Lotus: Freedom key to Raikkonen success
Lotus believes the key to making Kimi Raikkonen’s Formula 1 comeback a success was in allowing the Finn to focus on his racing.
Raikkonen took his first triumph since the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix with victory in Abu Dhabi, just a week after he re-signed with Lotus for another year.
Team principal Eric Boullier believes that one of the main factors in allowing Raikkonen to do so well on his return to F1 has been in giving him the right atmosphere to get on with his job.
When asked by AUTOSPORT if the way Lotus has handled him has boosted Raikkonen, Boullier said: “You should ask him – but I believe yes. This is something I was keen on from the beginning.
“The first time I met him I talked to him for two hours in my office. And clearly you could see the guy was not happy, because the enjoyment of Kimi is racing and winning.
“Beyond that, you need to ensure that his agenda and schedule is variable.”
Boullier also sees the future getting even better for team and drivers now that their relationships have bedded down.
“It is just a question of more experience and time,” he explained. “In one way we had two new drivers this year, so to build a team, and build a winning team, you need so many parameters in place.
“One is time and experience, and we learned this year with our drivers that there can be ups and downs. Now, Kimi is right there for both qualifying and the race.”
“The most important thing is to show everybody that Lotus is serious,” Boullier said when asked by AUTOSPORT about what impact this result would have on the team.
“We have shown that we can deliver regular podiums, and we can now say we can win as well.
“Our strategy is that we want to be a top team, I always said this, and to be a top team we need to keep pushing and keep gaining more results, more resources and more sponsors to establish ourselves.
“We are happy to share this success with the people [sponsors] we have on our shirt, but it is also important for the sponsors we are talking with.
“The media will relay the message for us anyway, but obviously this win will help us get some positive decisions in commercial discussions to build us up for the future.”
Raikkonen’s victory comes just three races after the team introduced a major update to its E20, which included the move towards Coanda-effect exhausts.
With Lotus extracting more potential from the design at each race, Boullier sees possibilities for another win before the season is out.
“Realistically you can see in Abu Dhabi that we had a strong race, but we needed some factors to make sure that we could win,” he explained.
“We pushed to get the big points and, if we can qualify in the top five, then we will be here. And if there is an opportunity to win, we will take it.”