Another weekend, another new country and race track for the Iceman, who posted the fifth fastest time on day one on track at the Buddh International Circuit. Kimi talks us through his first impressions of the circuit.
Q: It’s been the first day’s running for you out on track; talk us through your day…
KR: I think it was okay and we didn’t have any issues. On the soft tyres the car felt very nice and we had good pace. On the hard tyres we felt good too, but I don’t think we got them working well enough to get as much pace from them as other people could.
Q: What are your thoughts of the circuit? It’s the first time you’ve been here, what are you initial impressions?
KR: The circuit is nice. I think it’s easier to learn than the Korean track; it’s not as technical but it’s good. It’s always nice to come to a new place like this – I’ve been racing for many years, and you always end up going to the same places, so it’s good when you get a new place and a new circuit. For sure we can still improve our times on one lap but I think we are not too far away from our maximum speed. Of course I hope that we are faster than McLaren as we were today, but you can never tell during practice sessions, as you may get one great lap, while another team has a mistake.
Q: Do you think the Coandă exhaust system is a step in the right direction?
KR: It is now the same on both cars, so we wouldn’t use it if we didn’t think it was better! We already have more developments to the system since Korea. You do lose some horsepower with it, and so we struggle a bit on the straights, but hopefully we can keep improving for the coming races and gain some more speed.
Q: How do you feel the development battle has gone this season?
KR: For sure the teams ahead are bigger than us and have more money to build things, more people to make the parts, and unfortunately money makes a big difference in this sport. But we haven’t done badly, that’s for sure, especially if you compare us with the bigger teams that we’re fighting against. It’s disappointing that we’re not there, but we have to be realistic as we’ve still done a pretty good job this year.
Q: Do you feel that all the improvements to this car have been made already and that the focus should shift to next year?
KR: No we will still try to improve this car, because everything we do now will help us for next year. It’s not wasting our time, and the developments we make now will perhaps go on the new car anyhow so we’ll all keep pushing and working hard. It’s not easy to find half a second and at this stage of the year it’s amazingly tricky to find a small amount of progress, but we’ll keep trying of course.
There was once a dastardly, politically-motivated plot to kidnap an F1 world champion? True. Kimi Raikkonen was the man held captive? Err…not quite. F1 legend from the 1950s, five-time world champion Juan Manuel Fangio was kidnapped in 1957 during the Cuba Grand Prix at the behest of Fidel Castro. Castro and 82 supporters sailed to Cuba on the Granma with one aim – to start a revolution and overthrow the Batista government. The guerrillas captured Fangio at gunpoint on the day of the race with the intention of releasing him after the race, which they duly did.
Raikkonen’s ‘kidnapping’ was slightly different, maybe you’ve even seen it (the video has gone viral on YouTube). A refreshing change from sportsmen announcing contract deals through dull press releases, scripted conferences or bland advertisements. No, he didn’t ask you to join his pit crew as some F1 drivers have, nor has he offered your business logo space on his car as others have done. The best part is, he doesn’t need to!
The dotted line
As the scene opens you see a couple of street toughs driving a man, with a black bag over his head, to a dingy caravan site. They enter the caravan, gypsy music playing in the background. The black bag is removed, and the man who’s been kidnapped is… Raikkonen.
Sitting on a round table with a bunch of local heavies, the Finn is given a contract and a pen. None too pleased, Raikkonen lets his captors know how he feels about the situation, spitting on the contract. The heavies, though, have done their research and aren’t unduly taken aback by the initial refusal.
They then proceed to show Raikkonen an album of ‘personal’ photographs. And that’s that.
True to form
While it may have been an advertisement for a clothing label, it doesn’t seem that out of place to think that this is how Kimi signs his contracts.
On a paddock packed with trained, media-savvy drivers, Raikkonen’s insouciant ways are a throwback to the playboy days of1976 world champion James Hunt, who among other feats bedded 33 Britsh Airways stewardesses, fuelled by a steady supply of alcohol, cannabis and cocaine in the two weeks leading up to the title decider in Tokyo.
Hunt is something of a kindred spirit to Raikkonen, once the Finn even went power-boating under that alias to avoid pesky reporters and angry bosses at Maranello. Other times, he’s gone dressed as a gorilla. He’s loves zipping around in snowmobiles, he quit F1 at his peak to test his skills in the demanding World Rally Championship. Raikkonen loves speed…and we’re not even talking about amphetamines! (Though he does like the odd shot of vodka, pint of beer, cup of glögi…You get the picture).
Mockery without end
The Finn is famously, even comically, monosyllabic in what little interactions he has with the media, but from time to time he’s opened up, especially when Hunt is the topic of discussion, as he was during this year’s Monaco GP when he wore a replica Hunt. Racing was very interesting back then, said the driver, who at many times has appeared disinterested in the grind that is the life of a modern F1 driver.
You can see that in his antics over the years – at the 2006 Brazilian GP all drivers took time for a Kodak moment with Pele. Kimi was conspicuous by his absence. When anchorman Martin Brundle asked him what he was doing, his poker-faced reply was, “Yeah, I was having a s**t”; Or when he’s dealing with journalists, dismissing most questions even before they’ve been uttered with bizarre wit and mockery without end. “Your most boring part of an F1 weekend,” asked one journalist, “Now,” was Raikkonen’s curt reply.
