Raikkonen: “Fuori dalla pista vivo senza orari. Non ho finito, magari rivinco il mondiale”
Kimi Raikkonen a Singapore è un finlandese in una sauna naturale: dopo un quarto d’ora ha bisogno di aria condizionata. «Non amo il caldo e se potessi eviterei di venire qui – dice mentre assapora un venticello gelido nell’hospitality della Ferrari -. Ma ne ho viste tante e me la caverò anche stavolta». Va diretto al punto, come sempre, però adesso sorride, scherza, suda, racconta del privato. È un po’ meno Iceman («Chiamatemi come vi pare, non mi interessa») e un po’ più pilota esperto e navigato.
Si dice che quest’anno lei vada forte perché ha fretta di tagliare il traguardo e di tornare da suo figlio.
«Davvero? No, non credo che la paternità incida sulle prestazioni di un pilota. La velocità non c’entra con la famiglia».
Comunque questa è stata una delle sue migliori stagioni in Ferrari, a parte il titolo del 2007.
«È vero, anche se il Mondiale rimane il momento della carriera che mi è rimasto più impresso».
Nel 2015 qui finì con un terzo posto suo e la vittoria di Vettel. Come sono le premesse stavolta?
«Abbiamo alcune idee su cui lavorare. Il caldo di solito è una condizione a noi favorevole, il che non garantisce che finiremo primo e secondo».
Si è allenato in modo particolare?
«No. A che servirebbe cambiare abitudini per due settimane?».
A che ora va a dormire in questi giorni?
«Quando ho sonno».
E riesce ad adattarsi al fuso orario e alle temperature?
«Tra due settimane correremo in Malesia che è anche peggio, a volte ci sono Gran premi altrettanto caldi in Europa. Quando guidi te ne accorgi poco. I momenti peggiori sono le prove libere: torni ai box e devi stare lì, con il casco in testa, in attesa di ripartire».
«Spa è il migliore, poi Melbourne perché il primo della stagione e si ha voglia di ricominciare».
Come cambia la guida nei tracciati cittadini?
«Singapore è molto diverso da Montecarlo, mi ricorda Montreal. Il giro è lungo e insidioso, l’asfalto meno regolare rispetto ai tracciati tradizionali. Comunque alla fine la pista migliore è quella in cui le cose filano via senza imprevisti».
Com’è il rapporto con il suo compagno di squadra?
«Buono fin dall’inizio. Corriamo e lavoriamo bene insieme da due anni».
E con Verstappen?
«Personalmente non ho nulla contro di lui, ma non so se sia un sentimento reciproco».
La vendita della F1: che idea si è fatto?
«Non conosco i contenuti dell’accordo. Ho letto qualche titolo di giornale e non sono rimasto particolarmente colpito. In prospettiva, l’obiettivo è quello di rendere la Formula 1 più divertente e interessante per gli appassionati. Qualcuno si è svegliato e ha deciso che questo è il momento di cambiare».
Ha già ragionato sul suo futuro oltre il 2017?
«No, non sono arrivato tanto in là. Adesso penso al weekend di Singapore, poi a finire bene questo campionato e infine a cominciare al meglio il prossimo. Magari lotterò per il titolo e a quel punto chissà. Ne parlerò con la Ferrari».
Lei è il pilota più anziano, ha quasi 37 anni ed è in F1 dal 2001…
«Sì, ma mi sono anche fatto due anni di vacanza (ride). Nei rally, intendo».
Qual è stata la macchina più divertente con cui ha gareggiato?
«La Ferrari del 2007. In quel campionato c’erano due fornitori di pneumatici, Bridgestone e Michelin, e la competizione li spingeva e produrre gomme sempre più veloci».
Che macchina guida nel tempo libero?
Forse una Giulia…
«No, no, una Giulietta. Modello base, colore viola».
Tutti si aspettano che un pilota di F1 guidi una Ferrari rossa. Soprattutto se è un pilota Ferrari.
«Me l’hanno regalata. La uso in Svizzera per andare e tornare dall’aeroporto, non ci devo fare lunghi viaggi».
Che sport pratica fuori dalla F1?
«In inverno l’hockey. Mi piace anche il calcio, ci giocavo da ragazzo».
Com’è una giornata a casa Raikkonen?
