Lotus quietly confident about 2012 car
After step noses and clever exhausts, the latest buzzword in the Jerez paddock is ‘Lotus’.
“I am one of the happiest guys in the world right now,” said Romain Grosjean on Thursday after easily outpacing Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.
The reigning GP2 champion was also quicker than the 2012 McLaren, steered for the first time on Thursday by Lewis Hamilton.
Drawing conclusions based on test results is an unreliable practice, but the body language in the Lotus garage so far is confident.
“For the first test it looks good,” team boss Eric Boullier admitted to Finnish broadcaster MTV3, “but still you can’t really speculate on anything.
“Between here and Melbourne, all the cars will change a lot.
“It is true that today we have a good car, we are able to drive a lot of laps and that is why we are at the front,” he added.
After watching the action trackside from a corner, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg told Auto Motor und Sport that the E20 is “a missile with an incredible amount of grip”.
“The Red Bull and the Lotus make the best impression,” agreed 1982 world champion Keke Rosberg, who is also at Jerez.
Hamilton described Grosjean’s best time – 1.18.4 – as “good”, while Red Bull’s Webber wanted to know what compound of Pirelli tyre was fitted to the Lotus.
Told it was the medium, the Australian admitted: “Then it was a very good lap.”
Grosjean smiled: “The car is easy to drive and predictable everywhere, especially in the fast corners, and when you go over the limit it is easy to get back.”
Said Webber: “If Grosjean can do those laptimes then we will all have to watch Kimi (Raikkonen).”
Alonso is Already Expecting the Battles with Raikkonen
Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso is already waiting to face Kimi Raikkonen on track.
– "I’m happy that Kimi has returned because he’s a spectacular driver and a great personality. It will good to battle with him again. To get him back on the starting grid is good for the sport, the fans, us drivers, the teams and sponsors. I only see good aspects in it but it remains to be seen how fast his car is", Alonso said to MTV3 on the eve of the last test day in Jerez.
Kimi Raikkonen is adamant Lotus can build a winning F1 car
Kimi Raikkonen is adamant Lotus is capable of building a winning car, as the team unveiled its 2012 challenger to the public on Sunday.
The Finn, the 2007 world champion with Ferrari, is returning to grand prix racing with Lotus after having left the sport at the end of 2009 to compete in the World Rally Championship.
Lotus, racing under the Renault name until last year, won its last race in the 2008 season with Fernando Alonso and has struggled to be competitive since.
Raikkonen is confident, however, that the team has what it takes to return to winning ways.
"I think these people know how to build a good car, and even the biggest teams cannot produce a winning car every year," said Raikkonen during the launch of the E20.
"They are very capable people and they have a good feeling about things and they’re pushing hard so hopefully we will get good results."
The former world champion said he is not nervous about his return to racing despite an absence of over two years.
"Not really," said Raikkonen, who drove a two-year-old car last month in preparation for his return. "It will be something slightly different to what it used to be when I was in Formula 1 before – with a different team and different regulations, but everybody’s different. For some people it’s more difficult to get used to new stuff.
"And it depends a lot on the car – if you have a good car it makes your life easier than if you have an average car. I was pretty happy after the first test we did two weeks ago. It felt pretty normal already.
"I think it will be okay but before the first race it’s really difficult to say still. We’ll wait and see but I’m happy with how everything is going."
Raikkonen will be partnered by GP2 champion Romain Grosjean, who is making a comeback to Formula 1 after a short stint with the team in 2009.
The Frenchman says he is feeling upbeat ahead of his first full season with the team.
"2011 was a fantastic season for myself with the GP2 title and the Friday morning in the car and all the time at the track with the team as the third driver," Grosjean said. "I’m feeling quite good for the season. I’m very proud to be chosen as one of the drivers.
"So far I’ve a little bit more knowledge about the Pirelli tyres but I think I will be able to get a lot from him. We need to work to bring the team as far forward as possible, which is our main goal. I’m very happy to be alongside him.
"We are all expecting a lot from this year. I’ve seen the car almost from the beginning to the end of the building, and we’re all expectant to see the car on track and after the first four days of testing we will have a good idea of how the season will be."
Lotus co-owner Gerard Lopez says fourth in championship is realistic 2012 goal
Lotus team co-owner Gerard Lopez believes getting back into the top four in the Formula 1 constructors’ championship is a realistic initial step for the squad in 2012.
The Enstone-based team was fifth in the standings for the past two years under its former Renault guise, having slumped to eighth in 2009. Prior to that, it had been in the top four for seven straight seasons, winning the ’05 and ’06 titles.
