Kimi Räikkönen’s season has so far consisted as a struggle to produce a more responsive front end of his Ferrari and it has been much talk in the F1 paddock.
Turun Sanomat spoke to Mark Slade, Räikkönen’s race engineer at McLaren and Lotus, who now deals with Pastor Maldonado’s troubles.
Q: What kind of front end of Kimi ‘s driving style does he require?
MS: Kimi is clinically clean and has a very smooth driving style. He needs a car that works with him in the same way – not against him. The vast majority of those cars were the ones which I have been working with at McLaren and Lotus, with Kimi. Kimi has a very special style to take the car. Therefore, the car must act exactly as he wants it to happen with his driving style. I can understand that, if the team has done various jobs for a long time with the driver, and then Kimi will be in the garage, it will take time to get used to what Kimi needs.
Q: Did Räikkönen have then the same difficulties at the beginning with Lotus?
MS: Kimi was pretty happy with the car immediately. He did not like it’s steering though. He did not like how it reacts, and it took a while, then he was happier with that too. One of the reasons why Kimi was so fast immediately after returning from rally was that the Lotus car had already served for a time a sharp front end and it suited him well. It is something we did not have to change very much so Kimi was even faster then. With steering he was not fully satisfied, but at the end of the day it did not have a major impact on his results. But when it was better, Kimi went even faster. With balance, he was happy anyway.
Q: How surprised were you to see the problems experienced by Räikkönen’s Ferrari?
MS: It is a surprise, when I know Kimi is still a very fast driver. Therefore, the surprise has been to see that he is not able to push so hard, as I know what he could do. It is clear that they must be able to resolve the details of his car, so that Kimi will be able to drive back to their capabilities accordingly.
Q: Did McLaren have similar problems for Kimi like now driving a Ferrari?
MS: Not at all, but of course there were some specific events, when there was more trouble. Last year with the Lotus we had great trouble in order to obtain the tyre operating temperature, particularly in late season. When this year’s tyres are also very difficult to be used, so Kimi’s driving style may be one of the difficulties. However, I am very confident that as long as the Ferrari is able to make the changes Kimi wants, he is the same driver again who is really fast and competitive.
Q: How different are the current Ferrari pair of driving styles between Raikkonen and Alonso?
MS: Fernando prefers a more aggressive car than Kimi.
Q: Who benefits of these new rules?
MS: It may be hard to say, but the most probable explanation of this moment the situation is that this is the fifth year for Fernando at Ferrari, Kimi’s just arrived through the winter. I do not know about Massa’s driving style, but perhaps it is closer to Alonso. The car is certainly more towards Fernando needs, when Kimi may need different. Still, I’m sure that Kimi’s problems are solvable.
(Source: turunsanomat.fi – edited by Evenstar Saima KRS)
Rob Wilson applauds Kimi’s performance at the Spanish Grand Prix: