Archive for February 9, 2012

Interview: Welcome to The Iceman’s Cave

Source: | magazine edition | Translation courtesy of Nicole

Seiska’s reporter Panu Hörkkö visited Kimi Räikkönen at his home and he was surprised – positively.

“When I drove on Feb 3rd from Helsinki to Kimi Räikkönen’s villa in Porkkalanniemi I had butterflies in my stomach. I had actually had them ever since the night before and Kimi even visited in my few hours dream to be honest.

So the unconsciousness pulled cruel tricks on me. I was however about to meet Kimi for the first time and I had heard that he hates reporters. I wondered which one of us is more troubled with the meeting – the one who was going to be interviewed or the interviewer?

Kimi’s expression was something completely different from what I had expected!

When the photographer and I arrived to Porkkalanniemi we were greeted by Riku Kuvaja. He informed in his kind way that he would go and walk around the villa with the photographer and I could soon interview Kimi in peace.

Soon after that the glass door opened and a beanie-headed Kimi came out to shake hands with me.

I immediately saw an expression on Kimi’s face that I hadn’t seen in one single magazine or tv-interview earlier. Kimi was unbelievably laidback and frankly put charming, if a man can say so about another man.

Kimi’s boyishness and grinning continued all through our 3-hours meeting and the ice broke easily in the Iceman’s cave. Kimi answered my questions in a laidback way and used his witty sense of humour. His laughter was catching and the atmosphere was warm.

It wasn’t pretending from his side, I can say based upon my life experience that Kimi is genuinely a laidback person – and modest too on top of that – unlike many “heroes” I have met.

Lacking speaking skills, they say! After we left the villa I could only think that dammit, that guy just hates cameras just like probably 99% of Finnish men also hate!

Next F1-season I am going to concentrate on following only Kimi and his grips in Lotus. The guy did after all set the fastest laptime in Jerez testing!

I will leave in their own league those who nag about Kimi’s poor skills of commenting or posing. Afterall I know myself that we Finns have an exceptionally charming hero in this man. And a man can say this about another man.

Good luck to the upcoming season, Kimi!

Q: Are you nervous going back to F1?
KR: Not at all. I wouldn’t had come back if I wouldn’t have liked to. I’m sure it’s going to be fun this season.

Q: What kind of chances of success do you think Lotus has this season?
KR: It’s difficult to say, nobody knows yet. We will see after the first tests where we are going.

Q: Do you have hunger for another WDC?
KR: Yes. You always have that as a goal. I will try a lot, lets see if that’s enough or not.

Q: You have said that Lotus has a homey atmosphere compared to your earlier teams, how do you see the difference?
KR: Each team has always been different. Lotus has however a different kind of management. They are younger and racing-spirited and not any uptight people.

Q: Is Sebastian Vettel your best buddy in F1?
KR: Yes, I know him best and have spent most of time with him than with any other drivers.

Q: Do you have any enemy or someone you can’t stand there?
KR: No I haven’t but it’s difficult to say what other people think.

Q: Have you already met your team mate Romain Grosjean? Is he a good guy?
KR: I have met him and he is a nice normal guy.

Q: Where do you see yourself after ten years?
KR: Difficult to say but hopefully everything is still okay.

Q: What plans do you have for your life after F1?
KR: No plans. I have never have any terribly long plans.

Q: In how good physical shape are you?
KR: I guess in the same shape as before. I know pretty well in which shape one has to be.

Q: They operated your wrist after the recent motorsledge-race. Has it healed well?
KR: Yeah. It’s now completely okay.

Q: They often talk about your money in public. You have a fortune of over 100 million euros. What does money mean to you?
KR: I guess it means the same as it means to other people too. I get a certain amount of money for the job that I do. Some think it’s right, some think it’s wrong. I myself have however made all the work so it doesn’t make me ashamed at all. Money makes some things easier but it really doesn’t solve everything in life.

Q: Has the big fortune made you out of touch with reality or do you even think about monetary matters?
KR: *laughing* Definitely not! I’m just the same as I was before. It makes some things easier but it also brings a lot of negative things along. (more…)


Day 3 Jerez: Kimi watches as Grosjean takes over E20

Sources: | Live commentary notes |

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:

08:07 Now Grosjean is back in after his installation lap, Raikkonen wanders over for a chat with his team-mate.
08:07 The Finn – no stranger to cold weather – looks chilly as he shuffles from foot to foot. Is this Spain or England?
08:07 Outside the Lotus garage, Raikkonen has the headset on and is chatting to Alan Permane and Eric Boullier.
09:38 Grosjean’s lap puts him 0.879s ahead of Perez.
09:38 That’s the fastest lap we’ve seen from a 2012 car so far, and bodes well for Lotus given that Raikkonen led the way on Tuesday.


Feature: Boullier on Raikkonen leading Lotus

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.

Exclusive: Q&A with Kimi after Jerez tests


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…
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…
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?
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…
…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?
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?
Oh, I am sure there are more things that you can do in your life.

Q: But on a professional level…
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…
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.