The team had high hopes for last year, but its radical exhaust concept did not work and lead driver Robert Kubica suffered horrific injuries in a pre-season rally crash.
Lopez said he hoped the team could make up for the false start of 2011 and start making progress with the E20, which will be driven by F1 returnees Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean.
"The hopes are to be able to get one season together and do what we were expecting last year," he said.
"We hope to have a strong car, and have strong drivers, one of which is of course an ex-world champion. We hope to bring the car up to the front of the pack and probably try to aim for fourth as a reasonable goal for this season."
The car is the first from the Enstone team to bear the full Lotus name after the end of the dispute over the use of the brand in F1.
"We’re obviously extremely proud that finally the Lotus name is a clear concept for everybody in Formula 1 now," Lopez added.
A word that has not frequently been used to describe Kimi’s appearances in press conferences, interviews, etc.
The Finn has won the Belgian Grand Prix more than any other race – with a total of four victories from his last five visits to the ultimate driver’s circuit, Spa.
Kimi made his F1 bow testing a Sauber in 2000 at Italy’s Mugello circuit. The only other driver on track, Michael Schumacher, saw enough to correctly declare him a future champion (see O).
On 31 July 2004 Kimi Matias Raikkonen married Jenni Dahlman, a Finnish model and former Miss Scandinavia.
Kimi has a total of 18 grand prix victories from his Formula 1 career so far. The first came at Sepang in 2003, the most recent at Spa in 2009 (see L).
Kimi has an enviable total of 35 fastest laps, which places him third on the all-time list behind only Michael Schumacher (76) and Alain Prost (41).
after two seasons in the WRC, Kimi’s going to need to work on his neck to withstand F1’s cornering forces.
Home of Kimi’s first Formula 1 team, Sauber.
The Finn has the word Iceman emblazoned on his crash helmet. He’s cool, you see…
Another F1 world champion who has apparently offered Kimi both inspiration and a pseudonym for races in both snowmobiles and powerboats.
Kimi owned his first kart when he was eight years old. He started competing in 1988 and went on to take the Nordic Championship a decade later.
The Finn produced perhaps his greatest victory at Suzuka in 2005 from 17th on the grid, storming through the field to pass Giancarlo Fisichella on lap 53 of 53.
Kimi founded his own Motocross World Championship team, Ice 1 Racing.
Kimi has also ventured into racing in the United States, making his debut in the Camping World Truck Series last year (see X).
This was the margin by which Kimi took the 2007 F1 world championship ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.
Kimi has taken a total of 16 F1 pole positions, the latest at Magny-Cours in 2008.
Anything HRH can do… In 2008 Kimi appeared on a set of Finnish postage stamps.
Most of Kimi’s pre-F1 experience came in Formula Renault. He won the 2000 title with seven wins and ten podiums from ten races.
The Iceman is fond of anything freezing and white – with snowmobiles, snowboards and ice hockey among his favourite pastimes.
Kimi famously only had a total of 23 car races in his life before he made his F1. He won 13 of them…
No-one else dresses quite like Kimi in F1.
Winning the 2007 World Championship.
Kimi has a total of 59 points from his time in the World Rally Championship. He also has a stage victory to his name from the 2010 Rallye Deutschland.
We learned from Kimi’s NASCAR pit-to-car radio conversations that we should make sure he has enough in his drinks bottle…
Kimi is a big fan of yachting.
At his first F1 race at Melbourne in 2001, Kimi surprised all by being cool enough to have a nap half an hour before going to the grid. He went on to score a point for 6th place and the Iceman was born.
Kimi Räikkönen’s Q&A
I think we’ll have a lot of fun in the season ahead and hopefully we will get some good results. I want a strong enough car to challenge for good results.
The 2007 Formula 1 World champion talks of his return to the sport with the lotus F1 Team after two years away in the forests and stages of the World Rally championship
Formula 1 is something very special in my racing career, and you always want to race at the toughest level, so Formula 1 is where you want to race if you have a choice.
What do you think of the team now you’ve completed two days testing?
I’m happy with the team, they are very nice people, very easy going and it was nice to work with them for the two days I did in the R30. I think we’ll have a lot of fun in the season ahead and hopefully we will get some good results. I want a strong enough car to challenge for good results.
When did you decide to finish rallying and to go back to Formula 1?
