Lotus won’t break the bank to keep Kimi Raikkonen for F1 2014
Lotus says there is no point in busting the bank to keep Kimi Raikkonen next year, as talks intensify to finalise the Finn’s Formula 1 future.
Raikkonen is considering his options for 2014, but hopes of a switch to Red Bull appear to be over after his manager Steve Robertson revealed on Monday that talks had collapsed.
While Lotus is eager to keep Raikkonen on board, and the former champion has expressed privately that he wants to stay there, the situation depends on the Enstone-based outfit proving that it has the financial and technical package in place to maintain its strong form.
The money situation is a key factor, with Raikkonen having had issues in the past with wage payments being delayed.
That background means there is no guarantee Raikkonen will commit to a fresh deal with Lotus, with the team admitting that there will be no point in it over-stretching its budget just to keep him.
Speaking before it emerged that the Red Bull discussions were over, team principal Eric Boullier said he would only be happy to keep Raikkonen if the circumstance made sense for both driver and team.
"We haven’t finished the story with Kimi, so we want to keep going," he told AUTOSPORT.
"Kimi is a good figure for the team. Obviously he is a very good driver, and everyone knows how good he is.
"He’s also helping us in terms of awareness to get us into the right place of where we want to be. I think he is a natural fit for the team and the team naturally fits around him.
"I would like to keep him, to be honest, but I want to keep him with the right conditions.
"If we can’t afford him because of finances, then I don’t want to have him because he will be a pain in the arse – and it will difficult to build something on this.
"But if we can have him, then I would like to keep him."
Lotus is still finalising a deal with investment partner Infinity Racing that it hopes will provide it with exactly the kind of financial stability that Raikkonen is seeking.
Analysis: could Kimi Raikkonen rejoin Ferrari for F1 2014?
With Kimi Raikkonen no longer in the Red Bull running, his best alternative outside Lotus if a deal cannot be agreed appears to be Ferrari.
The Italian team, which Raikkonen drove for from 2007-09, winning the title in his first season, could have a seat available if it chooses to replace Felipe Massa in 2014.
Raikkonen’s manager Steve Robertson has rubbished talk that an agreement is already in place for him to return to Maranello, but admitted to AUTOSPORT that Ferrari was on Raikkonen’s radar as a consideration.
"It’s an option," said Robertson. "My job is to talk to all the teams that have available seats, and that is what I will be doing."
Ferrari, however, is not yet devoting any effort to worrying about its 2014 driver line-up, because its priority is to rediscover the on-track form that Fernando Alonso will need if he is to win the championship.
Sources suggest that Ferrari’s senior management will only be ready to consider its driver options after the Italian Grand Prix – by which time it should have a clearer picture of its competitiveness and Massa’s form.
That means Raikkonen may have to wait for a few more weeks before he can make progress on his Formula 1 future.
Although Raikkonen’s departure from Ferrari to make way for Alonso was not on the best of terms, it is understood there is no underlying reason that would make it impossible for him to return – and that Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo would accept it if he was the best driver available.
However, there is also no shortage of other available options – including Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta.
RECAP: RAIKKONEN AT FERRARI
Michael Schumacher was edged towards the F1 exit to allow Raikkonen to join Ferrari in 2007, as the Finn left McLaren after a promising but ultimately frustrating five seasons of showing great pace but missing out on titles.
Raikkonen rectified that in his first season at Ferrari, winning on his debut in red in Melbourne.
He then put a mid-year lull behind him to surge through and beat McLaren duo Lewis Hamilton and Alonso to the crown amid the backdrop of the McLaren/Ferrari spygate scandal.
But Raikkonen ended up playing second fiddle to team-mate Felipe Massa in 2008 and could only win once in ’09 as a furious Ferrari was caught off-guard by rivals’ interpretation of diffuser rules. He left for the World Rally Championship at the end of the year.
RAIKKONEN’S FERRARI STATS
2007 2008 2009 Wins 6 2 1 Poles 3 2 0 Champ pos 1st 3rd 6th Points 110 75 48
Kimi Raikkonen’s Red Bull talks end, Daniel Ricciardo set for seat
Daniel Ricciardo is now set to secure the second Red Bull Formula 1 seat for 2014, with talks between the team and Kimi Raikkonen having come to an end.
Amid growing speculation that Red Bull had decided to pick Ricciardo, Raikkonen’s manager Steve Robertson told AUTOSPORT on Monday that the Finn was no longer a contender to line-up alongside Sebastian Vettel next year.
Robertson confirmed the news, which first appeared in Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat, that the former world champion’s discussions with Red Bull had come to an end.
"It’s true," said Robertson. "Kimi will not be driving for Red Bull in 2014. We held some talks, but a deal will not be happening."
Red Bull had openly admitted that its choice for Mark Webber’s replacement was between Raikkonen and Ricciardo – despite being made aware in Hungary that Fernando Alonso could be available too.
Raikkonen had always been happy to stay at Lotus for 2014, but the prospect of racing for reigning champion Red Bull was given serious consideration.
The Finn’s representatives opened negotiations with Red Bull, as the team weighed up whether to opt for Raikkonen’s experience and guaranteed speed, or put its faith in a youngster like Ricciardo as a long term prospect.
Although Red Bull is insisting that it is not in a position yet to announce its 2014 drivers, Robertson’s revelation that Raikkonen is now out of the running points to a Ricciardo deal being a formality.
An announcement about Red Bull’s plans could be made as soon as this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, although the team may opt to wait for the following race in Italy.
Should Ricciardo be confirmed, he will move up to Red Bull’s main team after two full seasons with its junior Toro Rosso outfit. He also competed in 11 races for HRT in 2011.
RAIKKONEN HAS OTHER ‘OPTIONS’
The collapse of the Red Bull talks means that Raikkonen’s best option to remain in competitive machinery in 2014 is to finalise a fresh deal with Lotus.
But such a deal is not a formality, amid questions about the financial health of the team, with Raikkonen having been paid late on some occasions.
Robertson said that Lotus was just one possibility for Raikkonen as talks continued with a number of teams.
"We are pretty confident that Kimi will be in F1 next year," he explained. "There are options – and that is plural – out there and I will continue to talk to teams. I am hopeful we will sort something out in the not too distant future."
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Kimi Raikkonen ‘wants Ferrari return’ claims Eddie Jordan
A deal for the Finn to return to the team for whom he won the 2007 title may be announced as soon as next month’s Italian Grand Prix, Jordan said.
Ferrari said the claim was "not true" and that no decision had yet been made.
Jordan added that Ricciardo, 24, had already signed to partner Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull next season.
Ricciardo’s promotion from junior team Toro Rosso is to be announced at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, Jordan said.
A Red Bull spokeswoman said: "We don’t have anything to announce at present but will advise when we do."
A Ferrari spokesman said the Italian team were concentrating on improving their car to boost Fernando Alonso’s title challenge.
He added: "This is the exact same scenario as last year – with not only Kimi but a long list of other drivers allegedly going to Ferrari.
"At the moment our priority is produce the car for Fernando and Felipe (Massa) and a decision on the 2014 line-up will be made at the appropriate moment, which is not right now."
On Monday, Raikkonen’s manager Steve Robertson told BBC Sport’s chief F1 writer Andrew Benson that the 20-time grand prix winner, 33, would not be driving for Red Bull next year.
Robertson said: "Talks broke down. We haven’t spoken for a little while and it’s clear Kimi won’t be driving for Red Bull in 2014.
"Kimi’s a free agent. He still has options out there.
"There’s a lot of things happening behind the scenes and I’m pretty confident he will be in F1 next year."
Asked specifically whether Ferrari were an option, he said: "Until they confirm their seats, my job is to speak to all the teams and see what’s available."
Jordan said Raikkonen had made a return to Red Bull his first priority but when talks with the world champions broke down, he turned his attention to Ferrari.
He could also stay with current team Lotus for a third season.
Alonso is under contract until the end of 2016, but Ferrari are considering replacing Massa, who has had an inconsistent season.
BBC Sport understands that senior figures within the Ferrari team want Massa out and are keen for Raikkonen to return but that Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo is not keen on the idea.
