Kimi: Lotus give me the space to be myself

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Sometimes things you really did not expect to happen, happen. This can be said about our attempt to have an interview with Kimi Räikkönen. Before the opening of F1-Areena we sent an email to Lotus asking if Kimi had the time to answer some questions. Surprisingly, a positive response was received almost immediately and thus the questions were sent to our World Champion. Now, just a week later, the answers are here. F1-Areena has actually interviewed Kimi Räikkönen!

Q: What is your opinion of the Pirelli tires this year? Is the more severe degradation a step forwards or backwards?

KR: The tyres don’t feel too different to be honest. The strength of the car last year meant that we were able to manage the tyres quite well and make them last, and you can see in Australia that we did that very well. I think we’ve built on the good basis that we had last year and kept that for our car now.

Q: Lotus seems to lose some of its speed on a wet track. Do you know why it affects you more than Romain and is there something that can be done to make the situation better?

KR: I don’t think you can really say we have lost lots of speed in the wet weather. In the Malaysian Grand Prix I had quite a bit of damage to my car towards the end which meant that my pace was not as good as normal. It’s hard to compare at different circuits and under different conditions. We know what we need to do to progress and we will keep doing it.

Q: How different is your driving style compared to Romain? Are you able to use each others settings?

KR: We hide nothing from each other. The team has debriefs and briefings all together, with both drivers and all the engineers, so if there is something that can help both of us then we share it. Romain drove my car in Barcelona at the test when I was ill, and worked with my engineers, so everything is in the open with the team. Of course we drive differently, no driver is the same, but at the end of the day we both want to do well and get the best results for the team.

Q: How much PR work do you have with Lotus and how does it compare to previous teams?

KR: The work is ok here. For me, I would rather just be driving of course, but I think the team understand very well how I am, and give me the space to be myself. I feel very comfortable here, and that we all work together.

Q: How has the handling of F1 cars changed during your career? Which year’s car was the best to drive?

KR: I found the car quite good to drive after the two year break, and it’s something I found not too difficult as it comes quite naturally. You just need to get in and get on with it. But like I said in Australia this year, the car I’m driving now felt as good as then as when I was driving the McLaren winning car.

Q: What kind of things do you follow about F1 in media or the Internet?

KR: I don’t really follow much news about F1 on the internet or in the papers. I know the results and where everyone is in the championship, so it doesn’t really matter what other people say about me – it’s not really of any interest.

Q: What do you do on your free time, when your not driving or travelling?

KR: I like to spend time with my friends and not think too much about F1 when I’m not racing. I enjoy other sports, like ice hockey, and snowmobile, so I just try to have as much fun as possible.

Q: Are we going to see you driving a WRC car or in some other racing series (Le mans?) sometime in the future?

KR: You can never say never for these things but I don’t know. I don’t really think about the future all too much, so we will have to wait and see what happens. You never know how you will feel later on.

Q: What plans do you have after your career?

KR: Like I said before, it’s not something I really think about. We’ll see what happens when I decide that I don’t want to race anymore, but it’s not something I’m really thinking about at the moment.

Q: What do you reckon could be done better on the coaching level, to allow young Finnish drivers reach F1 easier?

KR: Of course the level of coaching can always be improved, but I think Finland does a great job and there is lots of talent in our country. There have been some very famous Finnish people in F1 and in racing, so I hope that is continues for the future. It’s quite a challenge to reach Formula One now, but if you really are the best and do the best you possibly can, then you will get there.

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