Quando Raikkonen mandò quasi in bancarotta la Lotus
Dopo aver abbandonato la Formula 1 alla fine del 2009 per dedicarsi al mondiale rally e a qualche gara in Nascar, nel 2012 Kimi Raikkonen decise a sorpresa di tornare al volante delle monoposto più veloci del mondo, firmando un contratto con la Lotus. Il team, pur avendo ereditato il nome, non aveva pressoché nulla a che fare con la storica scuderia di Colin Chapman. Era invece la prosecuzione del team Renault, dopo che questo si era disimpegnato dal Circus come costruttore ufficiale. Il biennio 2012-2013 fu straordinario per Raikkonen, che conquistò due vittorie, 15 podi e 390 punti con il team di Enstone. Il campione del mondo 2007 fu, numeri alla mano, il terzo miglior pilota di quelle due stagioni, dopo Sebastian Vettel e Fernando Alonso.
Le grandi annate che precedettero il ritorno di Raikkonen in Ferrari però, rappresentarono paradossalmente per la Lotus un grosso problema finanziario. A raccontarlo al sito ufficiale della F1 è stato un giornalista finlandese, Heikki Kulta, che ha seguito nel corso degli anni la carriera di Iceman: “Ho sentito parlare per la prima volta dei piani di rientro in Formula 1 di Raikkonen al GP di Germania nel 2011 – ha scritto – all’epoca, erano in corso trattative con Williams, ma più tardi quell’autunno è emerso che aveva stretto un accordo con la Lotus”. Nessuno però, probabilmente neanche nel team inglese, si aspettava che dopo un breve periodo di adattamento Raikkonen rendesse la squadra una costante presenza sul podio.
“È stato sorprendente vedere quanto velocemente fosse in grado di adattarsi dopo tutto quel tempo – ha raccontato Kulta – alla quarta gara del 2012, in Bahrain, è arrivato secondo. Poi ci fu la vittoria di Abu Dhabi, il 4 novembre, che è stata qualcosa che rimarrà con me per sempre. Raikkonen ha conquistato 390 punti in due anni con Lotus. Il capo della squadra, Gerard Lopez, non si aspettava certo un simile risultato e l’accordo che aveva fattodi pagare 50.000 Euro a punto a Kimi portò quasi al fallimento la squadra. Il solo bonus per i punti ha garantito a Raikkonen 19.5 milioni di Euro” ha spigato il reporter finlandese.
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.”
2014 F1 cars ‘don’t suit’ Kimi Raikkonen – Romain Grosjean
Romain Grosjean believes his former Lotus team-mate Kimi Raikkonen is struggling in Formula 1 this year because the cars do not suit his driving style.
Grosjean and Raikkonen were team-mates at Lotus for two years before Raikkonen joined Fernando Alonso at Ferrari for this season.
Raikkonen has endured a difficult start to his second spell at the Scuderia, and languishes 12th in the points having failed to finish ahead of Alonso across the first 11 races of 2014.
Grosjean has been team-mate to both Ferrari drivers and he reckons 2007 world champion Raikkonen is suffering more than most from changes to F1 cars brought about by the radical shift in regulations for this year.
"I know what he doesn’t like and I think this year’s cars don’t suit him very well," Grosjean said.
"He needs a good front-end and that car doesn’t give this feeling.
"It’s hard to explain, but it can change your confidence."
Grosjean was also briefly a team-mate to Alonso when he made his F1 debut with Renault in 2009 – the season before the double world champion moved to Ferrari.
The Franco-Swiss driver says he did not know before the start of this campaign which of the two would be stronger at Maranello.
"I think they are both very strong," Grosjean added.
"When I was with Fernando I was inexperienced and the car wasn’t the best.
"He could always get on top of what he had and get 100 per cent from the car, even though he had to drive three different styles in the lap, which is very good.
"Kimi was quick, consistent, and capable of building his weekend as well.
"It was nice for me to have him on board, even if the chat wasn’t very big!
"They were different, [but] I was in different stages of my career [with each one].
"To be fair, at the beginning of this year I didn’t know which one was going to be the best. To me, they are both very strong."
Lopez: “Sorpreso dalle difficoltà di Raikkonen”
23 aprile 2014 – Due stagioni eccellenti in Lotus, per quanto tormentate da una difficile gestione “economica”, hanno riportato Raikkonen a Maranello. Il 2014, però, è partito con il piede sbagliato e il finlandese sembra un lontano parente del pilota capace di lottare con la E21 nelle posizioni di alta classifica. Qualche intoppo meccanico di troppo e una mancanza di feeling con la F14 sono alla base di prestazioni insufficienti e non paragonabili a quelle di Fernando Alonso e chi si aspettava una lotta serrata tra i due deve per ora cambiare canale e sintonizzarsi sui confronti interni in casa Red Bull o Mercedes.
Gerard Lopez, proprietario della Lotus, che già avrebbe di che guardare a sufficienza tra le sue mura a Esntone, ammette di essere rimasto sorpreso dalle difficoltà incontrate da Kimi in questo 2014: “Da noi era un pilota forte, quindi il gap (da Alonso, ndr) è un po’ sorprendente”, ha dichiarato ad Auto Motor und Sport. “Ma so anche quanto è bravo Fernando, immaginiamo solo che avrebbe fatto se avesse avuto una Red Bull negli ultimi anni. Ma sappiamo anche quanto sia bravo Kimi”.
Secondo Lopez, il poco felice impatto con la stagione potrebbe dipendere da ragioni, per così dire, ambientali: “È una nuova squadra e con Kimi molto dipende da quello che succede intorno a lui”, spiega infatti Lopez. “Con noi era sempre completamente a suo agio”, aggiunge quasi dimentico di come sia finito il rapporto tra Raikkonen e la Lotus, “anche se ovviamente non posso sapere esattamente perché le cose non gli stanno andando bene”.
Hakkinen: “Alonso sta dominando Raikkonen”
Mika Hakkinen, alla luce dei risultati delle prime quattro prove del Mondiale 2014, è concretamente convinto che Fernando Alonso stia demolendo Kimi Raikkonen.
Il confronto tra Kimi Raikkonen e Fernando Alonso, per il momento, vede nettamente il pilota spagnolo davanti al finnico. A conferma di ciò, oltre ai numeri, arrivano anche le dichiarazioni di Mika Hakkinen, il quale pensa che il suo connazionale sia stato dominato dal pilota di Oviedo.
“Kimi ha dei problemi, ed è nell’interesse di tutti risolverli.” commenta Mika. “Alonso sta letteralmente dominando Raikkonen, tra i due non è poca la differenza. Dopo quattro gare, Kimi ha bisogno di fare il massimo, anche perché la vettura non può essere così terribile da impedirgli di gareggiare con Fernando. Deve migliorare, e deve farlo alla svelta.”
Per Hakkinen, il Campione del Mondo 2007 dovrebbe passare più tempo al simulatore, ma la scelta finale spetta comunque a lui. “Il simulatore è una valida alternativa, perché consente di testare i vari assetti. Lungi da me dare qualche consiglio a Kimi, perché sono convinto che un Campione del Mondo sappia come risolvere i problemi per battere il proprio compagno di scuderia e per raggiungere una posizione decente in campionato.”
Smedley va alla Williams
Ecco un po’ di informazioni sparse e sperse.
1) Rob Smedley, già ingegnere di pista di Massa, lascia la Ferrari.
2) E dove va? Alla Williams.
3) L’ingegnere di pista di Kimi Raikkonen sarà un italiano.
4) A questo italiano, del quale taccio il nome, piace la vodka.
5) La regola sul peso macchina più piloti non verrà cambiata, perchè per cambiarla ci vorrebe l’unanimità dei team e la unanimità non c’è.
6) Kimi si è perfettamente ripreso dopo l’operazione. La settimana prossima, comunque prima di Natale, sarà di nuovo a Maranello.
7) C’è stato un incontro a quattr’occhi tra il Biondino e Alonso. In verità gli occhi erano sei. L’incontro è andato molto bene.
8) Sulla faccenda del Briscolone applicato al Gp finale, potrebbe esserci un ripensamento in extremis. La Ferrari e la Red Bull si sono dette contrarie, ma gli sponsor, le televisioni (non tutte) e Ecclestone (ovviamente) spingono moltissimo.
9) In alternativa al briscolone, c’è stato chi ha proposto (e a me non dispiacerebbe) di attribuire un punteggio particolare, cioè aumentato, alle Grandi Classiche della F1: Montecarlo, Spa, Monza, Suzuka. Ne avevo anche parlato da qualche parlato: sarebbe, almeno, più logico.
10) La Lotus è alla canna del gas (finanziaria): Raikkonen non ha ancora visto un euro, non un dollaro, non uno yen.
Pagellone2013, perchè 8 a Kimi
Quando Kimi Raikkonen decise di rientrare in Formula Uno, alla fine del 2011, disse ad uno che io conosco bene: il mio obiettivo è convincere la Ferrari a riprendermi.
Come sia andata la storia, oggi ognuno sa.
Nel giudicare, spagellando, il 2013 del Biondino, beh, io mi vedo costretto ad una serie di elucubrate riflessioni, precisazioni, valutazioni.
