My tenth season in Formula One is about to be finished. It has been a good year. We have had some good weekends and some not that good ones; But all in all, you never have a perfect season in this sport, so a decent series of races with good points collected from them, makes me feel happy.
The last, but not the least, is the Brazilian Grand Prix. I have never raced there so late, in the end of November, but it seems to give the same exciting challenge like always. My target is the get to the podium; it would be my eight time this year, if we get it right.
We push until the very end to have a good weekend for this one, too. I know it doesn’t help a single bit for 2013, but it’s a nice feeling to go to a holiday with some good racing under your belt from Brazil.
The greatest day of my life ever happened in October 2007, while I won the world championship in Brazil. Interlagos is probably the furthest track measured from my home, but the memories I’ve got there, makes it a very fond place for me forever.
Obviously Interlagos is one of the old-type of racing circuits I like very much. You never know, what happens during a Grand Prix weekend, and in Brazil, you have to be twice as well prepared to meet all kinds of changing circumstances and the most surprising incidents.
The car should be ok for this circuit. We have tested it until the very last FP3 in Austin, and this time we can run it for the Brazil challenge only. We hope for a clean and solid weekend with no problems in practice, a nice clean lap in qualifying and then a strong race with the good start.
You need good strong all round package and good behaving engine for this circuit. The first and the final corner are a challenge of their own, while we end up the lap coming from a corner leading on to the steep main straight.
Being the last race of the season means that it’s the last chance to enjoy a race feeling for some time.
After the highs of Abu Dhabi, sixth position in Austin didn’t quite deliver the wanted digestif for our Iceman. No matter, as he now heads to one of his favourite racing destinations…
Q: Looking back to Austin, what are your thoughts on the race ?
KR: It was okay but not a very easy one for us. I got a bad start and then I touched with a Force India at the second corner so I lost a few more places. After that the car was okay and I could get past some of the others. The difficult part of the race was when it became cloudy. It got too cold and the tyres stopped working for me. Then it was sunny and they started to work again, so really we were just depending on the tyres and that’s what made all the difference. The circuit was giving good racing and there were a lot of places to overtake ; for us the issue was just keeping heat in the tyres.
Q: You had a pretty exciting battle with Jenson Button…
KR: Yes it was good and I enjoy that type of racing. Unfortunately, Jenson caught me when it was cloudy and the tyres weren’t working so well, otherwise I’d have put up a better fight and maybe he wouldn’t have got past even though he was on much newer tyres. That’s how it goes. We struggled with the tyres all weekend ; we set good times at the start of the race with the softer tyres, but lost the heat with the hards in the middle of the race and then they picked up again at the end.
Q: What are your memories from Interlagos ?
KR: There is no doubt about it ; the greatest day of my career came at Interlagos when I won the World Championship in 2007 and that means I have very fond memories of this place. All in all it has been good to me. I have finished here every year since 2003 and been on the podium five times. Actually, in 2003 they gave the winners’ trophy to me but afterwards it turned out I only got P2. I have lived some of the best moments of my life at this circuit, and that’s something nobody can take away. That’s why it is one of my favourite places to go back to.
Q: What’s the main challenge of the track ?
KR: To do well in São Paulo you need to have a very solid weekend without problems. Obviously, qualifying on the front row is very important as is a good strong all round package. Also, the engine is important for getting up the hill. I think the key factor is once again downforce, but it’s also important to have a stable car under braking. The final corner is very important to get right, because it leads onto the steep main straight.
Q: How do you rate this track ?
KR: I like the old fashioned type of circuits. Interlagos is not in the same group as Spa or Suzuka, but it’s challenging and we run the laps anti clock-wise which is different from normal. The atmosphere from the crowds is always very good and you never know how the race will be as the weather changes quickly and often.
Q: Is it nice to reach race twenty in your comeback season without any DNFs ?