«Libera. Vede questo foglio? (mostra il programma delle conferenze stampa durante il fine settimana di Singapore, ndr). Nella mia giornata in famiglia non esistono orari. Faccio quello che voglio quando ne ho voglia».
Da La Stampa.it
From Sauber to Ferrari – Kimi Raikkonen on F1’s evolution
Not only is he one of the most popular drivers on the grid and an F1 world champion, Kimi Raikkonen is also the eighth most experienced driver in history in terms of race starts. In that time, Raikkonen has raced V10s, V8s, tried his hand at rallying and is now trying to help Ferrari return to the front during the highly technological V6 era.
So what have been the big differences during his time in F1? And where are the big gains made which Raikkonen hopes will eventually see the Scuderia fighting for championships again in the near future? After signing a new contract at Ferrari, the Finn sat down with F1i to reminisce.
The Sauber and McLaren years
Raikkonen first drove an F1 car at Mugello in late 2000 as Sauber evaluated the quick youngster who had impressed during his debut year of Formula Renault. Then just 20 years old, Raikkonen admits he needed a day to adapt to grand prix machinery.
“I didn’t really have much idea because obviously I had never seen the car in real life – OK I’d seen them but not at the racetrack – apart from the day I went there and it was hard to know what to expect,” Raikkonen recalls. “I did Formula Renault, I did one test in Formula 3, OK it’s a bit faster than Formula Renault but not so much. The first test I did at Mugello, I was at the circuit earlier that year with Formula Renault but it’s a slightly different story with the F1 car!
“I think I went into it very open-minded because I didn’t really know what to expect so I just wanted to see how it is. Obviously it was a bit tricky because the conditioning for F1, my neck couldn’t handle it – any other circuit would have been a lot easier – so I could do maybe three laps and then I would box and wait. Obviously at that time there was no power steering in the car so that was a bit hard.
“I didn’t feel that it was so difficult to drive, it was just more the speed, to get used to the speed. Everything happens much faster and obviously it takes a while to get used to how hard you can brake. I would say the first day was a bit tricky because of that, just because everything happens so quickly, but then already after the first night it was a lot like everything slowed down and got more normal like you would drive a Formula Renault. It just slows down and it’s so much easier. It was an amazing feeling.”
The move to McLaren came about just a year later, with Raikkonen having impressed in his debut F1 season. You’d think the change to a front-running car was a noticeable one for a young driver, but the Finn says his first F1 car was still a competitive chassis.
“In a way yes, but I think we had a pretty good car at Sauber. It wasn’t like a completely bad car and we finished fourth in the championship so it was not a bad car at all. They did the best with their budget. McLaren is how it comes, a big team and so many people, it used to be in their old factory and not where they are now. English and Swiss teams have slightly different ways of working to achieve the same results.
“Car-wise every car is different, but I think we changed to Michelins as well at that time so I think that was the bigger difference to try and learn the tyres from Michelin. So the car was hard to compare really. It’s still a top, top team comparing with Sauber, but it was like you’ve jumped from one year to another year, it wasn’t like a completely new thing.
“So it was exciting, nice and new but I didn’t really find it so hard. There was always a lot more help from the team because they have more people and more money to use so in a way things got easier because of that. And then with experience it was also quite a lot different.”
Sat in the Shell track lab in the Ferrari trucks at Silverstone, the surroundings highlight just how much more support front-running teams can get in F1 thanks to close partnerships. Raikkonen says those sort of details stepping up from Sauber to McLaren are what start to make a big difference.
“You have a lot more resource for the team to develop the car, engine, fuel, oil, everything. More so electronics because it was a big part of that time [in the early 2000s]. In Sauber we got the power steering in Monza I think and obviously it was quite a nice thing, but all the small details that can make a lot of lap time – the diff, traction control and stuff – even then we had all the gearboxes that you could have, but the upshifts and downshifts, if you have more people you can put into those things it can make up a lot of lap time.
“So in that way it was also easier because there was not the knowledge and not enough people to do those things [in smaller teams]. It was just more people but they are trying to achieve the same result in two different companies. So McLaren took me in very easily and I felt straight away good. I had very good engineers there and it was just a new challenge.”