Signing Raikkonen would be an admission they had made a mistake when they chose to end his contract a year early at the end of 2009 and pay him not to drive for them in 2010, when Alonso joined.
They preferred Massa as the Spaniard’s partner, despite the Brazilian at the time recovering from a fractured skull sustained in an accident at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix.
Although Raikkonen won the title for Ferrari in 2007, Massa outscored him during the first of their two years together as team-mates, and was doing so again in 2009 at the time of his injury.
World champions Red Bull had made it clear they were choosing between Raikkonen and Ricciardo for the seat that has been made vacant for next season following Mark Webber’s decision to leave F1 to drive for Porsche in sportscar racing.
Raikkonen was a known quantity and would be a choice they could guarantee would at least match the contribution Webber made to three consecutive constructors’ world titles since 2010.
But Ricciardo’s promotion will be a vindication for the Red Bull young driver programme, from which so far only Vettel has graduated to the senior team.
The 24-year-old is also likely to be a malleable choice who will play a support role for Vettel without the friction that developed between the German and Webber and which may well have emerged had Raikkonen, a former world champion, joined the team.
It remains to be seen whether Ricciardo has the ability to cope with the step up to the highest level of F1, and the pressure that brings.
His best result for Toro Rosso is a seventh place, although he has three times qualified sixth.
Kimi Raikkonen’s 2012 Formula 1 season in quotes
Kimi Raikkonen’s Formula 1 comeback was one of the biggest stories of the 2012 season.
He finished a remarkable third in the world championship and even flirted with a title tilt at times, winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to cap a remarkable year.
While the Finn is famous for being monosyllabic, he still came out with plenty of memorable comments over the course of the season.
Kimi Raikkonen: 2012 in quotes
"There has always been talk about the motivation, but the people who write it don’t even know me. There’s always shit going on and I don’t mind if people want to write it. What can I do? I would have stopped if I felt that I didn’t have the motivation."
Telling AUTOSPORT pre-season that he has no problems with motivation
"I feel comfortable here which helps me to focus on racing; I guess that’s why people seem to think I’m a different person, but I’m just as focused and motivated as before."
Free to express himself at Lotus after the first two races of the year
"If you asked me before the start of the season whether I would be happy with podiums I would have said yes, but now I’ve had some good results, I want more."
Wanting wins mid-season
"I have no reason to say I wouldn’t try. I’m not here just to drive around."
Trying to win the world championship
"People always say there’s something special about me and Spa. I like the circuit but I wouldn’t put my money on myself this year or any other year, even though I’ve won there before. It’s not like I’m much better there than anyone else!"
Downplaying his Spa prowess despite his four Belgian Grand Prix wins
"He kept coming left more and more. I tried to go further left but I had nowhere to go."
Explaining the clash with Fernando Alonso at the start of the Japanese Grand Prix
"I would rather be out of second or third place so I don’t have to go to the prizegiving."
Hoping that he wouldn’t have to go to the FIA prize gala… something he ultimately did have to do!
"Leave me alone. I know what I’m doing."
Asking for peace over the radio while leading the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
"Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes. I’m doing it all the time."
Insisting that he didn’t need reminding to keep his tyres warm during the safety car period in Abu Dhabi
"I’m happy, but there’s nothing to jump around about."
Celebrating his first grand prix win since Belgium 2009 in Abu Dhabi
"Where I went off, you can get back on the track by going through the support race pitlane, but you have to go through a gate. I know this as I did the same thing in 2001 and the gate was open that year. Somebody closed it this time. Next year, I’ll make sure it’s open again."
Getting lost while trying to rejoin the track during the Brazilian Grand Prix
Kimi Räikkönen never doubted Lotus’s 2012 F1 title credentials
Kimi Raikkonen never had doubts Lotus would bounce back from its troubled 2011 campaign – as he insists the team has what it takes to gun for the title.
Ahead of what is expected to be a full-on victory bid for Raikkonen and Lotus at the Belgian Grand Prix, the former champion says his Enstone outfit has strengths that can help it overcome bigger budget rivals like McLaren and Ferrari.
Speaking exclusively to AUTOSPORT about why he was so keen to sign for Lotus after its difficult time last year, Raikkonen said: "There have been years when I’ve been in top teams and we’ve had a pretty bad year, and then the next year has been completely different.
"It’s still one of the biggest teams; they’re based in the same place, they have more or less all the tools to make the fastest car and the best car.
"It’s not maybe on the level of McLaren or Ferrari or Mercedes as for how many people we have, but they have the knowledge and they have the will to make a good car and push hard."
Raikkonen believes the error in pursuing the front-exhaust solution in 2011 that derailed its campaign actually disguised how good Lotus was – and also helped deliver lessons that have helped its performance this year.
"Once they made the decision to have a completely different car to the others, there was no way they could have come back from that decision. So they looked worse than they actually were because the decision was made and unfortunately it wasn’t right.
"But I think they learned a lot from that, so I wasn’t really worried about how they were doing.
"You always take a gamble to come back and sometimes you choose the right team, sometimes not, that’s life. I’ve been very happy with how things have gone and the people are great and I enjoy it."
Raikkonen also thinks it is too early to start considering his plans for next year – either for himself or the team.
The Finn is expected to sign a fresh deal with Lotus, despite speculation linking him with Ferrari, after an encouraging return to F1 with the Enstone-based team this year.
But although Lotus has grown in strength all season – and should be able to carry that momentum in to 2013 – Raikkonen says he is keeping grounded about future ambitions.
"We have to look at this year first, and I want to do as well as we can at every race," he said.
"You can do well in one year, but we’ve seen even in the biggest teams that they can have a hard time the next year. You’d think we should only get better and better but you never know.
"It’s not easy to make a fast car and sometimes the small details can either go your way or go against you.
"Usually the big teams, if they are not starting well [they can recover] – we’ve seen Ferrari this year, they have improved and they are the best team right now.
"We always wish to continue next year but it’s way too early to say what will happen. We’re putting our efforts into this year and try to improve in the second half."
Räikkönen looking to build upon early form across second half of 2012 season
Kimi Raikkonen says it is a case of ‘good, but could do better’ when assessing his performance in the first half of his comeback season on the eve of the ninth round of this year’s campaign at Silverstone.
The 2007 world champion, who has finished on the podium three times since he came back to Formula 1 following a two-year spell in the WRC, says that while he is pleased with the results he has achieved so far with Lotus, he is also frustrated by the knowledge that he could have done even better.
"You always prefer to be higher up and if you would have told me before the season that I would be on the podium a few times and I had this many points I probably would say that yes that’s great," he said.
"But then of course you get there and you know that with certain things we could have done better and we would probably have had better results so then you are always a bit disappointed.
"But no I am still happy and as a team we are in a pretty good position, but still we could have done better, so it is just the fact that we haven’t achieved what we probably should have achieved."
Raikkonen added that he is still working towards a better feeling in the E20 and admitted that disrupted race weekends are hindering him from achieving that goal.
"If you make a small error somewhere or have a small issue at a certain point of the weekend then it can easily cost you a lot of time," he said. "It looks like a small thing but it might make a big difference in the end.
"It is difficult to always get the perfect weekend, it’s not the easiest thing.
"We have to still find on the set-up side something that we are 100 per cent happy with, and we are looking for it and we have some ideas. But every time when it’s wet like this we have to wait and it’s not so simple to say okay we’ll try this and this. The weather can change or you have a small issue and then you cannot do anything.
"We just have to be patient and try to get as good a result as we can and try to just work on the small details that we have to improve."
Kimi Räikkönen unsure how Lotus will fare in Monaco
Kimi Raikkonen is upbeat that Lotus will be able to deliver a race-winning weekend this season, but he is unsure if it can do that as soon as the Monaco Grand Prix.
The Finn has finished on the podium in the last two races, and knows that the team has the pace to be able to go for victory.
But although he is one of the favourites for success on the streets of Monte Carlo, Raikkonen thinks it too early to judge whether or not his team’s E20 will have the pace to triumph.
"Monaco is a little bit different and it’s hard to say how it will go there," he said. "The team has done a good job so far and we still have work to do and things to improve.
"So far it’s going well and I’m happy with it. OK, we’re not 100 per cent satisfied with it because we are not winning but that’s a very normal thing and I’m pleased for the team."