Answers that may not win him many fans on the grid but ensure a cult following among fans looking to support the righteous outlaw! >
The afternoon session here in India saw Kimi and Romain complete a number of race simulation runs as the pair pushed – and occasionally surpassed – the boundaries of the Buddh International Circuit to end the day in P5 / P9 respectively.
Kimi Räikkönen, E20-05
Fastest Lap: 1:27.030
Laps Completed: 40
00mins: Straight out on news hard tyres for a first run
22mins: Second stint; used hard rubber this time around
40mins: First appearance for the softs; straight to the top of the time sheets
48mins: P1 at the halfway stage
55mins: Switch back to used hard tyres; long run analysis on the agenda
90mins: Session ends; P5 for the Finn
- Both Kimi and Romain picked up the pace at with relative ease on their first visit to the Buddh International Circuit
- A number of drivers struggled for grip on the dusty surface, particularly through the T5 / T6 / T7 sequence
- Romain endured a couple of big moments as the Frenchman explored the limits of the track
- Kimi suffered from mild turn-in understeer early in the session; corrected with setup tweaks as running progressed
- Both the silver marked hard and yellow marked soft compound Pirelli tyres were used by each driver
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m26.221 35 2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m26.339s + 0.118 33 3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m26.820s + 0.599 34 4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m27.022s + 0.801 38 5. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m27.030s + 0.809 40 6. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m27.131s + 0.910 38 7. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m27.182s + 0.961 24 8. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m27.233s + 1.012 37 9. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m27.397s + 1.176 36 10. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m27.738s + 1.517 36 11. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m28.004s + 1.783 32 12. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m28.178s + 1.957 39 13. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m28.222s + 2.001 37 14. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m28.239s + 2.018 37 15. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m28.296s + 2.075 23 16. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m28.455s + 2.234 40 17. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m28.596s + 2.375 38 18. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m29.167s + 2.946 35 19. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m29.320s + 3.099 43 20. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m29.606s + 3.385 22 21. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m30.950s + 4.729 37 22. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m31.113s + 4.892 35 23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m31.372s + 5.151 20 24. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m31.493s + 5.272 31
A slow start to the Indian Grand Prix weekend saw limited on-track action during the opening stages of Free Practice 1, with circuit conditions eventually improving as Kimi and Romain claimed P10 / P15 respectively on their first outing at the Buddh International Circuit.
Kimi Räikkönen, E20-05
Fastest Lap: 1:29.291
Laps Completed: 24
00mins: Install lap on hard tyres
37mins: Opening run; quickly getting to grips with the new circuit
68mins: Second outing; assessment of new front wing design the priority
87mins: Last stint; brief foray on track with a pit stop simulation to end the morning
90mins: Chequered flag; P10 for the Finn
- Kimi and Romain took to the Budd International Circuit for the very first time
- A very green track limited running for all teams during the opening 30mins
- Both E20s featured the team’s new Coandă exhaust system
- Kimi trialled a new variation of front wing
- Silver marked hard compound Pirelli tyres were used exclusively throughout running
- Both drivers completed practice pit stops to end the session
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m27.619 22 2. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m27.929s + 0.310 22 3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m28.044s + 0.425 24 4. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m28.046s + 0.427 25 5. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m28.175s + 0.556 22 6. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m28.447s + 0.828 25 7. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m28.542s + 0.923 24 8. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m28.993s + 1.374 23 9. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m29.204s + 1.585 24 10. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m29.291s + 1.672 24 11. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m29.691s + 2.072 26 12. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m29.760s + 2.141 23 13. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m29.802s + 2.183 1$ 14. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m29.850s + 2.231 19 15. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m29.895s + 2.276 19 16. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m30.041s + 2.422 26 17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m30.401s + 2.782 23 18. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m30.630s + 3.011 24 19. Giedo Van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m30.896s + 3.277 20 20. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m31.212s + 3.593 29 21. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m31.903s + 4.284 22 22. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m32.125s + 4.506 24 23. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m32.369s + 4.750 19 24. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m32.859s + 5.240 13
Kimi Räikkönen – FP1: 10th/FP2: 5th: “The circuit is nice. For me it was easier to learn than the Korean track ; it’s not as technical but it’s good. It’s always nice to come to a new place like this – I’ve been racing for many years, and you always end up going to the same places so it’s good when you get a new place and a new circuit. For sure we can still improve on one lap but I think we are not far away from our maximum speed. Of course I hope that we are faster than McLaren. Our car was working well, especially on soft tyres but with the hard tyres it was more difficult to find grip.”
Romain Grosjean – FP1: 15th/9th: “It’s been very hard to set-up the car as the track has been evolving a lot through the day ; from zero grip in the morning to much better in the afternoon. However, we’ve made good progress today and we’re working on improving further overnight. There are a few blind corners, and some quick places where you don’t want to make mistakes either. Hopefully we find the car we want for qualifying and get what we want tomorrow.”
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director: “Both drivers got up to speed pretty quickly on a new track once more. We spent the morning session evaluating the new front wing and some new rear diffuser parts ; we need to investigate further the diffuser parts but the new front wing looks good so we’ll run it with both cars for the remainder of the weekend. We were able to conduct an uninterrupted FP2 programme, running both tyres reasonably early on, followed by a long run on the soft compound. We’re missing a little pace on the hard tyre so we’re investigating our tyre temperatures and pressures, however on the softer tyre our car looks very competitive on both low and high fuel loads. It would be nice to squeeze another two or three tenths out of the car in qualifying, but nevertheless we confident of the potential for a good show tomorrow.”