A first switch to Ferrari
Still searching for the drivers’ championship, Raikkonen moved to Maranello in 2007 to replace the outgoing Michael Schumacher. They were huge shoes to fill, but the first season brought the success Raikkonen had been searching for. So was that year’s Ferrari F2007 the best car he has driven in F1, or is that too simplistic given his title victory?
“Again the big difference was to change tyres,” Raikkonen explains. “To go from using Michelins for many years and then go back to Bridgestone; and it wasn’t the Bridgestone that it used to be before, it was completely different because everybody had the same tyres. So it was nowhere near as good or as special tyres as when there were two manufacturers fighting against each other. That made a big difference and also how you can drive and how the tyres work. So if you could have had the same tyres I don’t think it would have been so tricky, because it was not easy.
“Obviously between all of the cars I have driven, comparing the Ferrari it has always been harder to get it working, it takes more time to get it how you want. Once you get it then it’s fine, but it’s different. In those years when the tyres changed and went backwards – when I jumped to Michelin there was more grip and they made better tyres and kept improving – so it was a bit going the opposite way.
“Again a different country and different people, but I really enjoyed it. I was many years with McLaren and once I came to Ferrari I had a contract knowing I was going there for a long, long time and it was nice. You dream – or maybe you don’t dream – but Ferrari’s Ferrari, you know? And the other teams, they are not Ferrari. I don’t care how much they have won and all that.”
The season itself was a dramatic one, which Raikkonen admits was far from easy even if it resulted in championship success at the final round in Brazil.
“Obviously I struggled a bit in the beginning during testing, finding a lot of different ways of doing similar things. Then we found our way, then we had some struggles but we managed to turn everything around and make a good season out of it, but it wasn’t easy in any way. We started well, maybe too well, because then it went back to normal and we knew we were not where we wanted to be at the start. We hung in there, we had some issues but we came back very strong but it was an amazing year.
“You always wish it could be more smooth sailing because it was a lot of up and down but we managed to do it in the end and we won more races than the other guys and had more points. I didn’t expect to win the championship straight away, especially with Ferrari, and it hasn’t been easy at any point but I think we’re getting back to where we feel that it’s going in the right direction and it has been going well for a couple of years. I’m sure we can get back to where Ferrari used to be and where we should be.”
A break and a return with Lotus
Having already enjoyed nine consecutive seasons in F1, Raikkonen took a break and went to compete in other motorsport categories – mainly rallying – for two years. He had only experienced one year of new aero regulations when he left, and in a less competitive Ferrari than he had been used to.
Returning to F1 two years before the V6 turbo engines were introduced, Raikkonen had to adapt to another new team in the form of Lotus, and a new tyre manufacturer in Pirelli. It’s a period he feels improved him as a driver, as he had to learn additional skills on top of his raw driving talent.
“Obviously I had my doubts because I hadn’t driven for a few years in F1 but I also knew more or less how it’s going to be,” Raikkonen says of his return to the sport. “Every year there are rule changes, this and that, tyres change, but I was pretty sure that as long as the front is somewhere there with the car we’ll be just fine with it.
“When I drove a two-year old car – the first Lotus – with the demo tyres in Valencia it felt good straight away. There were some issues we had to fix with the steering and stuff, some minor details, but it felt very normal from the first lap. So I think it was a good place to start. In Valencia I haven’t done too many laps in my life because it’s a short circuit and not the fastest circuit but after ten laps it felt very normal and I knew it would be just fine.
“Then there is a question mark over how is that year’s car comparing to the others, but when I came back I didn’t have many worries. OK you always have something in your mind about how it’s going to be but I would never have signed a contract if I didn’t think that it would be fine. One big benefit that I felt was that I was driving all the time, I was racing and in the rally – whatever people say – it teaches you a lot. Even when I did rallies in 2009 with Ferrari I felt that it was only helpful.
“Obviously there are dangers and stuff like this but you can get hurt anywhere so I think it teaches you a lot because you have to be so precise and concentration has to be even higher because you have to listen all the time. It’s not just listening but driving too, so you have to mix a few things and until that gets completely normal to the point you’re not thinking about it you will never be fast enough.
“I could be as fast as the others on test roads because you know it and it’s not an issue. But then to do it from the notes – and you have to build the notes up – I felt that it teaches you a lot. And it helps for sure to be driving because it’s a very hard sport, so that’s why if I was not doing anything for two years for sure it would take time but I felt like it was not such a big deal.”