When I did the NASCAR races, I enjoyed the racing and I want to do more racing. I still want to do rally and if I could I’d do them both at the same time – but this isn’t possible. For sure I will do rallying again in the future. I want to do racing as I had a really good time in NASCAR racing against other people and I realised that I was missing this – that’s when I decided that if there was a good chance to return properly that I would do it.
What are your thoughts on how F1 has changed since you last competed?
In 2010 I didn’t really follow Formula 1 but I saw more races last year. It doesn’t really look different, but there is overtaking in some different places where people can just drive past by opening the rear wing and the driver in front has no chance to defend himself – so is this really overtaking? I don’t think it counts all the time. But for sure the show is better. The tyres make a difference too, as there is a big speed difference between when the tyres are new and when the tyres are old. In the old Formula 1, you had to be so much faster than the guy in front of you to have any chance to overtake, but now with the tyres and the DRS, it’s different.
Do you have anything to prove with your return?
I think people expect things from me, but as long as I know that I’m giving 100% and I’m happy with my driving then I’m happy. If those aspects are true and it’s not enough, then it’s not enough.
How well do you know your new team-mate, Romain Grosjean?
I think we will have a good relationship. I met him before Christmas and I raced against him in 2009. He seems a very nice and normal guy, so I don’t see any problems there.
Da Autosprint n.5 del 31/01/2012
Altre foto: twitter.com/#!/Lotus_F1Team
Da Iltalehti 27.1.2012 (paper edition), traduzione Wolfie@ f1coffee.phpbb.fi
Wild and free
Kimi Räikkönen won’t ask for permission to drink alcohol
1. Kimi, what’s on your mind?
– Nothing. Ask something for God’s sake since you have come all the way here.
2. What do you expect from the next tests?
– Difficult to say. We’ll see then what the new car is like. I don’t think that it’s terribly different. I don’t know about the tyres. They say that they have changed a bit.
3. What kind of season would you yourself be satisfied with?
– I haven’t really thought anything concrete. I see in the tests what the car is like and how good it is. That decides. How it feels, that’s a thing you notice right from the first test. At least I have noticed it immediately earlier.
4. You are used to really big teams during your F1-career. Does it show in the operation of Lotus that it’s slightly smaller than McLaren and Ferrari?
– No, it’s just the same. We have all the same equipment here and hence we also have a chance to make a good car. The same gang who earlier won championships is still here. And physically the team is located in the same place. Maybe it’s smaller in the sense that Lotus doesn’t have a car factory behind them like Mercedes or Ferrari had.
5. During the last months a few motorbikers have passed away due to an accident. Does a professional driver think more about the sport’s dangers and risks when hearing these kinds of news?
– Those are never nice news no matter if you know them or not or if they even are from your own genre’s circle. Those just happen. Sadly it’s part of many other sports too. Of course anything can happen and happens. Sad things but part of life.
6. You have already won your WDC in Ferrari. From where do you get motivation to continue?
– I have never had any problems with motivation, although everybody always colors things. I have always liked to race. Back in the time there were quite many factors why I started to rally. Now I got a reasonably good chance to drive in F1. I get to race against others again. I guess that’s the biggest reason.
7. You have always been an excellent track-racer, but your attitude towards the media has been a bit questionable. On the scale from 1 to 10, how much do you hate these kinds of media-days?
– I don’t hate them but they always ask the same questions. They won’t change to anything else. If I could decide I wouldn’t come here. It’s definitely not the first thing that comes to my mind when waking up or something that I would be excited over. But I think it’s the same for everyone else too. They probably would rather drive than do other things. If someone claims that they like these things, then I guess he is lying. Of course driving is always the number one thing. I don’t have anything against these. Maybe they have made the matter a bit too big.
8. Has Jenni already healed from her riding accident?
– She is better now. She is still in pain but that’s normal. It wasn’t any serious matter.
9. You have probably without any cause been in the publicity because of alcohol. What is your relation to alcohol now?
– It’s just the same as it was before. If I want to go out and have fun, I go. I don’t have any problem with it. Nobody forbids me and I don’t have to ask anyone for permission.
10. Do you think that you have changed during the years?
– I’m sure every person changes, but I don’t think anything bigger has happened in me.
11. In public there is also the understanding that this Lotus-deal would only be a step to Red Bull in either 2013 or 2014. Is it correct?
– I don’t have any plans. Lets see how this goes. In F1 everything can change reasonably fast. I hope that we can have fun with the team. At least I have had fun so far.
12. Do you have a two-year deal?
– Yeah, in principle.