He added: "To be on the podium twice already is good. Unfortunately you’re not always going to get there. If you get the chance, you should take it because it’s not every race that you will be able to fight for that position.
"Hopefully we can keep doing what we’re doing now and at a certain point I’m sure that things will go exactly right and we’ll get there. So far we’ve made good steps forward and the car has been strong everywhere."
Raikkonen’s team boss Eric Boullier is being equally cautious about the prospects for Monaco; although he is in no doubt that the outfit is ready to win.
"Our strength has been that we have been there or thereabouts at every circuit. So far we haven’t suffered the performance fluctuations that some of our rivals have seen," he said. "If we continue like this we will be very well placed for scoring good championship points. Of course, scoring points is one thing. They’re very valuable and whoever has the most wins the championship. But we all really want to have a win.
"Historically Enstone teams have shown good pace in Monaco, but last year’s car wasn’t strong in slow speed corners so we may have some work to do. In terms of the team and our drivers, we’re all ready for a win. We’re looking at every aspect of the car and how we run it and we’re all focused tremendously on achieving our goals. A win would be a fabulous thing."
Lotus will be introducing a high-downforce specification rear wing for Monaco, as well as updates to the sidepod and brake drums.
Räikkönen: Refuelling ban has bigger impact on racing than tyres
Kimi Raikkonen says that too much has been made of the impact of tyres on the racing this year – and thinks that it is the ban on refuelling that is playing a huge factor in shuffling up the order as well.
The competitiveness of the F1 field this year has meant elements like tyres are playing a bigger role in the outcome of races, with Pirelli having faced criticism that its products have now become too important in defining results.
However, Raikkonen is not convinced that Pirelli should have been singled out as the key element – because he reckons that the ban on refuelling is a big contributing factor too.
"I don’t think the nature [of F1] is different because of that," Raikkonen told Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat about the impact of Pirelli.
"It’s because of the amount of the fuel on board. I don’t think there would be that much problem with these tyres, if we would race with 50 or 60 kilos, when we start.
"Previously the pitstops were made usually after every 20 laps, while we had less fuel. I think it would have been the same situation with Michelins and Bridgestones if we would have this much fuel as we have now.
"These tyres are good in qualifying: they have a good grip and all in all they are good tyres."
Refuelling was banned at the start of the 2010 season that witnessed four different winners in the first five races, and produced a four-way championship finale in Abu Dhabi.
Kimi Raikkonen to ramp up testing programme on day two with Lotus
Kimi Raikkonen is set for more intense running on the second day of his comeback Formula 1 test with Lotus on Tuesday.
The Finn completed just over 300km in a 2010-specification Renault R30 at Valencia on Monday using three sets of Pirelli’s very durable demonstration tyres.
He has four sets of Pirellis available for Tuesday’s running and is scheduled to complete more laps than on the first day as the team is hoping to give him more long runs as part of a wider-ranging programme.
"We’ll do some more high and low-fuel runs," Lotus track operations director Alan Permane told AUTOSPORT on Monday. "And there will be a few more set-up changes as we did some basic ones today.
"There will also be some procedural stuff like starts that will be subtly different to what he experienced at Ferrari, just to get him up to speed before he drives the new car."
Lotus has structured its running around Raikkonen’s needs, with re-acclimatising to F1 his priority ahead of the first pre-season test at Jerez, which starts on February 7.
As Raikkonen left F1 before refuelling was banned in 2010, giving him experience of varying fuel loads is also key.
"It isn’t a traditional test, it’s more about doing what he wants and getting him up to speed," said Permane.
"We wrote a run-plan and pretty much stuck to it [on Monday]. But I said to Kimi in the morning that the test is really for you and that if you want to do something different, that’s fine, let us know.
"But he just got on with it. We did a few little set-up changes and ran the car on a very high fuel load because that’s something he didn’t do as he left F1 before the refuelling ban came in.
"So it gave him a feel of the car on 150kg [fuel levels] when there’s a difference of four or five seconds a lap. The plan is for more of the same on Tuesday."
Raikkonen is looking forward to the extra mileage on what is his first experience of an F1 car since November 2009.
"Obviously you get more into the zone with the more laps you complete as you discover more about the car and the tyres," he said.
La cronaca della giornata da https://twitter.com/lotus_f1team:
@Stotty1Dog He is very laid back Stotty, really easy to talk to! Although once he has his helmet on he’s in another zone, totally focused!
@Formula1chick I’m sure if it were up to Kimi he’d be in the car all day! Unfortunately we occasionally need to stop him for fuel / tyres
marysophymary Kimi did short runs this morning and is going for long stints this afternoon. We’ll let you know how many laps he completes!
Kimi Raikkonen impresses Lotus in his first test since returning to Formula 1
Lotus’s trackside operations director Alan Permane said Kimi Raikkonen proved on his first day back in a Formula 1 cockpit that his return to grand prix racing can be a success.
Raikkonen is spending two days testing a 2010 Renault at Valencia this week as he settles back into F1 after two seasons in the World Rally Championship.
No times were released from today’s test, and Raikkonen’s pace would not be representative as he is using demonstration tyres and an older car, but Permane said his quality had shown through.
"From the first run he was pretty much there," Permane told BBC Sport. "It’s very difficult to know where he should be but he was pretty much on the pace on the first run. He didn’t find a whole lot of pace during the day.
"I don’t see any reason why he won’t be on the pace – you can tell he’s a very, very experienced driver.
"It was very clear we were working with a former world champion. It was a good day."
Permane added that he could not understand why Raikkonen had a reputation for being uncommunicative, as he had got on well with the Lotus team so far.
"He must have two faces – one for [the media]," Permane said. "He’s perfectly normal. "He was very happy to sit and talk about the car for as long as it takes. He’s very open."
Kimi Raikkonen warns he will need time to settle back into Formula 1 after 2010 Renault test
Kimi Raikkonen thinks it will still take him some time to fully return to his best in Formula 1, despite quickly settling back into the cockpit of a grand prix car at Valencia on Monday.
The former world champion has begun a two-day test in a 2010-spec Renault R30 in a bid to reacclimatise himself with F1 machinery prior to his first run in the team’s 2012 machine at Jerez next month.
Although the age of the car, plus the fact it is running on Pirelli demonstration rubber, means that lap times are meaningless, initial feedback from the team suggested that Raikkonen was showing well already.
Speaking to Sky Sports News after a first run in the car, Raikkonen said he had little problem learning to drive an F1 car again – but said that understanding how to get the best out of the team and tyres was not going to be the work of the moment.
"It was nice to get back in the car," explained Raikkonen. "It was quite a few years since I have driven last time, [and] of course it takes a little while to get used to it. But the main driving, braking, turning, that doesn’t take many laps. But of course to start learning about the car and team and tyres, that will take time."
Raikkonen also suggested that he never took it for granted that he would make a return to F1 after he had embarked on a career in the World Rally Championship.
When asked if he had expected to be back in F1, he said: "Not really. I didn’t have any plans for the future.
"There were different choices to do this year and I really wanted to do racing. We did some NASCAR stuff last year and I enjoyed it a lot, racing against other people.
"That is where I decided to do racing, and [if you are] doing racing, F1 is the highest level and probably where most people want to be. I found a good chance to come back and do racing with Lotus."
Kimi Raikkonen drives F1 car for the first time since joining Lotus
Kimi Raikkonen has returned to the wheel of a Formula 1 car for the first time since the end of 2009, driving a two-year-old Renault R30 at Valencia as he reacclimatises himself to the sport with Lotus.
Raikkonen arrived at the track at 0830 CET and took to the wheel of a two-year-old Renault R30 car – painted in Lotus’s contemporary black and gold livery and using Pirelli’s demonstration-spec rubber – for an installation lap just after 0900.
The Finn is taking part in a two-day session designed to help him reacclimatise himself with grand prix machinery. His first test with the team’s 2012 car will take place at Jerez early next month.
Under the terms of F1′s strict testing limitations, teams are not allowed to run contemporary F1 machinery apart from at designated tests. However, machinery that is two years old is free from such restrictions – which is why Lotus is able to run him in a 2010 Renault car that is fitted with demo rubber.