Ferrari comes calling again as V6s arrive
At the start of the new power unit era, Raikkonen returned to Ferrari for a second time. While the team is familiar, the regulations and the sport itself is very different from the last time at Maranello.
Nowadays, it is not just new front wings or engine updates which help increase the car’s competitiveness, with Shell providing Ferrari with 25% of its overall performance gain in 2015 through fuel and oil. Guy Lovett, Shell’s Innovation Manager for motorsport, works out of the track lab where Raikkonen is sat, and explains the improvements all come within very strict regulations.
“In Formula 1 the fuel is really tightly regulated, which is a good thing because it means that the fuel we’re using here for Ferrari in Formula 1 is very, very similar to the fuel you can buy out in a gas station,” Lovett says. “It’s 99% the same. For Shell that is absolutely imperative because all the technology and all the innovation that we yield from working in Formula 1 and motorsport we can then transfer to our road-going products. That is of fundamental importance to us.
“Nevertheless, the regulations do allow for a degree of innovation, which again is important to us to be able to trial new concepts, new technologies and new additives here in Formula 1 in quite controlled yet incredibly extreme conditions.
“Right now there are no limits to the number of formulations you can bring and there’s very little regulation governing the oils. There is a bit on fuel but still there is enough scope for us to innovate. Fuel and oil have always been relatively unconstrained in a good way to push forward development, where engine regulations have been somewhat more fixed in the past. So, looking at the V8 era, again there were very little regulations governing fuel and oil whereas the engines were pretty much fixed towards the end of the V8 time.
“It’s opened up a lot more from an engine perspective with the V6, it’s starting to be more prescribed. Next year is going to get a little bit more interesting, a little bit freer but it will be the same for us and that’s what we want. We’re here to innovate and develop and learn. Our mandates are to help Ferrari win and transfer technology from track to road. Kind of simple in that respect!”
When Raikkonen jumps in the car, he admits the performance gains are difficult to notice, but that again is a product of the evolution in F1 as teams and suppliers rarely get the chance to do back-to-back comparisons of upgrades.
“It’s hard to feel the difference,” Raikkonen says. “In the past it was much easier when we were testing between races because you could do one run with this fuel and then change it for the next run so you can really feel it or maybe or not. Obviously if it’s just one horsepower or two then you will probably never feel it because you can have one lap with the wind blowing one way and then the other on the next lap!
“But you could often feel it, whereas now it’s either one race weekend or another, different places, different wing levels, often different conditions, so there’s so many variables that it has to be a big, big change on anything that we bring to the car to really pinpoint ‘OK, yes I can feel it’, because we don’t do that kind of testing. Like when we used to do tyre testing we would do one run and then do the next run with a different tyre so you could get a good idea of things.
“Now it’s more like we trust the numbers, that’s why we have all these things [in the lab]. Obviously Shell has been a long partnership with Ferrari and even when I was with them in 2007 and 2008 and 2009, in 07 we made big, big gains in fuel and oil and lots of horsepower. So I knew how it works, and obviously now with the new rules and everything it is a big benefit to have this relationship because obviously certain years you get close to the maximum you can achieve under those rules. Now everything has been mixed up with new rules, you again have more opportunities to make a big difference. So for sure we get a lot of help from Shell.”
Having been through so much in his career already and having to adapt to new ways of working, does Raikkonen find the current formula in F1 enjoyable? Put simply: “Yeah.
“When it came in in 2014 everything was new and probably not at the level we wanted. OK, some teams were at the level they wanted, but for sure we were not happy with where we were. Drivability was also depending on how good your car is or the grip on the circuit or conditions, it wasn’t always easy [to judge] because it made it quite tricky. But now after a few years everything has improved so much.
“Driving-wise the sound is different but the driving itself hasn’t changed. You drive the same way, OK you have fuel saving but in the past you had brake saving or something, so it’s the same thing just affecting different things. So I wouldn’t say there’s an awful lot different apart from the sound and I guess a certain feeling around you, but for me it’s good already again that it’s normal now.”
Happy to disappoint by keeping Ferrari seat – Kimi Raikkonen Q&A
Barely 24 hours after signing a contract extension for 2017 with Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen came out of a scrappy qualifying session at Silverstone with a half-second advantage over team mate Sebastian Vettel. Cause for celebration? Not exactly, according to Raikkonen – although he is happy to have put to bed the constant speculation linking other drivers to his seat with the Scuderia…
Q: Kimi, let’s start with the obvious: you have been confirmed for another year. Does that make things easier?
