Kimi Raikkonen is a man under pressure, but not that you’d notice talking to him. Speaking in the privacy of Shell’s trackside laboratory at the Austrian Grand Prix, ESPN sat down briefly with the 2007 world champion to discuss both F1’s future and his own.
Kimi, you’ve driven V10 F1 cars, V8s and now these V6 turbos. Which of those was the most fun and why did it appeal to you?
Obviously the cars are a bit slower now and as a driver you always want to go faster and obviously in the past the cars were faster, the tyres were better, softer … they were different, but they were faster. Obviously we changed tyres [when Pirelli arrived in 2011], but I think the old tyres were more fun to drive because you could push all the time, but now you have to save fuel, save tyres, save this, save that. It feels much more strict now, it’s still on the edge at times, but it’s not pure pushing on the limits. So it’s not like it used to be, the grip is less, you cannot attack certain corners, so I prefer the cars from the early 2000s to late 2000s. They were probably the nicest cars. The whole package and the rules dictate a lot what happens, so the rule changes have been the biggest hit that has been taken.
But does F1 need to make more rule changes to get back to where it was in the 2000s?
The rules themselves have changed a lot [since the 2000s] and they have tried to make it more of a show and more entertaining, but let’s be honest, we also got a lot of overtaking done in those years without any devices. It was more of a show in some respects, because there were more faster cars and obviously the rules have changed, but they need to do something to bring it back to what is really F1. It’s supposed to be the fastest thing on a race circuit and when you ask people now they probably don’t think it.
Is it not also a problem for the spectacle that one team is running away with it all the time?
But that happens – not always, but often. When I started it was Ferrari all the time, then it was the Red Bulls and now it is Mercedes. One team gets things perfectly fine then obviously the gap is much bigger and then when they keep making rule changes there is always a bigger chance that one team gets it right and other teams have to start to catch up. If you keep the rules for many years then at some point it will close up. You will never avoid a dominant team with the rules, one team will always win. People complain when it’s not them, but then in one year or two years it might have changed.
Ferrari has made progress towards closing the gap to Mercedes this year, how confident are you that you will be part of that progress going forward into next year?
You have to ask the team, it’s not really in my hands. Obviously they want more all the time and it hasn’t been an ideal start to the year, but we make progress all the time. As a team we have made a big, big step from where we were last year to where we are now. I’m sure we have made a bigger step than all the other teams, but obviously it is still not enough to be where we want to be, but it’s not easy and we need time. We keep going in the right direction and the people in the team are obviously still not enjoying to finish third and second, we want to be consistently able to win races at every race. But as long as we continue to do the same thing and go in the same direction, I’m sure we will get there. But we cannot make miracles in the next few months.
Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene says all he needs is “good performances” from you in order to be persuaded to keep you next year, so what do you need to do to meet his expectations?
I’ll do my best and if it’s not enough then it’s not enough. We are not far away from where we can be maximum happy with where we finish, but obviously that is still not enough for us. We want to win races, but unfortunately we are not exactly in that position even if we have a straightforward race. Obviously we will just keep working. I’m not worried about next year too much, if it happens it happens and if not then you can say that I’m happy and the team is going the right way and everybody is enjoying much more. But still there is a lot of work to be done to be 100% happy as a team and for me as well. Time will tell.
| Source: espn.co.uk |