Raikkonen last raced in F1 in 2009, when he was dropped by Ferrari and chose to switch to the World Rally Championship for the following year. He competed there for two seasons.
Keen to return to racing, however, Raikkonen briefly tried the NASCAR truck series last year before eventually agreeing a deal with Lotus to return to F1 in 2012.
Raikkonen said last month that he believed the biggest hurdle he faced in returning to F1 was getting used to the tyres.
He told the Lotus website: "I don’t think I’ve lost any speed. Getting on top of the tyres will be the hardest thing, of course, but I’m not really worried."
La cronaca della giornata da https://twitter.com/Lotus_F1Team
The picture so many fans have waited for… Kimi’s new helmet! What do you think? http://t.co/8tZUsp00
New Lotus Formula 1 car passes final crash tests
Kimi Raikkonen will definitely have his new Lotus ready for the first Formula 1 pre-season test after his outfit passed the last of its mandatory crash tests on Monday morning, AUTOSPORT can reveal.
As the former world champion began a private test at Valencia in Spain in a 2010-spec R30, exclusive pictures of which can be seen here, sources have confirmed his Enstone-based team was completing the last of its crash tests.
For the first time this year, F1 teams must pass the stringent FIA crash tests before they are allowed to run their cars on track – as opposed to only being required to do so for the first race of the campaign.
Lotus will unveil its 2012 car on its official website on February 5, prior to an official showing at the Jerez circuit the following day.
Raikkonen is due to kick off running of the new car for the first two days of the test from February 7, before handing it over to team-mate Romain Grosjean for the final two days.
Formula 1 teams have been told by the FIA that reactive ride height systems will be banned for the 2012 season
Formula 1 teams have been told that the reactive suspension system pioneered by Lotus has been banned for the 2012 season.
Sources have confirmed that a note was sent from the FIA to all teams on Friday evening indicating that the governing body was no longer satisfied the concept – which regulates ride height under braking – was still legal.
It is not clear why the FIA has decided now that the reactive systems should be outlawed, after AUTOSPORT revealed last week that it had given the green light to the Lotus idea as long ago as last January.
Rival teams are likely, however, to have made an effort to prove to the FIA that the Lotus system was in contravention of the regulations.
News of the FIA ban was first broken on The Flying Lap webcast, when Williams chief operations engineer Mark Gillan said on Friday night he had received a note from the governing body shortly before going on air notifying him of the move.
"The FIA has just banned that particular type of system," he said.
Speaking about Williams’ efforts on the device, Gillan said: "We have been investigating that type of system for a while. It obviously has an impact on the aero platform of the car, [and] anything that gets the front ride height lower is beneficial from an aerodynamic perspective."
The reactive suspension system on the Lotus was first spotted at last year’s Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test, and helped maintain the front ride height under braking for corners – to benefit both aerodynamic performance and stability.
Rivals teams were quick to look into the system, with Ferrari understood to be the first to propose its own version of reactive ride to the FIA.
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali had said at his team’s Wrooom media event in Italy last week that he was awaiting a response from the governing body on its legality.
He said: "What you are talking about, is more related to having stability under braking. It is a system that I know there have been some documents in writing between the FIA and the teams.
"We are waiting for the final confirmation if this kind of devices will be acceptable or not. But for sure we are looking around these sorts of devices to see if they contribute to a performance. But we need to wait and see what will be the reaction to the FIA on that."
Only this week, Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner had said he was unsure about the ultimate benefits of the system.
"It’s like all of these things, it’s about how they work and how they are integrated in the car," Horner told AUTOSPORT. "Things have to work as a package rather than as individual components. It appears to be an interesting concept but I’m the wrong person to be commenting on it."
When asked if he thought it was legal, he said: "I haven’t had that close a look at it. That’s more a question for [F1 race director] Charlie Whiting."
The Lotus system was mechanical and activated by brake torque. And, because it was part of the suspension system, was deemed legal at the time because it could not be classified as a moveable aerodynamic device.
Former F1 driver John Watson says Kimi Raikkonen needs track time
Kimi Raikkonen’s biggest challenge to recovering his form on returning to Formula 1 in 2012 will be the limited cockpit time prior to the start of the season.
That is the view of five-time grand prix winner John Watson.
Speaking at AUTOSPORT International, former Brabham and McLaren driver Watson said that while Raikkonen would have to re-acclimatise to single-seaters, he didn’t expect the Finn to take as long as Michael Schumacher had to hit full stride again.
"Six active world champions in Formula is unprecedented and it’s truly exciting," said Watson. "Whether Raikkonen, on his return in the Lotus, [can make a success of it] will be interesting.
"If you take the example of Schumacher, who was slightly longer out of the cockpit and found it more difficult to re-acclimatise to F1 than he may be expected, whether Kimi will go through the same struggle I don’t know. I think probably not to the same degree.
"But big changes because of the aerodynamics, primarily because of the change of tyres, the limitation on testing, all those factors are going to limit Raikkonen’s progress so he is going to have to really use every opportunity to be in the car to try and short cut that two-year period where he has been fooling about in rally cars.
"He must re-tune his mind from what you do in a rally car and what you do in a grand prix car."
Watson warned that Raikkonen should not expect an easy ride on his return though, adding that the landscape had changed quite a bit since he quit Ferrari at the end of 2009 and that the level of competition at the top had risen.
"There are some outstanding drivers in Formula 1 right now," said Watson. "I have had to reassess my perceptions of who I would place as the top driver of the day. And what Sebastian Vettel has done, aside from the fact that he has had the best car for the last two years, has been impressive.
"He had to work for it though, in 2010 he only won it in the last grand prix, last year he dominated. Just watching some of the moves, Monza in particular when he finally got past Fernando Alonso around the outside of Curve Grande indicated to me that while he may have the quickest car he knows how to make use of it.
"An unbelievably impressive driver, but it’s also the way he conducts himself outside of the car. At the AUTOSPORT Awards in December, the way he held everybody in a spell with Steve Rider – who is no mean interviewer – and the guy is a star. That is what F1 needs. We need more of them."
[...] Is Kimi Raikkonen’s return sensible after a two years on the sidelines? We’ve all seen how Michael Schumacher has struggled to get back up to speed…
He’s been a world champion and he’s a huge talent, so you mustn’t underestimate him but, yes, I think it will be tough for him but I hope he’s competitive. I would love to race him, I think it will be good. It’s a great shame though that Robert Kubica hasn’t been able to come back – that’s what we were all hoping for. [...]
Lotus’s rivals set to be forced to copy innovative reactive ride height system
Lotus’s rivals look set to be forced to copy its innovative reactive ride height system ahead of the 2012 season, with the FIA happy the concept is totally legal.
There has been much intrigue in recent days about the mechanism that Lotus was reported to have tried out at the Abu Dhabi young driver test last year.
The mechanical system helps maintain a standard ride height during braking – when often the front of the car would dip down.
Rivals teams are understood to have looked into the system and its legality over recent days – with a report in Gazzetta dello Sport this week suggesting it was driver adjusted by the use of a pedal in the cockpit.
However, if the drivers were changing the ride height of the cars under braking then that would be a breach of the rules.
Article 3.15 of the F1 Technical Regulations states: "With the exception of the parts necessary for the adjustment described in Article 3.18 [the DRS], any car system, device or procedure which uses driver movement as a means of altering the aerodynamic characteristics of the car is prohibited."
AUTOSPORT can reveal, however, that the adjustment to the ride height – which improves aerodynamic performance and stability on the Lotus under braking – does not come from the driver.
Instead it is reactive to brake torque and is linked directly to the suspension – so cannot be classified as a moveable aerodynamic device in the way that independent mass dampers were.
The fact that the driver is not involved, and that the system is a part of the suspension, means it complies fully with the F1 regulations.
AUTOSPORT understands that Lotus has been in liaison with the FIA throughout the development of the brake system, having first been proposed in 2010 and been given an official green light by the governing as long ago as January last year.
With the FIA happy that the brake system is legal, it means that its main rivals will now have to propose their own systems to the governing body if they want to adopt such a concept for the forthcoming season.