Kimi Raikkonen: For sure it makes things easier. Because people will stop asking the same question over and over again! And that makes a huge difference. (laughs) It also gives me pleasure that it is disappointing a lot of people who had high hopes. So it was good that there was a decision now and not towards the end of the season, because from now on we can fully concentrate on the remaining 2016 season and the changes for 2017. The rest – the racing and working with the team – doesn’t really change. Of course I am very happy to stay with Ferrari. Also I am interested to experience the changes of 2017. Faster cars and wider tyres – that sounds pretty good to me.
Q: Coming to today, what do you make of the gap to Red Bull and Mercedes?
KR: Well, it is not ideal. But the conditions have also been pretty tricky. There was simply not enough speed and with the wind that is here we probably knew that we would suffer a bit. I hope the race will be much easier, at least concerning the wind.
Q: And what about your gap to Sebastian Vettel – more than half a second. What do you make of that?
KR: Ah, I don’t make anything out of that. I know that the media jump on things like that. But for me it is completely irrelevant. If it would be about pole position and P2 I probably would waste a thought on it. But it is about P5 and P6 – and that is not worth thinking of.
Q: You just mentioned that the conditions were not easy for Ferrari. Did you come here expecting to face some oddities?
KR: Well, we probably knew that there would be some issues in the handling of the car. But then you come here and find conditions that make it a bit harder to handle than expected. Overall we are where we expected to be. No big disappointment – and no miracles.
Q: Was there a particular reason for your spin?
KR: It was just going over the kerbs – but it didn’t have any impact other than probably losing some time.
Q: What kind of difficulties are you facing here exactly? Is it the set-up, the temperature of the tyres? Can you say? And are they Silverstone-specific, or more generic?
KR: It is the same story at all the races so far this season. We want more downforce and find it hard to settle on the right set-up in that situation. And then if you have conditions like today it adds fuel to the fire. But that is how it is and we know that not enough downforce is one of our weaknesses – but we also know that you don’t fix that in the blink of an eye.
Q: So the set-up issues are at every circuit, or particular to Silverstone?
KR: It is basically just here. On top of that we had some small issues here and there to be really comfortable. That adds up. And on top of that we suffer from the wind. Everybody is suffering from it – maybe us more than others.
Q: When you look at the race tomorrow, do you expect to suffer more than others again then – at least if the conditions stay dry?
KR: Ha. I have not driven other cars so how would I know? And as for suffering from the wind, the key question is always the direction it blows. Maybe we will see tailwind tomorrow – who knows?
Ferrari president says Raikkonen must prove he deserves new F1 deal
Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne believes Kimi Raikkonen needs to prove he is worthy of a contract extension for 2017 if he wants to remain in Formula 1.
Raikkonen’s F1 future has been in the spotlight in recent weeks, with Ferrari in no hurry to resolve who will drive alongside Sebastian Vettel next season.
Speaking to Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport, Marchionne called on Raikkonen to perform "like the world champion he is".
"We are under no illusion with Kimi, his stay at Ferrari depends on the way he races," he said.
"He really needs to show he deserves a Ferrari, otherwise I would think that to leave is his choice.
"If we can’t give a positive contribution then it’s not worth staying, and Kimi knows that.
"So, either he races like the world champion he is, otherwise…
"But I’m confident he will. Let’s support him."
Ferrari is 81 points behind Mercedes in the constructors’ championship and is yet to win a race in 2016, with Red Bull beating it to victory at Barcelona when Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton clashed.
Having set high hopes after making a big step forward in 2015, Marchionne conceded its SF16-H is not making life easy.
"Their secret is the car’s stability," he said of Mercedes.
"The Ferrari SF16-H came to being with new ideas compared to 2015.
"On paper, when it was designed, it had an aesthetics and engineering beauty that, once on the track, had different behaviour from what was expected.
"We are trying to tame the car in order to understand what it needs to be productive on the performance level.
"It’s a very difficult car."
Faccia a faccia con Arrivabene: "Ci credo, non firmerei per tre vittorie!"
Passiamo agli attuali piloti Ferrari. Il tuo approccio con loro è identico o cerchi di andare incontro a due personalità estremamente differenti?
