As one of only four drivers on this year’s grid who has raced at this track before, Kimi Raikkonen seemed delighted to be here when he spoke to the media this afternoon. “First of all I have to say I like racing in Europe!” began the Scuderia Ferrari driver. “This is a nice place to come and they seem to have built a lot of new facilities. I have good memories of this circuit and I think the track makes for pretty good racing. The layout means you can overtake and so I am very happy to be here. I think this circuit should suit us better than Canada, which, along with Bahrain, was the most difficult for us. But at the moment, I am just guessing. We must wait and see what happens tomorrow.”
Last weekend, a Ferrari won its class in the Le Mans 24 Hours race and Raikkonen was asked if that’s a race he would like to tackle. “I enjoy racing and Le Mans is one of the things that would be on the top of my list, as a very famous race,” replied the Finn. “I would have to see what happens in the future, but for sure there is some interest in doing that race, but at the moment, it’s too early to say. Rallycross would also be nice to try as it looks good fun. I enjoy Rallying a lot, it’s a difficult sport with a good challenge, but Le Mans is probably closest to Formula 1. It’s good to try different things because it’s good fun and you always learn something.”
Kimi also had words of praise for the Scuderia’s new Team Principal, Marco Mattiacci. “Everybody has their own way of doing things and it’s early days for Marco,” said Kimi. “He is a very nice guy who really wants to make a difference. These are good signs and there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes. I think sometimes it can be a good thing when someone comes in from outside Formula 1 with a different view of things. I expect he can do a very good job.”
The spins that Kimi Raikkonen suffered during the Canadian GP weekend were the result of issues related to the engine settings on his Ferrari Formula 1 car, AUTOSPORT has learned.
The Finn suffered two spins exiting the hairpin during the event, once in the second free practice session on Friday and again in the later stages of Sunday’s race.
The 2007 world champion said after the race that he had received a “sudden kick” from the engine at that corner, and Ferrari confirmed to AUTOSPORT in the build-up to this weekend’s Austrian GP that “issues related to engine settings” were to blame for Raikkonen’s rotations.
The Finn said the team had probably not worked hard enough after the first spin to rectify the issue, but is confident of no repeat issues at the Red Bull Ring.
“The same happened in practice exactly and I spun exactly the same way,” Raikkonen said when asked by AUTOSPORT to explain why he spun in Canada.
“It’s just many things came together and it can happen.
“We know now that now and we probably knew after practice, but really didn’t put enough thoughts into it to make sure it will not happen again.
“I’m sure now we’ve made a lot of changes that it should not happen anymore.”
Raikkonen is also hopeful the layout of the Red Bull Ring, which returns to the F1 calendar after a 10-year absence, will better suit the F14 T than Montreal.
“I think this should be better than Canada,” Raikkonen added.
“[But] it’s not an awful lot different to Canada, which has long straights and chicanes; here is long straights [too], three high-speed corners and that’s about it.
“Bahrain and Canada are the most difficult places for us right now.
“Hopefully we find out it’s pretty good here, but it’s just guessing.
“We’ll see how it goes tomorrow and get the first idea.”
Ferrari and Mercedes are to conduct tests with titanium skid blocks in Austrian Grand Prix Friday practice, with teams now set on bringing back sparking cars to Formula 1.
AUTOSPORT revealed earlier this year that F1 teams were looking at ways to make cars more spectacular, considering ideas including sparking cars, glowing brake discs and vapour trails.
Discussions about the ideas have moved forward, and AUTOSPORT has learned that teams and other representatives on the F1 Commission have given provisional approval for the sparks plan to come into force for 2015.
The current idea is for the sparks to be created by mandating titanium skid blocks within the planks of the cars.
Work is now ongoing among the teams to work out where to locate the skid blocks to produce the best sparks.
As part of those efforts, Ferrari will fit Kimi Raikkonen’s car with two skid blocks for the opening day of running at the Red Bull Ring, with Mercedes fitting some in a different position on Nico Rosberg’s car.
It is understood that Mercedes and Ferrari are unlikely to make any other changes to the cars, such as lowering the ride height, to enhance the chances of sparks being produced.
The work in Austria will likely be just the first step in a number of tests that will take place over the remainder of the season to ensure that the rule is successful when it comes into force for 2015.
The introduction of mandatory skid blocks still needs to be ratified by the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council, which is meeting in Munich next week.