AUTOSPORT also understands that at least one front-running team has already submitted plans for a similar ride-height adjustment device to be used in 2012.
Todt fa un favore a Kimi
Volendo essere cattivelli, potremmo considerarlo un favore del Pinguino, alias Jean Todt, al suo ultimo campione del mondo, alias Kimi Raikkonen.
Comunque, ecco qua.
Oggi l’ufficio tecnico della federazione internazionale ha annunciato di considerare ‘legale’ il dispositivo studiato dalla ex Renault, oggi Lotus, il nuovo team del Biondino, che permette di mantenere stabile l’altezza della monoposto in fase di frenata.
La Lotus ex Renault aveva introdotto l’innovazione in occasione dei test di Abu Dhabi riservati ai giovani piloti.
In quella occasione, la Ferrari (ma anche la Red Bull) aveva sollevato perplessità sul marchingegno, ritenendo che venisse attivato manualmente dal pilota, cosa questa vietatissima dai regolamenti.
Evidentemente la Lotus ex Renault ha dimostrato, in sede Fia, che si tratta invece di una soluzione soltanto ‘tecnica’, connessa al funzionamento delle sospensioni.
Quindi è stato dato l’ok.
Se la trovata garantisce vantaggi, Ferrari-Red Bull and company dovranno copiare, anche in fretta e furia.
Se non copiano, rischiano una fregatura (qualora la soluzione Lotus fosse…magica) in stile doppio diffusore 2009.
1-0 per Todt (e per Kimi) e palla al centro.
The top 20 F1 stories of 2011
3. Renault confirms Raikkonen for 2012
One of the biggest driver signing stories of 2011 was when Renault announced that Kimi Raikkonen would be joining the team for next year.
8. Villeneuve: Raikkonen title not deserved
Jacques Villeneuve is never one to keep controversial opinions to himself, and over the summer he offered his views on Kimi Raikkonen’s qualities as a champion.
The top 20 motorsport stories of 2011
[…] In happier news, Kimi Raikkonen’s deliberations over where to head next fascinated readers long before his Formula 1 comeback was announced, the prospect of a new Indycar for 2012 was eagerly awaited, and excitement grew over the future of Le Mans racing as Toyota and Porsche lined up to join Audi and Peugeot.
2. NASCAR: Raikkonen to compete in NASCAR
Raikkonen’s second WRC campaign had only just begun when reports of another potential career change emerged, as he arranged to take his first tentative steps into what turned out to be an abortive NASCAR career.
16. Le Mans: Raikkonen completes Peugeot 908 test
By August, NASCAR had dropped off Raikkonen’s radar and it appeared that he might be set for a move into the Le Mans arena after testing for the factory Peugeot team.
19. NASCAR: Raikkonen tests Cup car at Virginia
Kimi Raikkonen was big news all year as he pondered his next move. Back in early summer, a Formula 1 return seemed unlikely and it looked like NASCAR would be his 2012 destination.
Damon Hill reckons Raikkonen has "a couple of more world F1 championships" in him
Damon Hill believes Kimi Raikkonen has "a couple of more world championships" in him, and reckons returning to the sport at the age of 32 should not be a problem for the Finn.
Raikkonen left Formula 1 at the end of the 2009 season to compete in the World Rally Championship, but he will make his comeback next year after signing a two-year deal with the Lotus Renault team.
The Finn, regarded as one of the quickest drivers of his era, won the title in 2007 with Ferrari and has 18 grand prix victories to his name.
Former world champion Hill thinks Raikkonen’s return is good for Formula 1, and he believes the Finn can still be champion again.
"It is great – and good luck to him," Hill told AUTOSPORT. "He is going to have to show that he has still got it, which he has got a good team to show that in, and he is still young.
"He has won a world championship already, and I had only just got into F1 at his age, so he has definitely got a couple of more world championships in him."
Hill, who retired from the sport at the end of the 1999 season, said he would also like to see a "titanic" battle for the titles next year, the Briton hoping Red Bull’s rivals can push the team harder in 2012 after a dominant 2011.
"We want to see someone upset the applecart, although I think Adrian [Newey] is fantastic, and [Sebastian] Vettel, [Mark] Webber and Red Bull Racing is a great team at the front – and they seem to be fun loving," he said.
"It is good to have that – but I know that they want to fight for it. They don’t want it too easy. So a good titanic battle between three top teams would be fantastic to see."
Hill, however, said that despite Sebastian Vettel’s dominance, the past season was thrilling.
He feels 2011 showed Formula 1 is in good shape, but he stressed the need to recognise the importance Europe has for the sport.
"Yes, I thought it was very exciting. It was a brilliant season. The sport is good, but there is still a lot that needs discussing. It is fantastic entertainment, but I just know that Europe and Great Britain is important to the sport.
"I think that is worth emphasising – it is not all about the bottom line. It is about going to place where people understand and appreciate the sport and they should not be denied access to it."
Kimi Räikkönen says motivation not an issue in Formula 1 return
Kimi Raikkonen says there are is no question about his motivation ahead of his return to Formula 1 with the Lotus Renault team next year.
The Finn left the sport at the end of 2009 to compete in the World Rally Championship for the past two seasons, but has now secured a two-year deal with the team to return to grand prix racing in 2012.
Raikkonen, a world champion with Ferrari in 2007, says he would not have returned to Formula 1 if his motivation was not high.
"I wouldn’t have come back if I wasn’t motivated," said Raikkonen in a video interview with the team.
"There is always a lot of talk about the motivation but nobody really knows what I do or what I think except for myself, so I don’t really care about what people say.
"I enjoy to come back. I wouldn’t put my name in a contract if I didn’t think I’d enjoy it. It will be interesting. It will be exciting to get back."
The 32-year-old insisted he never stopped enjoying racing in Formula 1, but rather other things away from the race track.
Raikkonen said his two outings in NASCAR made him realise how much he was missing racing against other drivers.
"I never really lost the passion in racing in Formula 1, but maybe all the things around it," he said. "But I did some NASCAR races earlier this year and I started to miss the racing more and more and racing against each other, because in rallying it’s against the clock, really. That’s what I was missing.
"I got the call from certain people in Formula 1 and certain things happened and then we managed to have a nice conversation with Lotus Renault and ended up making a deal with them, so I’m very happy with that."
The Finn was also in talks with Williams before signing his Renault deal, but said things worked out better with the latter.
"There were two options," he said. "It was either this team or Williams and in the end everything worked out with Lotus Renault as we wanted, so that’s really the reason [to have chosen Renault]."
Renault boss Eric Boullier sure Kimi Raikkonen will deliver in Formula 1 return
Renault has no doubts that Kimi Raikkonen is fully fired up for his Formula 1 return, and will be able to deliver at his best straight away.
Although the manner of Raikkonen’s exit from F1 after a disappointing 2009 campaign has left some questioning his motivation, Renault team principal Eric Boullier is convinced that the Finn is ready to prove his doubters wrong.
"Kimi is very motivated and determined to come back, so he convinced us," Boullier told AUTOSPORT.
"You can feel it, and discuss it. Also, there are some people around him who confirmed he is very motivated. We don’t need to speak much about the motivation. We know he wants to be back."
Raikkonen is due to make his first official visit to Renault’s Enstone factory later this week, as the team begins proper preparations for the 2007 champion’s F1 comeback.
Boullier believes that Raikkonen’s presence at the outfit will be a major boost as it bids to recover from a disappointing season.
"If Kimi is coming back to F1 after two years of not racing in F1, it is because he is a world champion and everyone knows about his speed," said Boullier.
"It is very good news for the team and shows it has big ambitions for the future. An F1 world champion obviously makes a difference and I think his expectation and level of commitment will be at the level of a high class driver, so I am very excited and very happy to work with him."
He added: "We clearly have this season behind us and we look forward to racing next season, and definitely we will make some differences over the course of the next three months.
"Genii are backing us very strongly. They want Lotus to be a top team and our aim is to fight and be on the podium. We have some very exciting announcements coming and that will be key to the future."