KR: I like racing, so it’s good to be on track as much as possible ; no-one likes ending a race early. Our record shows that the team can build a reliable car and that I know how to drive it. The last round of the season means that it’s the last chance to enjoy that feeling for some time. That’s what a driver loves ; to put a helmet on and go racing. Every time I get in the car I want to fight for victory and this is no different ; I want to celebrate a good result with the team in Brazil. That would give the best feeling for the winter and also for next season.
Q. Gentlemen, a question to you all to start with: what are your impressions of the circuit so far; your feelings about being back in America. What it’s like to be back here?
KR: I’ve only seen the video from when they did the demo run here, but I haven’t seen the circuit itself. I will see tomorrow how it goes.
Q. You won’t even walk the circuit this afternoon?
KR: I don’t know yet. I’ll have to see.
Q. After the comment from the last grand prix, it’s good to see…
KR: Well, I mean, if I found a golf cart or something.
Q. Kimi, winner of the last grand prix, what has changed in terms of your feeling coming to a grand prix. Has anything changed?
KR: Not really. Of course the team is happy, I’m happy that we finally win but it’s a new place, new race again and we try to do the best. I don’t expect we suddenly going to start winning or being in front. Probably it’s going to be very similar to where we’ve been in the last races in top five and then go from there and see what happens.
Q. Have they all brought their T-shirts with them?
KR: I don’t know, I just arrived here. I don’t know yet.
Q. (Pierre van Vliet – F1i Magazine) Lewis and Kimi: if you have a winning package this weekend – if after qualifying you realise you have a chance, what can you do not to disturb the World Championship battle between these two?
LH: Go for it Kimi, I would love to hear what you have to say.
KR: We try to do the best that we can as a team in the race, and wherever we end up, if we take some points out of either of them, that’s racing, that’s life. We don’t try to disturb anything, we’re just doing our normal race and see what happens. I’m not looking who is there or if I’m taking points from them or somebody else. We just try to win, if not, score as much as we can.
LH: It was a good answer. Yeah. We have no means to try and get in the way of anyone, but we want to beat them, we’re still fighting for position in the championship, even though we’re not fighting for the top position so we just have to focus on our job. Kimi did a great job in the last race. I think we were very strong as well, hopefully we will have less reliability issues this weekend and hopefully we can compete right at the front with all these guys.
Q. (Carlos Miguel – La Gaceta) Question for Kimi, Pedro, Lewis and Segio; between Sebastian and Fernando, who would be your bet for the championship?
KR: I think whoever scores most points will get it and deserves it. Right now Sebastian is in a bit of a stronger position but we’ve seen before many times that you have one bad race and things are completely different.
We Can Work It Out
Finally we showed what we can do, while we got everything together during a Grand Prix weekend at Abu Dhabi. The car had the speed to win. We just needed to get it to clean air to get the speed out of it.
Winning the Grand Prix meant a lot for all of us. We proved ourselves in a time, while the focus is more and more for the next year.
I made a new deal with the Lotus F1 Team, and now we know, we have a contract with a winning team. Obviously, it was a different activity, when we joined forces with them a year ago.
Now we head for the last two races of the season. This weekend we will have a long-awaited Grand Prix back in USA. I never won in Indianapolis, so winning in the States would be a brand new experience for me.
Obviously, winning is always a very tricky task and it’s better to wait and see, how it goes in Austin and leave the speculations for the media.
This will be the third new circuit for me this year. This time it’s a new one for everybody, so all of us start from zero on Friday morning collecting the experience from this place.
I don’t know anything about Austin, just the name Circuit of the Americas, but I think we will see some similiar characteristics in this circuit compared to some other new venues, while they are all designed by the same man.
I have always liked to go the new places. I’m looking forward to this one, especially as I enjoy the American atmosphere.
Actually it’s only 18 months since my last race on US soil, while I went to try the NASCAR and I did a couple of races on the Charlotte oval. I really liked it a lot.
After seeing the excitement of the American fans of NASCAR, I hope people will enjoy Formula One racing in Texas, too.