If Kimi comes back, isn’t that something to celebrate?
"If I owned a team and Kimi Raikkonen was available, I wouldn’t take him on," wrote Jacques Villeneuve in his F1 Racing column back in March. "Why would a team want to take on someone who wasn’t interested in being there?"
He may well want to ask his former boss and fellow columnist Frank Williams. It’s a fact that Kimi’s been to Grove and, as we were working on this month’s cover feature, the word was that Kimi had already discussed the thorny issue of PR days with them – and apparently agreed to do more than he had for any other team. Kimi’s mood seems to have shifted: he’s always had the air of someone who’d only come back with a top team yet now he’s seemingly open to offers from the lower midfield.
Ultimately, most fans would love to have Kimi back. But Villeneuve’s view – which is shared by others – is that Raikkonen’s behaviour was not heroically anti-establishment but disrespectful to fans. Really? When a driver gets out of the car and thanks his sponsors before the people who’ve paid their hard-earned cash to come and watch, isn’t that sort of depressingly corporate behaviour just as disrespectful? If a gifted racing driver who’s fond of the odd choc ice and dressing up as a gorilla while jet-skiing wants to come back, surely we should roll out the red carpet and relish seeing whether he’s still got it on the track. F1 doesn’t need any more robots, but colourful ex-world champions are in short supply.
Kimi charmed by WRC media
The media often get a bad press (which is ironic if you think about it) but Kimi Raikkonen reckons that the way the World Rally Championship is covered is one of the best things about it.
In Formula One, it’s fair to say that Kimi and the media weren’t always the best of friends. Because of that, he’s always been somewhat wary of people twisting his words.
In the WRC though, that’s starting to change. “I got the feeling last year from the start that the people who are involved in the rally media are more interested just in the sport and what is happening on the stages, rather than creating bullshit stories with big headlines outside of it,” said the Iceman. “The F1 journalists write more about other things than the sport sometimes. There’s less of that in rallying, it’s a different way of thinking.”
Whether or not the unparalleled charm of the international WRC press corps is going to be enough to keep Kimi in the world championship remains to be seen, but the former grand prix champion admits that it’s been a lot easier this year compared to 2010.
“It definitely comes more naturally,” he said. “Once you get onto the level where it feels normal and you don’t have to think about it you can push harder and you can improve a lot. Now I don’t have to think about the notes. Compared to last year, it’s completely different.”
The Iceman cometh back
He left F1 at the end of 2009 to try his hand at rallying and even NASCAR trucks. Now, after all the endless speculation, you can hear it exclusively from the man himself: Kimi Raikkonen wants to return. The question is… where to?
Kmi Raikkonen, despite a widespread reputation to the contrary, is not an enigma. In fact, he is one of the most straightforward yet misunderstood characters in motor racing. All he wants to do is win – in the most efficient way possible. What could be more logical than that?
But some people make the mistake of confusing a lack of communication with a lack of motivation when, in fact, the exact opposite is true. What is perceived to be a monosyllabic outlook on life (once prompting paddock magazine The Red Bulletin to produce a photo feature called ‘The 12 moods of Kimi Raikkonen’ – the catch being that all 12 photos were identical) is not even true: Kimi has plenty to say when he believes that there is something worthwhile to say or – more pertinently – something worthwhile to respond to.
The problem with polite conversation is that it’s meaningless. Let’s be honest: nobody is ever really interested in the weather or how your journey was. And this is just the normal world we’re talking about: imagine what it’s like in the rarefied atmosphere of Formula 1 where the air is as rendolent with self-absorption as it is with designer aftershave and there are more hidden agendas than in the cellar of a stationary shop.
So Kimi prefers to maintain a dignified silence about the recent flurry of speculation that has linked him to various Formula 1 teams – although he admits that a move back is possible. But lots of things are possible, including life on Mars, and the truth of the matter is that nothing has been agreed for 2012. Kimi Raikkonen’s diary for next year is blank… for the moment at least.
"For now there’s really nothing and before I have anything 100 per cent confirmed, there’s no point in talking," he points out with his characteristic honesty. Part of the reason why Kimi doesn’t always say very much is because he doesn’t like lying.
