Monza preview: “I hope they will still like to see me racing there!”
After a storming drive to his sixth podium finish of the year in Spa Francorchamps – despite a car not handling to his liking – Kimi Räikkönen arrives in Monza back in fourth place in the Drivers’ Championship, and wanting more.
Q: From Spa it’s straight to Monza; how do you feel about these back-to-back races? There are rather a lot of back-to-backs in the second half of the year…
KR: Most of all a racing driver wants to race. That is what we do. It’s our passion. That means I feel good going to these back-to-back races, especially when they are to circuits like Spa- Francorchamps and Monza. What is not to like?
Q: In Spa you have achieved your most wins, but in Monza you have none. Time to rectify that?
KR: It’s true that I have never won in Italy. For one reason or another things just did not work out for me. It doesn’t mean I can’t drive the track. Just because I have not won at a circuit in the past it doesn’t mean that I won’t win or get a good result there in the future. Hopefully we will have a real chance to fight for that victory this time.
Q: How do you feel about Monza as a place?
KR: Monza is the real home of the Tifosi and there will be a lot of the Finnish fans, too. It’s the place where we go really, really fast. It’s great to go there with everything working well in the car and seeing how quickly you can go. Last time I raced in Monza I was a Ferrari driver. I have always enjoyed the atmosphere at Monza but it was very special as a Ferrari driver. I hope they will still like to see me racing there even if I could be in front of a Ferrari. I am really looking forward to see all the fans and I think it will be a pretty special feeling if I’m on the podium as a Lotus driver too.
Q: What about the challenges of the circuit?
KR: Monza always gives a great challenge. It’s so unique compared with the more modern circuits as the layout means the car needs to be setup differently. To go fast at Monza you need a good aerodynamic car that is stable over the kerbs with a strong engine, as we are using full throttle for most of the lap. I think we should be pretty good in those areas but we won’t know exactly how good until we get out on track.
Q: Spa was quite a difficult race for you?
KR: My car wasn’t very nice to drive and we did struggle all weekend. We lost Friday’s running due to the weather, but that was the same for everyone. In qualifying we were fighting for the second row and I wasn’t expecting an easy ride in the race, and it turned out to be pretty difficult. Because the car was sliding around more than we wanted we had to put more downforce on it, which meant it was slow in a straight line. It made for some interesting racing with Michael [Schumacher] as he was able to get back past me because he had better top speed. His speed also meant I couldn’t get past him on the straights as I was on the limiter.
Q: You eventually made it stick through Eau Rouge – that was quite some move…
KR: I had to just take a chance to overtake him with the KERS into Eau Rouge. It’s always good to get past another car and Michael never makes it easy. The move paid off – but even then he almost got me still back which shows us that we didn’t really have the speed in the car. I was happy to leave Spa with a third place and it’s good to be back in fourth in the Drivers’ Championship, let’s see what we can do in Monza.