Video StudioSport: http://www.mediafire.com/?7a1qgr87vt7osrs
Video Raisport: http://www.mediafire.com/?4uzm1fttm195zd6
Video Sky: http://www.mediafire.com/?1tw7xckx8opp8v4
Kimi Räikkönen back in F1 with LRGP in 2012
Lotus Renault GP is pleased to announce that Kimi Räikkönen will race for the team next season. The 2007 World Champion, who left Formula 1 at the end of 2009 to pursue a career in rallying, has decided to make a comeback at the pinnacle of single-seater racing. He has now signed a two-year agreement with Lotus Renault GP.
Kimi’s F1 roll of honour includes 18 wins, 62 podiums and 16 pole positions. This experience and success is sure to help the team make a step forward next year. The 32-year-old Finn’s commitment indeed makes for a vote of confidence in Lotus Renault GP, demonstrating the team’s determination and new philosophy for the seasons ahead.
Kimi Räikkönen: “I’m delighted to be coming back to Formula 1 after a two-year break, and I’m grateful to Lotus Renault GP for offering me this opportunity. My time in the World Rally Championship has been a useful stage in my career as a driver, but I can’t deny the fact that my hunger for F1 has recently become overwhelming. It was an easy choice to return with Lotus Renault GP as I have been impressed by the scope of the team’s ambition. Now I’m looking forward to playing an important role in pushing the team to the very front of the grid.”
Gérard Lopez, Genii Capital, Chairman: “All year long, we kept saying that our team was at the start of a brand new cycle. Backstage we’ve been working hard to build the foundations of a successful structure and to ensure that we would soon be able to fight at the highest level. Kimi’s decision to come back to Formula 1 with us is the first step of several announcements which should turn us into an even more serious contender in the future. Of course, we are all looking forward to working with a world champion. On behalf of our staff, I’d like to welcome Kimi to Enstone, a setting that has always been known for its human approach to Formula 1.”
Renault confirms Kimi Raikkonen will return to Formula 1 in 2012
enault has confirmed Kimi Raikkonen will return to Formula 1 racing next year, after having secured a deal to compete with the squad.
Raikkonen, who had left Formula 1 at the end of the 2009 season, had been in talks with the Williams team about a possible return next year, but the deal feel through and he was immediately linked with Renault, which will be called Lotus from 2012.
Raikkonen, 32, moved from Formula 1 to the World Rally Championship, where he spent the last two seasons while also competing in one race of the NASCAR Truck series and one Nationwide event.
The Finn won the Formula 1 world championship in 2007 with Ferrari, having scored a total of 18 wins since he made his grand prix debut in 2001.
Renault was forced to search for another driver after Robert Kubica confirmed last week that he would not be ready to start the 2012 season following his dramatic accident in February.
Raikkonen has signed a two-year deal with the team.
"I’m delighted to be coming back to Formula 1 after a two-year break, and I’m grateful to Lotus Renault GP for offering me this opportunity," said Raikkonen. "My time in the World Rally Championship has been a useful stage in my career as a driver, but I can’t deny the fact that my hunger for F1 has recently become overwhelming.
"It was an easy choice to return with Lotus Renault GP as I have been impressed by the scope of the team’s ambition. Now I’m looking forward to playing an important role in pushing the team to the very front of the grid."
Team owner Gerard Lopez added: "All year long, we kept saying that our team was at the start of a brand new cycle. Backstage we’ve been working hard to build the foundations of a successful structure and to ensure that we would soon be able to fight at the highest level.
"Kimi’s decision to come back to Formula 1 with us is the first step of several announcements which should turn us into an even more serious contender in the future. Of course, we are all looking forward to working with a world champion. On behalf of our staff, I’d like to welcome Kimi to Enstone, a setting that has always been known for its human approach to Formula 1."
Adam Parr intervistato dalla BBC in occasione del GP d’India. Solo recitazione?
Parr coy on Räikkönen rumours
Williams chairman Adam Parr admitted that Kimi Raikkonen would be a good fit for the team, but insisted no decision has been made over its 2012 driver line-up.
After a disappointing Indian Grand Prix in which Pastor Maldonado retired and Rubens Barrichello laboured to 15th place behind the Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen, Williams continues to boast a total of only five points all season. With rumours linking 2007 champion Raikkonen with a move to Williams for 2012, Parr was asked by the BBC if Raikkonen or Adrian Sutil would be the better choice to help the team recover next season, but initially refused to be drawn on the subject.
"We’re thinking about what we’re doing for next year," Parr said. "No decisions have been made, and I’m really sorry but I can’t say more than that right now."
However, when asked if someone like Raikkonen would motivate Williams to improve, Parr admitted he would be a good fit for the team.
"I think everybody knows that Kimi is one of the most talented drivers who has been in Formula One in recent years. From what we can all see he’s very hungry to come back in, and I think having a world champion in your midst of course energises people. So all the points you made would be very relevant to a team that was thinking about what it was doing."
Le opinioni di Horner, Parr, Schumacher, Rosberg e altri, intervistati da MTV3 http://www.mediafire.com/?z3rraahagaroen8:
For all you Kimi fans out there, I got a shot of one of the hundreds of helmets I’ve seen around town.
[…] One of the more amusing aspects of the Delhi traffic was the fact that there were so many unofficial Kimi Raikkonen crash helmets on display. With fake West, SAP and Mobil 1 logos, they had been a huge hit back in 2007 when crash helmets were made mandatory on the roads. […]
Kimi Räikkönen’s team excluded from World Rally Championship standings
Kimi Raikkonen’s Ice 1 Racing team has been excluded from the classification of the World Rally Championship for not contesting this week’s Rally Australia.
The former Formula 1 world champion elected not to travel to Coffs Harbour for the 10th round of the WRC and, once the event got underway last night, the stewards of the meeting made their decision – which will cost Raikkonen €16,200 (£14,000).
The officials’ statement said: "Having considered the provisions of the 2011 FIA World Rally Championship Sporting Regulations and specifically article 7.3.8, the stewards decide to require the team Ice 1 Racing to pay the entry fee to the organisers of the 2011 Rally Australia, to pay the FIA a fine equal to the amount of the registration fee being €16,000 to exclude Ice1 Racing from the classification of the championship."
Raikkonen’s Ice1 Racing team is classified as a WRC Team and, as such, is bound to compete in the rallies nominated at the start of the season. Raikkonen had to nominate seven events, two of which had to be outside of Europe. He competed in Jordan earlier this year, but failing to make the start in Australia contravened the regulations.
The Finn had already contested six WRC rounds this season and was holding eighth place with 34 points. Raikkonen will be permitted to enter any of the remaining three rallies he wants to, but Ice 1 will not be included in the end of season classification.
In Raikkonen’s absence, the stewards’ decision was accepted by team manager Benoit Nogier.
Da TS.fi, traduzione Nicole@KRForum Ufficiale
Räikkönen maintained the driver’s points
Kimi Räikkönen’s ICE1 Racing -team was excluded from the teams WRC-serie on Friday. Räikkönen was 5th in this serie with 48 points.
The judges in Rally Australia registered that Räikkönen had skipped the race and according to the rules the team doesn’t fill the requirement to participate in at least two remote rallies outside Europe anymore.
Räikkönen has skipped Australia, Mexico, Sardinia and Argentina. From the remote rallies he has only taken part in Rally Jordan. After Australia he has France, Catalynia and Great-Britain left.
Australia was in Räikkönen’s original WRC-schedule but he decided to change his plans after Rally Finland. Instead of a rally trip Kimi has been on a holiday with his wife Jenni.
The hosts in Rally Australia gave Räikkönen a penalty since he didn’t show up there to race. The sum is the registration fee (16.200 euros). On top of that FIA gave the driver a penalty of the same amount.
In WRC the racing for Manufacturer’s championship is not the same as it is in F1. The price-money is remarkably smaller. That’s why even losing the 5th place isn’t such a big deal for Räikkönen financially.
What is special is that Räikkönen’s one-car -team has more WC-points than the driver has. ICE1 Racing had time to gather 48 points whereas Räikkönen is 8th in the driver’s serie with 34 points. The difference is only due to the fact that in some rallies all teams haven’t got any WC-points.
The penalty from Rally Australia concerns only the teams WC-serie. Therefore Räikkönen is still 8th in the driver’s serie. According to his original plan, Räikkönen will drive normally the three last WRC-rallies in the serie and think after that what he will be doing in 2012.