The currency of Formula 1 – much to Kimi’s bemusement – is rumour. You have two choices: either play the game, fuel the fire and start the gradual process of disappearing up your own rectum, or stay well out of it. But there is a third option, too: just say what you mean and try to rise above the politicking. However, a problem exists with that as well. Chances are that whatever you say, someone at some point will try to use it against you. The effort would be far better invested in the driving, which of course is the only reason why you’re here in the first place.
Kimi’s exit caused by fuel leak
Citroen Racing Technologies’ boss Benoit Nogier has confirmed that a fuel leak caused Kimi Raikkonen’s retirement from RallyRACC-Rally de Espana on Friday morning.
Raikkonen, Formula One world champion in 2007, was fighting back from the time lost on the dust-coated opening stage when he stopped on stage three.
“We had a problem with a fuel leak and he had to stop in the stage,” said Nogier. “It was a very, very small leak but we lost a lot of fuel. It was something almost invisible and it was really difficult to find what the problem was.”
Nogier, who said a full analysis of the fuel leak problem would take place in order to establish the precise cause, confirmed Raikkonen’s Citroen DS3 WRC had briefly caught fire although there was little damage as a result of this.
Raikkonen elected not to restart under SupeRally rules this morning, even though his car had been repaired.
“Kimi took the decision to keep the car for the next rally, the last event of the season, which will be very important,” said Nogier. “We prefer not to take any risks to keep the full potential for the next rally.”
[…] “Five cars have been prepared in our workshops for this rally”, explain Benoît Nogier, the man in charge of the Versailles-Satory based team. “In addition to the four race-prepared DS3 WRCs, a fifth was made available for a test session this week.”
Kimi Räikkönen (ICE1 Racing) racked up six consecutives top-10 finishes in the early part of the season, and the Finn is tackling Rally Spain full of ambition: “Kimi’s potential is increasing in leaps and bounds. In Rally France he could have finished in the first five. By tacking advantage of a good starting position on the first day, and with the speed he’s already shown on dry tarmac he could achieve a very good result”.
The Citroën DS3 WRCs Prepare For Their Debut On Tarmac
Three Citroën DS3 WRCs have been entered for the ADAC Rally Germany for Petter Solberg / Chris Patterson, Kimi Räikkönen / Kaj Lindström and Peter van Merksteijn Jr / Erwin Mombaerts with the backing of Citroën Racing Technologies. The three crews fettled in their cars in intense test sessions that left nothing to chance for this event, the first on tarmac in 2011.
The three drivers shared six days’ testing in Germany on roads in the Mosel vineyards and then in the Baumholder military camp. Almost 1200 kilometres – the equivalent of a complete rally per crew – were covered.
"After between six and eight months without racing on tarmac, it was necessary to spend at least two days finding our marks," said Benoît Nogier, the Citroën Racing Technologies team manager. "Our three crews were able to test the setups decided by the works team in the heart of the vines and on the special roads in the military camp. Peter Solberg, Kimi Räikkönen and Peter Van Merksteijn Junior were very happy with the solutions and were able to fine-tune their setups. We hope that our preparation will be translated into good times in the stages."
The Citroën DS3 WRCs took advantage of the variable weather to run on both wet and dry roads: "The situation was perfect to find our grip level in different conditions. We also worked on new tyres and their working windows. The drivers felt a bigger difference between the soft and hard rubber. Tyre choice will play a greater role than in the past. In all cases there’s no room for error.
Last year Kimi Räikkönen (ICE1 Racing), on his maiden outing in Rally Germany set his first quickest time in the FIA World Rally Championship. At the wheel of a Citroën WRC, the Finn topped the time sheets in the last city stage. This season the Power Stage will be Circus Maximus Trier.
Kimi Räikkönen and Kaj Lindström, who already showed a promising turn of speed in the previous rally in Greece, confirmed their progress in Finland. The ICE1 Racing driver started his third Rally Finland at a searing pace only a second per kilometre off the reference time, and finished the first leg in thirteenth place. He lost precious time due to a minor error on Friday morning. On the way back to Jyväskylä he got back into the rhythm and moved up to twelfth. Iceman’s confidence was now at full boost, and he upped the pace even further in the home stretch by overtaking his nearest rivals and finished in ninth place.