“E’ un compromesso. Ho un rapporto molto diretto e sincero con loro, e viceversa. Ci confrontiamo in modo molto chiaro, senza giri di parole. Non c’è mai stato bisogno di imporre nulla, si arriva insieme a ciò che va fatto. Poi i caratteri sono diversi. Kimi è più introverso, ma in questo ultimo anno e mezzo ha dialogato sempre di più, ed è molto preciso quando fornisce delle indicazioni”.
“Sebastian è aperto, meticoloso, maniaco dei dettagli. Entrambi sono dei grandi professionisti, e lo si vede quando le cose non vanno bene. In certe situazioni verrebbe da demoralizzarsi, ma subito dopo si analizza l’accaduto e si riparte. E se ci si ritrova a cena, si scoprono ragazzi simpatici, intelligenti, persone cha lavorano in Formula 1 ma con cui puoi affrontare tanti temi, che leggono molto ed hanno occhi che vanno al di là del paddock”.
Quando la Ferrari ha un pilota in scadenza di contratto non può sottrarsi al gioco dei pronostici in vista della prossima stagione. Resterà Raikkonen o guardate oltre?
“Ho detto più volte che abbiamo due piloti campioni del Mondo. Sebastian ha voluto la Ferrari, era una sua aspirazione come lo è di tantissimi altri piloti. E’ concentrato sul suo lavoro e credo che voglia rimanere qui a lungo. Kimi sta dando il suo contributo anche per la classifica costruttori, e nelle prima parte del Mondiale 2016 sta andando bene. Quando la macchina è a posto, non credo che sia inferiore a nessuno. Ma è presto per dare risposte definitive in vista del prossimo anno, abbiamo quasi due terzi di campionato davanti a noi”. […]
Secondo Prost cambiare Raikkonen è un rischio per la Ferrari
La Ferrari potrebbe trovare un pilota più veloce per sostituire Kimi Raikkonen nel 2017, ma una mossa di questo tipo potrebbe non essere la cosa migliore secondo Alain Prost.
Il contratto di Raikkonen con la Casa di Maranello andrà in scadenza alla fine dell’anno e hanno preso sempre più piede gli interrogativi su cosa faranno i vertici della Ferrari, alla luce anche dei recenti errori del finlandese.
Tuttavia, la Ferrari è ben consapevole del fatto che Raikkonen è un ottimo compagno di squadra per Sebastian Vettel e, dopo che la scorsa settimana non ha avuto problemi a lasciargli strada a Baku, il team non può non riconoscere i vantaggi di avere due piloti che vanno d’accordo.
Parlando alla FIA Sport Conference di Torino, Alain Prost ha spiegato che la squadra italiana deve affrontare una scelta difficile, soprattutto vista la disponibilità di talenti promettenti come Carlos Sainz e Sergio Perez.
"Tutti possono vedere gli aspetti positivi e gli aspetti negativi" ha detto Prost sulla situazione di Raikkonen. "Ci sono uno o due piloti sul mercato che potrebbero essere interessanti per la Ferrari. Forse un po’ più veloci, anche se non lo si può sapere per certo".
"Una cosa che bisogna prendere in considerazione è la pressione della Ferrari. A volte si vedono dei piloti molto buoni in una squadra di medio livello, poi arrivano in un top team e non riescono a rendere, perché è un po’ diverso".
"L’aspetto positivo per Raikkonen è che un buonissimo rapporto con Vettel e che in questo modo c’è un numero uno ed un numero due. Non sulla carta, ma nei fatti. Per l’ambiente non è male".
"Ad essere onesti, io non biasimo la Ferrari e non la voglio criticare. Sono sicuro che prenderanno la decisione giusta".
Kimi Raikkonen Q&A: Pressure not affecting Ferrari form
They may not have won a race this year, and they may currently be feeling more pressure from Red Bull than they’re applying to Mercedes, but – in the opinion of Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari are in a much better position this season than last. In an exclusive interview, the Finn explains why he believes victories are within sight, discusses the heavy weight of expectation that comes with driving for the Prancing Horse, and holds forth on the thorny subject of his future in F1…
Q: Kimi, it is a bit of an irony that after six races the ‘fill-in’ is doing better than the actual star of the team. What do you make out of that?