1) Non stava scritto da nessuna parte che la Lotus si sarebbe dimostrata competitiva ad un livello decente, considerati i cronici gap finanziari del team.
2) Se la memoria non mi fa difetto, nell’arco della stagione soltanto una volta Vettel non è stato leader del mondiale e quella volta al top c’era il Santo Bevitore.
3) Escludendo le ultime tre gare (Abu Dhabi non conta, per ovvi motivi), Raikkonen è stato sempre in lizza per il secondo posto nella classifica iridata, pur non disponendo di una struttura, alle spalle, paragonabile a quelle di Red Bull o Ferrari o Mercedes.
4) Certamente Grosjean è un manico interessante e di prospettiva, dunque se per due anni fa coppia con Kimi e ottiene risultati decisamente inferiori, insomma, chi vuol vedere vede, chi non vuol vedere è cieco.
5) Non credo che Luca Cordero di Montezemolo sia un babbeo. Se, rivedendo opinioni e scelte di un recente passato, LCDM è arrivato a paragonare il Kimi-bis al come back di Niki Lauda negli anni Ottanta, uhm, forse conviene prenderne atto.
6) Non credo che Fernando Alonso non sia in grado di giudicare i colleghi. Se ha reagito come ha reagito (vedi rassegna stampa degli ultimi cento giorni) al ritorno del Biondino a Maranello, ecco, qualcosa vorrà pur dire.
7) Voto alla stagione di Kimi : 8 tondo.
8) Dopo di che, poichè ‘cca nisciuno è fesso, se la R0ssa 2014 va in retromarcia, beh, nessuno potrà mettere in discussione le cose che ho scritto sopra. Non è che Schumi, nel 2005, fosse diventato un ferro da stiro perchè la Ferrari non andava…
Da Autosprint n.48 del 03/12/2013
Sempre da Autosprint:
Rain and Samba
I counted that I have followed the Brasilian Grand Prix -races from the paddock for 15 times already. While writing this, it rains outside once again.
I have a lot of good Finnish memories from Brazil.
The only time when Mika Häkkinen won three races in a row was in Brazil 1998.
Häkkinen wiped his nose in Finland’s flag and it was, to some, seen as almost a sacrilege.
The most memorable day on the Interlagos track was, of course, 21.10.2007. There, Kimi scored one point more than Lewis Hamilton and incredibly, won the WDC that year.
I was the only reporter invited to Ferrari’s championship party. There, we danced the Samba so much that I will probably remember it for the rest of my life.
This weekend Räikkönen is only a memory at the F1-paddock. Of course, they wish Kimi would be back soon. People from both Lotus and Ferrari have every now and then asked me how Kimi is doing.
Everything is good, his spirit is high, but the final inspection by his doctor will tell when Räikkönen can start training flat out again. According to an expert, it should be possible for Kimi to start training five weeks after the surgery.
Turun Sanomat, Sao Paulo
Kimi Räikkönen and Minttu: Shouting argument!
Kimi Räikkönen and Minttu Virtanen got into a shouting argument. The dispute started when the duo was out celebrating her birthday in VIP-restaurant Teatteri last Saturday 16.11.2013.
– It was Minttu’s birthday and the gang was there celebrating it, Seiska was told.
In the middle of the night Kimi and Minttu got into an argument.
– The argument escalated into shouting, because of which Kimi decided to leave the restaurant. In the end Minttu stayed there celebrating her birthday without Kimi.
Kimi was in a back surgery last Thursday and according to Lotus the surgery went well.
Finlandia, nuova Mecca della F1
Narra la leggenda che Kimi Raikkonen, una volta smaltiti i fumi della anestesia nella clinica di Salisburgo, abbia subito chiesto una cosa: e come sta il mio amichetto Fernando?
Il Pagellone del Texas
VALSECCHI, 10. Per lo stoicismo mostrato restando impassibile all’interno del box Lotus. Poi, se volete, twittate a quelli della Lotus, so che Panorama ha simpaticamente promosso un hashtag o come cavolo lo chiamate, una roba tipo valsecchiforbrazil ma digitalmente sono un bradipo, se vi interessa attivatevi.
LOTUS, 2. Ma insomma. Non avendo soldi, hanno fatto e fanno miracoli (vedi secondo posto di Grosjean, voto 9). Appunto per questo, uno ci resta male. Non credo che Kovalainen abbia svaligiato Fort Knox. Trattasi di decisione umanamente sbagliatissima e sul piano del risultato evitabilissima. Poi mi dicono che al posto di Hulk si pigliano Maldonado. Boh, mi fa piacere, magari Pastor nel 2014 vince il titolo e io mi pento.