Räikkönen’s team hit with penalty
Kimi Raikkonen’s ICE 1 Racing will play no further part in the battle for the World Rally Championship manufacturers’ title following its exclusion from the series due to its no show on Rally Australia.
The Citroen Racing Technologies-managed operation had contested six rounds of this year’s world championship with Raikkonen at the wheel of a DS3 WRC, scoring manufacturers’ points on each occasion. Heading to Rally Australia, the squad was fifth in the table with 48 points.
ICE 1 had lodged an entry for ex-Formula One world champion Raikkonen and co-driver Kaj Lindstrom for Rally Australia but notified organisers that it wouldn’t be taking part on the Coffs Harbour-based round due to logistical and organisational difficulties. Its failure to take part was in contravention of article 7.3.8 of the WRC’s sporting regulations.
A decision taken by the Rally Australia stewards on Thursday ordered the Finnish-backed team to pay the entry fee to the event organisers and a fine of 16,200 Euros to the FIA, motorsport’s world governing body. It also excluded ICE 1 from the classification of the manufacturers’ championship.
Despite the punishment, Raikkonen is still committed to the WRC with this entry already submitted for round 11, Rally de France Alsace, which takes place from 28 September-2 October. He is also due to contest the rounds in Spain and Great Britain.
Da Autosprint n.37
Da TS.fi, traduzione Google
[…] L’attenzione di Räikkönen ora è rivolta al test dell’auto Peugeot per Le Mans mercoledì sul tracciato dell’Aragona in Spagna.
- “Andiamo visto che ci è stato chiesto e vediamo che tipo di macchina è la Peugeot. Immagino sia diversa da tutte le altre provate sinora. Del tracciato, so solo che è in Spagna” ha detto Räikkönen a Turun Sanomat.
I piloti Peugeot per Le Mans che lasceranno, salvo ulteriori accordi, sono Pedro Lamy e Nicolas Minassian. Gli altri piloti della marca francese conosciuti anche da Kimi sono l’ex tester McLaren Alex Wurz e l’attuale tester Ferrari Marc Genè.
Räikkönen to test Peugeot’s Le Mans car with a view to a 2012 deal
Kimi Raikkonen will test the Peugeot 908 Le Mans car at Spanish circuit Motorland Aragon on Wednesday.
It is understood that it could lead to a possible outing in next year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, with Peugeot keen to evaluate Raikkonen’s speed in the car.
Raikkonen has admitted that he is keen on competing at Le Mans, but if he was to do so, he would want an expanded programme of races for the marque.
"It would be great to do Le Mans," Raikkonen told Finland’s Turun Sanomat. "But if you race there, you should do some races as a test as well. It could be tricky to get all the schedules working well."
Peugeot has previously tested seven-time World Rally champion Sebastien Loeb and is keen to run high-profile drivers at Le Mans, as it did when 1997 Formula 1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve was in its line-up in 2007 and ’08.
PSA Peugeot Citroen management board member Jean-Marc Gales declined to confirm Raikkonen’s test, but admitted that it was possible and that a race seat could be on the cards if he was fast enough.
"I don’t exclude that [Raikkonen testing the car], " Gales told AUTOSPORT. "But nothing has been decided on our pilots for Peugeot for next year.
"Clearly, it depends how fast he is and I can’t comment on that because we haven’t done it yet."
Articolo da Autosprint n. 34 del 23/08/2011:
Räikkönen backed for solid Acropolis
Kimi Raikkonen’s co-driver Kaj Lindtsrom is confident the Finn’s improvement on the stages will continue on this week’s Acropolis Rally, despite a two-month lay-off since his last outing.
Raikkonen’s last event was the Jordan Rally, where he finished sixth, just missing out on equaling his best ever WRC result in his Citroen DS3 WRC. Since the Middle East event, Raikkonen has had just one day of testing in the Citroen – a day spent close to Marseille in France last week.
Lindstrom said: "The test was a good day, not just to improve the feeling in the car but also to test a few [set-up] things for Greece. There were no problems [getting back in the car after two months away] because Kimi felt comfortable straight away and found the feeling. The road was rough and loose for the test, a bit like what I remember Greece to be, but it’s a long time since I was there."
This week’s Acropolis will be Raikkonen’s first taste of the notoriously tough Greek roads.
"Sure it will be a new rally for Kimi but he will be okay," said Lindstrom. "We made some improvements to the car in the test and Kimi was confident, no question. Like in Jordan he felt comfortable in the car and I think we can see another strong performance by him.
"It’s always difficult to say what that result will be and there’s still a long way to go [for his learning] but we are closing the gap all of the time and I’m confident we will be even closer in Greece.
"The first day of the event is a tough day with only remote service but I don’t think the approach will be any different. It’s the same for everybody, a matter of luck if you have problems or not. If something breaks you know you have to live with it and get through. We will look to make a clean run but I am not that concerned for Kimi."
Raikkonen’s team manager Benoit Nogier was equally confident in the former Formula 1 world champion’s ability to deal with a new event. The Frenchman added: "We were very happy with his performance in Jordan and he has a good opportunity for Greece.
"We found a road with a condition as close as possible to Greece and Kimi was quite happy. It will be a tough rally, not necessarily for the drivers but for the cars. The first day is very long with only a remote service but Kimi is not a rookie anymore and will be able to manage this situation."
Raikkonen 27th in Nationwide debut
Kimi Raikkonen finished 27th on his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut at Charlotte following a pit road penalty and damage to the front of his car, having run most of the distance on the lead lap before that.
The Finn, driving the #87 NEMCO Motorsports Toyota prepared by Kyle Busch Motorsports, enjoyed solid long runs in practice on Thursday and set some competitive lap times, feeling much more at ease ahead of the race than a week ago when he made his NASCAR debut in the Truck Series.
Having qualified 22nd despite brushing the wall on his first flying lap, Raikkonen made early progress even while not being happy with his car’s balance.
He was able to pick up a few spots on every restart, making a clear improvement from his first NASCAR experience last week, and eventually managed to race his way up to 15th in the order despite not getting the right feel from the front end of his car, struggling to turn it into the corners as he wished.
Following a green-flag pitstop for tyres and fuel on lap 139 of 200, Raikkonen was too fast leaving his stall and had to serve a drive-through penalty which left him two laps down on the leaders. Then he ran into a piece of debris from another car on the backstretch, which caused damage to the front of his Toyota, further affecting its lack of front grip.
An additional stop to remove the debris stuck under the nose of the car placed Raikkonen another lap down and from then onwards he tried to make the most of his seat time, eventually crossing the finish line 27th, four laps down on race winner Matt Kenseth.
"It was nice in the beginning and I could overtake on the restart and it felt really good when [the car] turned," said Raikkonen. "Then it really it turned out to be really bad, the handling. Just because I couldn’t even get the car in, even I felt I had to stop in the corner and it was just pushing all the time.
"The same thing happened in the first and second practice and then we could improve it in the second practice but somehow it came back for me. Something’s not right. It’s a shame because in some points it felt quite good."
He added: "When it was really bad I hit the wall a few times, more or less everywhere. I got pushed, almost spun around. Once it got difficult it’s really [hard] because you cannot race, you just try to survive through the corner, so it’s not so much fun. But until that point it was good.
"The car was nice after the restarts and I could really go high or low and I could go fast. If the car would have stayed like that I think we could have finished very high but it’s [a case of] learning."
Raikkonen also faced heat isolation issues early in the race, complaining especially of his feet getting very hot. Most NASCAR drivers wear heat-isolating heal protectors over their racing shoes, but he said he did not wear them because he did not have any issues last week in the Truck race.
"It just burned them, the floor got really hot and then the feet got really hot, I don’t know why the car was somehow really hot inside," said Raikkonen. "It was hurting on the heels but I couldn’t really do anything so I just tried to get my feet off the floor and just hold them up."
Rick Ren, crew chief for Raikkonen in both of his NASCAR outings thus far, was pleased with how they ran and felt a top-15 finish looked attainable before the speeding penalty placed them two laps down.
