You look at him, sunk into a sofa in front of the tv that is showing a match of Federer, and you wonder: why is he doing this? Kimi Raikkonen is still slim, always hazy in his look. Blond locks come out under his beanie that he wears even indoor. Why are you doing it, Kimi? You won a worldchampionship five years ago, last Ferrari driver who got it. You had fun with rallies, with Nascar, with Peugeot 908 (until it was possible). You know very well that with Lotus the chances to back to the top are few, especially at 32. And then? The money? You expect an unkind answer and instead he plays ball: “The money is just a part of the story, of course. But it’s not that I needed it. For sure it’s a work where you risk your own life, so…”
Q: Now you can say to have raced also in others categories. But is the F1 for you always something special?
KR: “Special? I wouldn’t know. It’s what I have done for most of my career. But if you want to race, you try to make it at the top level. And if you can choose, you probably choose F1.”
Q: Can you tell us how were your negotiations with Lotus?
KR: “Well, it didn’t work with Williams: their offer was not what I wanted. With Lotus we talked a bit about everything and it went all very fast. We easily found a deal that satisfied both.”
Q: Now you see at you like a rookie, who has a lot to learn, or as a champion who can teach something?
He smiles. He didn’t lose that way to speak lazy, but he seems he has more will to explain, to tell:
KR: “Uh, we’ll see how it goes. To tell the truth I didn’t think much about the results, so far. I just want to do the best I can, then I hope to make some good races too. I really don’t think that if something goes bad we’ll say: fu*k you, I give up all!”
Q: You come back after two years, Sch. After three…
KR: “It’s not the case to make comparisons. I don’t know how easy or difficult was for him. I think about me.”
Q: You’ll find again the GPs but also the interviews with the press, the meetings, things that you hate. Do you expect something will change?
KR: “I expect as the same as before. They say that everything changes, but I don’t believe it. And I have always said that I’m here because I like racing, the rest is part of F1 but it’s not the main thing. It’s always been like this and ever will be.
Q: When have you decided to give up with rallies?
KR: “When I have tried Nascar and I felt I liked to race together with the others. And that I missed it. It’s not that I wanted to stop with rallies, I would do them even now, but I can’t. We’ll see in future.”
Q: Do you think that with more time you could reach Loeb’s level?
KR: “I think that anyone hasn’t reached him yet… Rally is still one of the most difficult sport, it’s impressive how much fast some people go. But if you put them on a F1 car it’s the same story… I would have needed of two more years and maybe to make tests and to have an official team”.
Q: Did you follow the GPs during this time?
KR: “Not at all in 2010, I started to watch some races last year, because I knew that I could probably come back. It doesn’t seem to me too much different. There are more overtakes but just because they often use the mobile wing. Are real overtakes these? Sure, there is more show, with the tyres and all, there are more different speeds on track. But it has always been in F1, to overtake someone you have to be more more faster.
Q: Did you return to win again?
KR: “Well, winning is always good and the championship is always your main goal. But if doesn’t happen, it doesn’t change my life.” Here the old Kimi comes back… “It’s not my obsession. I think that people expect it to me, but I’m happy with my driving and if it’s not enough, it’s not enough. That’s all.”
Q: They said you left F1 because of the lack of motivation…
KR: “Those who write it, don’t know me. Always these bulls*it around. What’s motivation got to do with it, when you know that your car is a sh*t and even doing the best you can, you can’t reach the result? It’s not always your fault. I never had a problem of motivation, I’m not interested in what they say.
Q: Is there nothing that you regret of your last period in Ferrari? Have you ever said to you “If I did so..”
KR: “No, I have no regrets. I drove the best I have ever driven, it was the car that was not enough. If I came back, I wouldn’t change anything. Sure, you make mistakes: but they are used to learn.”
Q: Have you ever had the feeling that they wanted to shoot you because they were interested in taking Alonso?
KR: “I’m not interested, really. I have no resentment. And then it was three years ago.”
Q: During Valencia test with the 2010 car you tried the Pirelli tyres (demo). Did you find some differences?
KR: “I wouldn’t say. After a while the rear tyres go down, but I don’t find them so different. Even if they say me that those of this year will be different again.”
Q: You raced when there were fuel pit stops. Now they aren’t anymore…
KR: “Ok, at the beginning you have 150 kg fuel. But it’s not a difference like day and night. We tried with full tank and it’s the same car, just heavier.
Q: You have to accustom yourself again with the buttons on the wheel. Those of R30 were not so “complete”…
KR: “Yes, Kers was missing, but I used it in 2009 and it’s just one button. There wasn’t the DRS also, the mobile wing.. But in the end I don’t believe it will be so scary. Just more stuff to push after a bit it will be automatic.”
Q: You will have Grosjean as teammate: would you prefer a more expert teammate?
KR: “No. I met him before Christmas at the factory. We don’t know us so well yet but he seems to me a good guy.”
Q: Have you already changed your physical training?
KR: “Yes, above all for the neck. In rallies also we have strong lateral accelerations, and the steering is even more hard. And then it’s more tiring. All the week you wake up at 5 in the morning, when in F1 you spend just a session of 1 hour half.
Q: About the Le Mans Peugeot 908?
KR: “Beautiful, fun. It seems big but you can drive it like a F1 car. Funny, it’s so quiet…”
Q: How long do you think to stay in F1?
KR: “I had no plans before, I haven’t any now for the future. Ten years? No, I really can’t see myself in F1 so long…”
Q: Among the drivers now in F1, is there someone who impressed you?
KR: “I can’t see big differences. Vettel was strong also two years ago. With the regulations, some teams can change position, but the stronger are always the same.”
Q: When you raced with Massa he sometimes was ahead of you. Are you surprised he had so many difficulties last year?
KR: “Even in 2009 we had a difficult year. I don’t know if it was because of the tyres, for him or something else but sometimes it happens, even if you think to be as fast as before. For me Felipe is the same as he was years ago, there was just something that didn’t suit him well.
Q: In the end, were you bored at home?
KR: “I had more time for myself, but rallying also took much time. And then I like staying at home in the freetime. But sometimes I missed travels, I had to go somewhere. It was nice to take a break, but now I think it will be all like before.”