Kimi Raikkonen is known for his no-nonsense approach, especially when he is behind the wheels. The 2007 world champion, who returned to Formula One this year after a two-year hiatus, has found his rhythm right from the first race of the season. In an exclusive interview, Raikkonen talks about his comeback performance and the controversy surrounding this season’s tyre compounds.
Q: Six races, six winners. Going by the trend and your performance so far, you seem to be the most likely candidate for the next race. How do you rate your winning chances not only in Montreal but in other races as well?
KR: Well, I think we do have chances to win a race this year, hopefully it will come soon. We have a good car and so we just need a good weekend to make it all happen. We have been on the podium, and we have had a good pace to fight, so it should be close enough to win, as well.
Q: What do you think about the 2012 season so far? Has it been the most exciting that you have participated in and why?
KR: It’s been a good year so far. I don’t know yet if it is the most exciting or not – we will see at the end of the season, and see what has happened. So far nobody has been able to dominate. As long as it is like that, it’s impossible to predict how the next race goes. Obviously, that’s good for the fans.
Q: What’s the secret behind your impressive comeback? Being away from Formula One for two years doesn’t seem to have affected you much…
KR: There is only one way to drive a F1 car and I have not forgotten it. As I’ve said it before, it feels like I have not been really been away. I have no secret – I’m as competitive as I have always been and I’m enjoying the racing and being with Lotus F1 Team.
Q: What is your opinion about the so-called ‘tyre lottery’? Michael Schumacher has criticised the tyres saying it’s like driving on raw eggs.
KR: I have had to discover and learn the tyres at the beginning of the year, but really I have no issue there. I think that I have adapted well. I think the biggest effect comes with the fuel loads. In the first part of the race it’s really heavy and that is the time, while you have to careful with the tyres. It takes some time to adapt, for sure.
Q: In Bahrain and Spain, you were within striking distance of the eventual winners. What extra bit do you think is necessary to win a race? How crucial are qualifying results in this regard?
KR: Qualifying is and has always been key but during the race anything can happen. About the extra bit, I don’t know, I think that we just need a clean race that we would start as high on the grid as possible to improve our chances to win a race.
Q: Did you expect such an impressive performance (individual and constructor) before the start of the season considering that you were returning after two years and not with a big manufacturer team like Ferrari or McLaren?
KR: I have decided to trust Lotus F1 Team and that is why I joined the team. I’m not surprised by the performance – they are very professional, dedicated people there and I feel at home. I felt the potential of our car, while I tested it for the first time in Jerez. The boys in Enstone have always been able to build competitive cars, so it’s not such a surprise.
Q: How different is Formula One in 2012 compared to when you left it in 2009?
KR: Nothing has changed, it’s the same as before – some rules have evolved, I had KERS three years ago, but now there are DRS and the Pirelli tyres etc but nothing is different. Racing is still done in the same way. The quickest usually wins.