Kimi Raikkonen: Ha, I don’t feel like a ‘fill-in’! We are a team and we try to do well! Period. Yes, it is what it is right now but it is still early season and we definitely hope to be higher up soon as a team…
Q: …but do you feel like the darling of Ferrari right now?
KR: No! (laughs)
Q: Very recently Seb (Vettel) said that if he could choose just one team mate it would be you. But Seb is also somebody who hates to be second best so how does he cope with that exactly?
KR: Nothing has changed. We both work for the team and do our maximum – and that is a benefit for both of us – and for the team. The main issue for both of us right now is to put Ferrari to where it belongs. Yes, we haven’t had an ideal season – both of us – so far, but hopefully we can be right up there in the future with both cars – and then let’s see where we end up.
Q: Ferrari started with a mission this season – to challenge for the title. But recently something always seems to happen in races that interrupts that mission. What is the main reason from Kimi Raikkonen’s point of view?
KR: That sounds as if we would not be in a fight. But let me tell you: we are in a fight and will fight until the last moment and try to win the championship. So far there hasn’t been an ideal start of the year – we’ve both had DNFs and those circumstances don’t help in the standings – but be sure that we won’t give up. We are working like hell – and we will get the results!
Q: How much have reliability issues played a part? The new Ferrari engine doesn’t seem to be the real killer…
KR: We had small issues that had cost us quite a few points – but no major troubles. The team has been very quick to fix these things and now we are happy on that side.
Q: This year Ferrari wanted to close the gap to Mercedes, but currently they are the ones being threatened – by Red Bull Racing for P2 in the pecking order. Are Ferrari in a defensive situation?
KR: As I just said, we haven’t had the most straightforward start of the year, but I am sure that we have the speed and I know that we are able to fight for wins. And we want to win races! We don’t care who we are fighting with. Ideally it has to be a Ferrari finishing first and second!
Q: You speak so strongly about Ferrari winning races so it must be pretty disappointing that Ferrari has not won a single race so far in 2016…
KR: We want to win races – of course – and if people say that now we are worse than last year I reply: we are not! The package is good, the team is working better together and we’ve made a big step forward from last year. That is fact – whatever people try to say! That is all nonsense. What is probably underestimated is that the races got mixed up from last season that the races we’ve been usually strong have been moved to a later point in the season and those were we have expected to have more of a hard time have been moved to the beginning of the year. So when it looks like we were doing better last season it does not show the whole picture. Of course, for those that don’t know all the circumstances and only look at the plain numbers it might appear that way. But that doesn’t affect us at all. That is basically nonsense that the media make up. We know that we’ve improved but probably not to the level that we would have wanted. But we are working on that!
Q: What is that level that you call upon?
KR: We want to be where Ferrari should be: at one and two! Be the team that everybody wants to beat.
Q: Ferrari’s president Sergio Marchionne is putting a lot of pressure on the team. Is that helpful?
KR: A team like Ferrari traditionally has more pressure than any other team – that will never change. So everybody expects us to do well – that’s in the name. And we put ourselves under pressure, as nobody in the team is happy if we don’t win. So in the end it does not matter if he (Marchionne) gives us pressure or somebody else. We know what we want to do and want to achieve.
Q: As Finns, you and Valtteri Bottas can rely on the principle of Sisu (loosely translated as a kind of stoic determination) – but lately Nico Rosberg has also claimed that this Sisu is also propelling his career…
KR: …wait a minute! Not me! I have never said that Sisu has anything to do with me! For me Sisu is just a Finnish candy – and whatever people attribute to that mental side of Sisu I don’t buy it!
Q: No driver triggers as many rumours about his F1 future as you – and it’s been the same now for years. Isn’t that tiresome for you?
KR: Not anymore as this has been going on since the second year I was in Formula One! All this speculation doesn’t touch me. I simply don’t care about it – it’s not my business! I do not comment on rumours.
Q: …but haven’t you been surprised that suddenly Nico Rosberg has appeared in the picture, with rumours that he might change Mercedes silver for Ferrari red?
KR: As I said: I am not interested in commenting on any crude stories. I know what is going on – and that is enough for me. I know that will not stop any rumours – but I also know that the future will prove many people wrong! But: my lips are sealed! (laughs)
Q: But Formula One is still what you want to do?
