On Thursday this week, four days after finishing second at the
Hungarian Grand Prix, Ferrari Formula 1 driver Kimi Raikkonen will
strap into his Abarth Grande Punto S2000 ready to make his World Rally
Alongside Kimi on his home round of the WRC
will be experienced co-driver Kaj Lindstrom – the man who used to
partner multiple rally champion Tommi Makinen. Together, Raikkonen and
Lindstrom have tackled three rallies so far in the Abarth but this
week’s rally marks the pair’s debut on gravel.
This weekend, in between making final preparations for the rally, Lindstrom spoke to wrc.com about the challenge ahead.
How much testing have you and Kimi done for Rally Finland?
done two different tests – both in the same Abarth car we’ll use this
week. The first one was two weeks ago, when we did about 130kms on
roads close to Jyvaskyla. We had another test on Monday and Tuesday
last week on roads nearer to Jamsa, and on that one we did roughly
Finland will be Kimi’s first proper gravel rally, right?
and the first test was his first time ever on gravel with the rally
car. That was why we needed to have two separate tests; the first was
just so he could get used to driving on gravel and get used to the
tyres. He needed to get some mileage in first before he could think
about altering the car set-up on the second test."
done two snow and one asphalt rally together so far, what was Kimi’s
reaction after driving his first proper gravel stage?
they call him Iceman and he certainly kept his cool. There was no big
reaction as such. Perhaps the biggest surprise was how easy he seemed
to find it. For the first run we were on the same test road we had used
to prepare for the winter rally. Even though the conditions were very
different at least it was familiar to him and he could slowly build the
speed. But it didn’t take too long for him to get used to the gravel,
so I don’t know if it helped him or not – he was pretty fast right from
What car set-up changes did he made?
a Super 2000 car there are only really two things you can alter;
differentials and suspension. Kimi needed to work on both areas to make
the car quicker and make the handling more predictable. It’s important
to know when you lose grip exactly what the car is going to do – and
that was the main thing to sort. We are quite pleased with what we’ve
got now. After the car was sorted it was sent back [to Tommi Makinen
Racing] to be stripped and rebuilt before the rally."
Will you test it again before Rally Finland starts?
check it on Monday – just to do 20 kilometres or so to check everything
works okay. That will be our shakedown because as a ‘non priority’ crew
we can’t take part in Thursday’s official shakedown."
You’ve co-driven for lots of world class rally drivers; how does Kimi’s driving compare?
car handling and driving skills, like the lines he takes and so on, are
at a very high level – outstanding, actually. On the test I was quite
surprised by how quickly he got used to the gravel and got the car to
perform. It’s a very comfortable feeling for me to be in the car with
him in Finland – even though it’s a high speed rally. You can see that
he controls the car and not the other way around."
Has Kimi had any specific driving tuition for Rally Finland?
[Makinen] went in the car with him at our pre-event test but only in
the passenger seat. I forced him in for a ride! Tommi did drive Kimi
when he was preparing for the winter rallies, but not for this one."
What do you think Kimi will find most difficult about Rally Finland?
most difficult thing will be making correct pace notes because Kimi’s
going to be competing against people who are a lot more experineced.
Some will have done five years rallying before they even attempted pace
notes – and they’ll probably have been learning notes for few more
years before they tackle Rally Finland. This week Kimi will go there on
only his forth rally ever. During the recce he’ll drive 13 different
stages in two days and making accurate pace notes will be the most
demanding job to do. It’s the most crucial part of this rally too – if
you get the pace notes right then the rest should be fine."
What’s your objective next week? Or is this all about fun for Kimi?
all about fun. We haven’t talked about any result that we want to have
and I think that’s the best way to do it. If we can do three good days
without mistakes, and hopefully without punctures, then we will get
some result for sure, but with the amount of experience he has there’s
no point in setting any targets. We’ll just see. We’ll go there with
the aim of having fun and making life difficult for the other drivers!"
Sebastien Loeb has expressed an interest in F1 – Perhaps if it goes well for Kimi he and Seb could swap keys for a while?
I know that Sebastien is very, very talented and very good in rallying
but I would say it is easier to step into Formula 1 from the WRC world
than to go the other way around. In F1 you do the races and the
circuits and you can go and practise the same corners over and over –
that’s not like rally where you drive the stages just twice in the
recce at 80kph, and then you have to do the same thing at full speed.
In my view that’s more difficult. You only have to look at drivers like
Mika Salo or Mika Hakkinen or even Martin Brundle who did the RAC one
year to see that."
So what is the appeal of rallying for Kimi?
challenge is one thing. The WRC is not easy and it’s totally different
to what he does for a living. He wants to see if he can do rallying at
the proper level and of course doing Rally Finland has always been a
dream for him. I’m just pleased that he’s so into it – and that he’s
happy to have me along too."