“These roads are as quick and as difficult as ever,” underlined the Finnish driver. But we still managed to set good times. I’d like to thank the many spectators who cheered us on during the weekend. We were able to maintain a good pace throughout the whole rally despite a few minor mistakes. It’s encouraging for the rest of the season.”
With both Citroën DS3 WRCs at the finish, Benoit Nogier, the Citroën Racing Technologies team manager, was pretty satisfied with the team’s overall performance in Rally Finland: “Kimi’s made a lot of progress since last season. He’s showing promising steadiness and he’s on the right track. Above all, he’s now getting used to finishing the rallies in the points. It’s both satisfying and very encouraging.” […]
Da TS.fi, traduzione Google
La prestazione di Räikkönen elogiata dagli esperti
Räikkönen non è considerato una persona mattiniera ma questa volta è partito velocemente sia il venerdì mattina, sia in particolar modo, il sabato.
Nella SS17 la sua Citroen ha colpito una roccia poi ha toccato con il posteriore contro degli alberi.
- “Il paraurti davanti si è staccato e l’aria si infilava sotto. Quando andavo un po’ più veloce, l’anteriore iniziava ad andare da tutte le parti e non stava più in pista. Non c’era ragione di andare veloci quando l’anteriore scivolava in tutte le direzioni”, ha detto Räikkönen.
Comunque la prestazione è stata notevole. L’apprezzamento nei confronti di Räikkönen è aumentato tra gli esperti.
- “Certamente da spettatore finlandese preferirei vedere Kimi continuare a vincere in F1, ma ora le cose stanno così. Kimi è nella posizione di poter guidare ciò che vuole. Lui vuole guidare i rally e tutti conoscono che controllo della macchina ha il ragazzo. Lui migliorerà come pilota di rally quando imparerà come fare le note e ad estrarre da esse il massimo delle informazioni”, pensa Lasse Lampi.
- “Non ci si dovrebbe limitare ad osservare e a dire, ‘oh, Kimi è di nuovo ottavo’. Io osservo la guida di Kimi in modo completamente diverso e penso che la sua prestazione sia stata migliore di quanto mi aspettassi”, dice Rauno Aaltonen.
- “Kimi dimostra di avere un buon controllo di nervi e di mente quando è in pista. I rally a questo livello sono comunque una battaglia e quando sei al limite, la probabilità di errore diventa sempre maggiore. Tanto di cappello per Kimi”.
Aaltonen si chiedeva anche del perchè della dichiarazione di Olivier Quesnel apparsa nel web, a proposito della sua delusione sul ritmo di Kimi.
- “Penso che sia stata una valutazione ingiusta. Bisogna capire che le persone guidano su diversi percorsi con diverse velocità. Un essere umano non è una macchina. Alcuni vanno meglio sulle strade veloci, altri danno il loro meglio su strade tortuose. Dipende completamente dalla macchina, dai muscoli e dal modo in cui uno pensa a dove guardare”, dice Aaltonen.
Nogier expects Räikkönen to show more Finland pace
Citroen Racing Technologies boss Benoit Nogier expects Kimi Raikkonen to be closer to the leading pace on Rally Finland next week. Finn Raikkonen is in his second season with the French team under Nogier’s stewardship and will tackle his home round of the world championship for the third time at the wheel of a Citroen DS3 WRC. “Kimi loves his country and his rally,” said Nogier. “He really enjoyed his two-day test and he got the car to handle to his liking. He has a logical approach. He was his usual self, did not get excited and kept his unflappable calm. The road show will help him to immerse himself in the ambiance of the rally. We hope he’ll drive a consistent race and close the gap to the frontrunners.” Before Rally Finland gets underway in Jyvaskyla on July 28, Raikkonen and Citroen team leader Sebastien Loeb will take part in the Red Bull Road Show event in the Finnish capital Helsinki tomorrow (Sunday).
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."