KR: I would not be here otherwise. If you don’t enjoy what you do the normal impulse would be to stop it – no?
Q: Is there a feeling of still having unfinished business in F1? You are the last Ferrari world champion so definitely no unfinished business here…
KR: Ha, I still to have business here! As I just said: I would not be here if not. If I would not enjoy racing or being part of Ferrari I would not be here. Our aim is to put Ferrari back where it belongs – and that’s not unfinished business – that’s a mission! And racing is still my passion – even though F1 has changed a lot since I have started. Every year it seems to get more and more silly – but I keep out of that and don’t get involved!
Q: So let’s find out what has to happen for Kimi Raikkonen to call 2016 a good season
KR: If we win, we will be happy. If not then the job was not good enough. We want to win the championship and not single races – that’s why we are here – not just for being here. Anything is not what we want.
Q: If you could pick one race from all the races to come that you would love to win, which one would you pick?
KR: It doesn’t matter. The best (answer) is as many as we can. And in the end all race wins give you the same amount of points – so I am passionless about a particular race. But best we could start this Sunday!
Ferrari driver Raikkonen’s lack of ‘games’ a good fit, Vettel says
Sebastian Vettel would be comfortable with Formula 1 team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and his lack of "tricks or games" staying at Ferrari next year.
Ferrari waited until the 2015 summer break to re-sign Raikkonen for this F1 campaign and is likely to wait until the same window again before making a decision about next season.
Daniel Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas, Nico Rosberg, Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean are said to be in the frame to take Raikkonen’s seat and partner Vettel in 2017.
Raikkonen, who won the 2007 championship with Ferrari and rejoined the team in ’14, said he is happy and wants to stay beyond this year.
When asked by Autosport if he would want Raikkonen to stay on, Vettel said: "I certainly don’t mind, we definitely get along.
"It’s easy to work with him because you don’t need to worry about any tricks or games or whatever that are potentially a distraction to getting the job done."
On the potential of Ricciardo joining Ferrari, which would reform the partnership the two had at Red Bull, the German said: "I raced with him in 2014 and we didn’t have any problems.
"It’s not my decision, it’s not my job to sign people.
"I don’t mind him, I like him, he’s a strong guy.
"He had a good season in 2014.
"This year, it’s difficult to judge as you don’t know what is going on internally, but from what I know, he’s a good guy."
Vettel was overshadowed by Ricciardo in 2014, with the latter winning three races and finishing higher in the championship.
When asked if he would favour having the Australian as a team-mate again because he has unfinished business, Vettel said: "Not really, 2014 is behind me.
"The way I look at it is different to what [other] people look at and what they remember.
"In the end you don’t take the raw result.
"It’s the same as on a test day, someone is P1 but he is P1 for many reasons.
"I haven’t spoken with the team, it hasn’t been a subject that has come up yet.
"With where we are currently, we are busy enough trying to close the gap – that’s the main priority."
Kimi Raikkonen: Ferrari must ‘clean things up’ to beat Mercedes
Kimi Raikkonen believes the Ferrari Formula 1 team will only beat Mercedes when it can "clean things up".
Though Mercedes has regularly insisted Ferrari is now its equal, all three grands prix of 2016 so far have been won by Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg.
Ferrari has had a single driver on the podium each time, but has been hampered by poor reliability and incidents such as the collision involving Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Daniil Kvyat at the start of the Chinese Grand Prix last weekend.
"Not having clean races isn’t the way to beat them [Mercedes]," said Raikkonen.
"The main idea is to improve the car and the whole package.
"We have to clean things up as that won’t help in the championship.
"It’s not ideal for us – it is for him [Rosberg] and he deserves it.
"We just have to do a better job."
Rosberg has now stretched his championship lead to 36 points over Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton with Daniel Ricciardo a further three adrift.
Vettel is fourth overall, 42 points behind Rosberg, with Raikkonen another five points back in fifth.
Raikkonen is refusing to get downbeat and remains confident Ferrari can get its act together.
"It’s only three races of the season, a lot can happen," he said.
"We just have to make the best points we can and not have any issues in the races and put ourselves in front of him.
"Speed-wise we are not too bad, we are not 100 per cent happy but we were close to him.
"At least in China we seemed to be close.
"I’m sure we can have very strong races this year and win races and fight with them [Mercedes]."