see how he does. He still needs some experience but he’s with a good team.
+5 Fast Facts
1. Do you believe in God? Yes
2. What was the last book you read? I can’t remember. I only read racing magazines.
3. What’s your favourite movie? Scarface, with Al Pacino. Brilliant.
4. What’s your favourite food? Steak and Pasta.
5. What’s on your iPod? Finnish music.
Will Kimi succeed at Ferrari?
David Coulthard – Raikkonen’s McLaren teammate from 2002-2004
"Its a very different Ferrari team this year because Kimi is a very different person from Michael. But the team needn’t worry because Kimi will do at least as good a job as Michael in the cock-pit. Michael was quick, but not Senna-quick, or even as fast as Mika Hakkinen. So Kimi will do a good job for them. I’ll be suprised if he doesn’t out-score Felipe, not because I don’t rate Felipe but because I think Kimi is quicker. If the car’s good enough, and the early signs are that it is, then Kimi can win the world championship this year."
Ron Dennis – Brokered a deal in which McLaren-Mercedes paid Sauber-Petronas $14 million to release Kimi; and was his team boss for five years.
"Of course, it would be possible for me to answer the question, but I’m not going to. Why not? ell, because, despite the fact that he no longer drivers for McLaren, I still consider Kimi to be a friend. And, as is often the case, when you’ve spent a lo of time with a friend, you come to know their strengths and weaknesses, which we all have of course. As a team, McLaren’s objective is to beat all our competitors, including Ferrari, including Kimi, so I don’t think there is anything to be gained from speaking about the strengths or the weaknesses of any of our competitors."
Beat Zehnder – Team Manager at Sauber, Zehnder was a father figure to Kimi during his first year in F1.
"No one is Michael except Michael, and Ferrari have got to deal with that fact. But the team is too good to let it become a long-term problem. Kimi is different from most drivers, and they will have to learn to cope with that. But he’s extremely fast and that’s all that matters. In my opinion, he should be a double world champion already. At Sauber, I worked with both of this year’s Ferrari drivers, Kimi and Felipe, and I think they’ll make a good team. Neither of them is a politician and it’s definatly an advantage of a team to have drivers who aren’t political. Because it’s the car that matters and it’s good."
Jacky Eeckelaert – Now a Senior Engineer at Honda, Jacky was Kimi’s race engineer at Sauber, teaching Kimi the art of engineering an F1 car.
"Ferrari are a special team in terms of media attention and pressure, and some drivers don’t react well to that. But if there’s one driver on the grid who isn’t affected by that, it’s Kimi. Ferrari have a very good car this year and Kimi will do an excellent job for them. Michael probably had a better work ethic than Kimi, which pays of when you have a bad season, like Ferrari did in 2005. Michael kept pushing all year and finished 3rd in the championship, whereas Kimi’s head might have dropped in that situation. But they needn’t worry about that this year because the car is so good."
Nick Heidfeld – Teammate to Kimi at Sauber in 2001.
"I think Kimi will do well at Ferrari because he is very fast. I’m sure they know what they’re taking on, and if they thought he wouldn’t fit in, they wouldn’t have signed him. All they want is for him to be quick. The worst thing Ferrari can do is expect Kimi to behave like Michael – he never will. The only suprising thing this winter was the gap between Kimi and Felipe in testing. Kimi had to learn about the Bridgestone tyres, but so did many other drivers. I expectd him to be faster than Felipe from the beginning and, although that wasn’t the case, I’m sure he will end up faster when it counts in the races."
The Making of Kimi Raikkonen – After an abortive attack on Formula Renault UK in 1999, Kimi returned with the crack Manor Motorsport team in 2000 for his first (and only) full season of junior formulae racing. His race engineer, and now the boss of Manor’s FRenault operation, Tony Shaw, here recalls the Kimi style.
"Kimi’s a pretty straightforward bloke – he gets into the car and drives the fucking wheels off it, and that’s what racing driver’s are supposed to do. There’s been all this talk about him struggling to conform to the ways of how Ferrari work, but his job is to drive. So it’ll be interesting to see how a team built around Schumi will work for him.
Kimi joined us for the FRenault Winter series in 1999. We were already impressed with Antonia Pizzonia, who’d cleaned up with us during the season. We shoved Kimi in the car for his first test, at Snetterton, and he equalled Antonio’s quickest time in a few laps – on old tyres. In one race, he made a piss poor start, lost his front wings and got a slow puncture – but he still won and set the fastest lap… so we knew then he was quite special.
The 2000 season was the first with the new spec chassis and engine. We ended up with a poor engine for Kimi and Renault didn’t encourage swapping them or carrying a spare. We took a long time proving how bad it was – there was three or four tenths in it – but once we finally swapped it no one ever saw him again in the UK series.
We did a couple of EuroCup races, where Felipe Massa was top boy, but missed the official test for our first (at Donington), after Kimi had been confined to barracks for buggering off from his national service. But he still stuffed it on pole and cleared off to win; Massa was EuroCup’s best, but he was still 15 seconds behind Kimi. At Spa, we had engine problems. We went through two that were dogs, and for second qualifying we gave Kimi Danny Watt’s engine. He only had two new tyres left, but qualified second and then disappeared in the race.
As well as being team manager, I was his race engineer. In between sessions he’d sleep under a bench while all the other drivers were going through data – wild horses wouldn’t drag him to it. He’s a stunning driver and there aren’t many Kimis out there. But if there’s another one its Lewis Hamilton, who joined us one year later…"