"My goals for both races were to finish on the lead lap," said Ren. "That’s a realistic goal and then take what you can get and we were shooting for that today. I think he did a really good job.
He added: "I liked when we unloaded for practice [on] Thursday he was aggressive and attacked the race track while he was very apprehensive the first Truck practice here.
"I feel like he adapted a lot better, whether it’s the car or the truck or because he had run [at Charlotte] the week before. But during practice he passed some cars low and high and I felt really good when we were on Thursday night that he was prepared to come and do this."
Raikkonen will return to Europe to compete in the Rally Acropolis in Greece next month and said he does not know if he will be travelling back to the US for a possible NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut next month.
Ren said if Kyle Busch Motorsports was to run Raikkonen at the road-course event at Sonoma on June 26, it would need to do so through an established Cup team, although the timing would be tight and the options very limited.
"We would have to do that with a Cup team and the Cup teams that could go do that are very, very limited," said Ren.
"The frontrunning Cup teams, we cannot get a car from those teams. We only have Nationwide cars. I have something that could maybe develop if he wanted to do that, but boy, it’s cutting it close to go to Sonoma. It’s just a few weeks away."
Cup drivers dominated Saturday’s Nationwide Series event, Kenseth beating Roush Fenway team-mate Carl Edwards, and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch.
Kimi Raikkonen is 27th in challenging Nationwide debut
By Nate Ryan, USA TODAY
CONCORD, N.C. — "The Iceman" made his debut in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and things got hot all over for Kimi Raikkonen (FSY)
The 2007 Formula One champion battled extreme heat in the cockpit that scalded his feet, a pit miscue that resulted in being handed an empty water bottle and an ill-handling Toyota that had the Finn cursing like an American sailor.
Coupled with a speeding penalty exiting the pits on a green-flag stop and the impact of a chunk of another driver’s splitter, Raikkonen’s 27th-place finish (four laps down) in his Nationwide Series debut could be regarded as inauspicious.
But considering it was his second start in a NASCAR national series and his first — ever — in a stock car on an oval, crew chief Rick Ren took another view of his driver’s performance.
"Kimi did a great job," said Ren, who had set a goal of lead-lap finishes for Raikkonen’s first two NASCAR races (he achieved it last week with a 15th in the Camping World Truck Series). "Everyone needs to understand that Charlotte is a very difficult racetrack. There are really good, famous race car drivers that have never won at Charlotte.
"For him to finish on the lead lap in the truck, qualify good in the Nationwide cars, run great in the second practice.. .. He’s got good feedback for having never driven these types of vehicles. Enough feedback to help me realize what it’s doing. I call it a success. The results don’t really show how good he really did. If you look at the finishing order, guys in 10th-12th we ran ahead of them a good lick of the day. I think it was all positive. No negatives out of it."
No one is positive, though, of Raikkonen’s next move. The enigmatic driver, who notched 18 victories and 62 podiums in F1 while racing for Sauber, McLaren and Ferrari from 2001-09 and now races in the World Rally Championship, was being typically coy after being asked if Saturday’s race would be his last in NASCAR.
"I don’t know that," said Raikkonen, who departed Charlotte immediately for a WRC event in Greece. "For now, I go back to Europe and to some rallies and see what happens."
There are no races scheduled beyond Charlotte for Raikkonen, but Kyle Busch (FSY) Motorsports would be willing to work with him again after supplying a car and truck the past two weeks.
"It’s up to him to decide if he wants to come do this again," said Ren, the general manager for KBM. "Hopefully, we did our part, and it was a pleasant experience for him."
Raikkonen, who thanked the team after the race despite filling his radio channel with vulgarities for much of 300 miles, has said he would like to race Sprint Cup and is interested in the June 26 race at Sonoma, Calif. Infineon Raceway is a road course that would suit his background in F1 (which races exclusively on road and street circuits).
But Ren cautioned that Sonoma would be another very hot race, and that KBM (which runs primarily in the truck series) wouldn’t be able to secure a Cup car from a front-running team (a Camry was obtained from NEMCO Motorsports for Saturday’s Nationwide race).
"We’d have to do (Sonoma) with a Cup team," Ren said. "The Cup teams that could go do that are very, very limited. I have something that maybe could develop if he wanted to do that, but it’s cutting it close to go to Sonoma. Engine builders plan engines six to eight weeks out, so it’d be really tough."
Raikkonen tested a car this past week on the Virginia International Raceway road course for Robby Gordon (FSY) Motorsports, which would seem an obvious choice for supplying a Toyota for Cup.
He’ll have a lot to mull after a race that didn’t go nearly as smoothly as his NASCAR debut a week earlier. Raikkonen qualified 22nd and was satisfied with the handling of his car for the first half of the 200-lap event.
But it began growing uncomfortable quickly. During the first yellow on Lap 26, Raikkonen radioed his feet were "burning" from heat emanating from the floorboards. After joking he might hang his feet out the window, he declined an offer from Ren to stop to put heat shields on his heels — though he demanded more water.
Shifting the position of his feet, though Raikkonen still radioed late in the race that "everything is just burning up, my legs and my (butt)." He seemed to be in no pain walking through the garage in street clothes about 20 minutes after the checkered flag.
"It was hurting on the heels but didn’t really do anything," he said. "Just try to keep my foot off the floor and hold them up."
He also was fighting through more discomfort. With Raikkonen demanding water on each stop to manage the heat, Ren said a jack man handed him a mostly empty bottle during a stop under a Lap 74 yellow.
But the car came to life on a Lap 78 restart, picking up three spots in five laps under green, and he was in 15th for a Lap 91 restart. He smacked the Turn 4 wall on Lap 100. As the handling on his car faded, the team held him out longer during a green-flag pit stop sequence. He sped exiting the pits and then ran over a bright orange chunk of a splitter that came off another driver’s car. He had to pit again for damage and fell three laps down, losing another later under green.
"That just took us out of the day," Ren said. "Now it damaged the front of the car, took the downforce out, and now it really won’t turn. It pretty much ended our day."
Raikkonen said he still managed to have fun until the car went away and seemed to show improvement on restarts.
"It was nice in the beginning," he said. "I could overtake on the restarts, and it felt really good when it turned. But it turned out to be really bad, the handling. It felt I had to stop in the corner, just pushing all the time. But it’s the same thing happened in the first and second practice. We could improve it in the second practice, but somehow it came back for me. Anyhow, it’s a shame because at some points, it felt quite good.
"Once it got difficult, it’s because you cannot race, and it’s just trying to survive through the corners, and it’s not so much fun. Until that point, it was good."
That might have been hard to discern from Raikkonen’s radio, which often was littered with the same vulgarities used by NASCAR champions having rough days. But Ren didn’t think the frustration necessarily impacted Raikkonen’s performance or his ability to tune on the car.
"Someone else is passing you, or you drive in corner and it won’t turn, there’s nothing more frustrating," Ren said. "It’s easy for a guy to get upset. Especially a guy who’s won grand prix events and is an F1 champion and runs rally cars and is a very experienced race car driver.
"But he’s not any different from Kyle (Busch), Carl (Edwards), Jimmie (Johnson) or Kevin Harvick (FSY) . If they have a bad day, they get upset. We listen and try to cheerlead and do the best we can with cards we’ve been dealt."
Though Raikkonen radioed repeatedly that something was "wrong" with the car, Ren said it’s just a matter of learning to adapt to a car that weighs twice as much as an F1 car and has much skinnier tires.
"The front-running guys are saying the exact same thing (about handling)," Ren said. "These things just do not handle very well. You’ll hear drivers say the tires feel like they’re basketballs. It’s just a new feel to him. I’m sure he’s never raced cars with that much air pressure in the tires. It feels abnormal, but it’s part of how these cars react."
So how will Raikkonen react after his second NASCAR start and what will it mean for his future? Like much of his racing career, it’s a mystery.
"I don’t personally know what his expectations were when he came to the United States," Ren said. "I have no idea what his real goals are. We just tried to prepare the best vehicle we could and put him in good, quality equipment and try to have a really good day.
"We had a really good day going. I still look at it as positive: 43 started, he still finished 27th. It wasn’t a disastrous day. There was no doubt he was a top 15 guy again."