KIMI, 10. Si va ad Interlagos. Mi ricordo il 2007 e va mo là che quella cosa non è più successa e, con buona pace dei livorosi, sta diventando una sorta di favola che i ferraristi si raccontano al bar o in salotto. Ce l’hai in mente, quella volta in Brasile? E ce l’ho in mente sì.
The Judgement Day I have experienced a lot during my days in Formula One. But the surprise we got in Abu Dhabi after the good qualifying session was a very new happening to me. We had the car to go well in one lap, as well as to have a good race speed. I was not able to get a 100% lap in qualifying, but it was good enough to put us in P5 on the grid. I was pretty happy with it untill we found out, there is going to be a penalty for us. There was a heavy shunt to the floor while we went over the kerb in the first run. There was no way to avoid the crash, but we never ever expected it to cause the misery for the race, as well. The stewards ruled us out of the results. Then we had to start from the back of the grid. In a place like Abu Dhabi, it means it was a very, very tricky race to try to come back in a points winning position. We had to start from the grid, as it was the supposed to be the quickest way to recover some positions. Obviously, it didn¹t work out. After the start I went for the inside line, then we touched with the Caterham. It was just a light touch, but hard to enough to break the steering column. That¹s about it from the last two races. We have had some luck many times during these two seasons, but in Abu Dhabi I felt like all the luck had gone and everything went against us. But this is motor racing. You have to be prepared to accept everything is possible!
Raikkonen: “Troppo dolore anche solo per entrare in macchina”
11 novembre 2013 – Ieri Steve Robertson, manager di Kimi Raikkonen, aveva annunciato al mondo che il suo pilota avrebbe saltato le ultime due gare della stagione per operarsi alla schiena giovedì prossimo a Salisburgo. Oggi è arrivato il commento, sempre dalle colonne del giornale finlandese Turun Sanomat, dello stesso pilota.
Niente Austin e niente Interlagos per Kimi, e questo oltre ad aprire uno spiraglio per Davide Valsecchi, ha soprattutto avuto la conseguenza di scatenare le dietrologie sul perché e sulle tempistiche dell’annuncio.
Veramente Kimi sta così male da non poter correre le ultime due gare oppure si tratta di una exit-strategy dal team Lotus, unendo l’utile al desiderato?
Ad accrescere i dubbi poi c’è il fatto che tutto si è verificato con un tempismo sospetto, ossia il giorno seguente alla visita di Kimi Raikkonen a Maranello per la prova sedile della sua monoposto 2014. Aggiungiamoci che precedentemente il finlandese aveva paventato l’ipotesi di non terminare la stagione perché “deluso” dal comportamento del team.
In ogni caso oggi ci ha pensato lo stesso Kimi ha rilasciare oggi una dichiarazione per tentare di fugare ogni dubbio: “Avrei guidato volentieri, ma semplicemente mi fa troppo male la schiena, non riesco neanche a pensare di potermi calare in un abitacolo“.
Il manager Steve Robertson ha aggiunto: “Il dolore di questi ultimi giorni è stato così intenso che Kimi non riusciva a dormire se non con gli antidolorifici“.
Kimi Raikkonen to miss rest of 2013 F1 season for back surgery
Kimi Raikkonen is to miss the final two races of the 2013 Formula 1 season after electing to undergo back surgery next week.
The Finn had been at the centre of a pay dispute with his Lotus bosses in Abu Dhabi last weekend, but it appeared that matters had been sorted so he could compete in the United States and Brazil.
However, in a fresh twist, the back issues that nearly forced Raikkonen out of the Singapore Grand Prix earlier this year flared up enough for him to choose to take early surgery.
Rather than travel to the United States for the final events of the season, Raikkonen will now fly to Salzburg for the operation.
His manager Steve Robertson confirmed to AUTOSPORT that Raikkonen’s 2013 campaign was over, as it is estimated that there is a four-week recovery period.
The news was first broken in Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat.
Had Raikkonen waited until after the season, then there was a chance that it could have impacted on his preparations for 2014 with Ferrari.
Robertson told AUTOSPORT: "In an ideal world it would have been nice to finish the season with Lotus in the final two grands prix.
"However, due to the severe pain that Kimi is having, sadly it is not possible."
It is unclear how Raikkonen’s absence will impact on his pay issues with Lotus, especially with the team’s new investor Quantum Motorsports having not yet finalised its 35 per cent buy-in to the outfit.
Lotus now has just a few days to decide on a replacement driver. It could decide to promote reserve driver Davide Valsecchi to the race seat or swoop for another available driver.
The backsurgery ends up Kimi’s season
The Formula One season of Kimi Raikkonen is over!
The Finnish star of Lotus F1 Team – keeping third position in the drivers’ championship with 183 points – will go through a backsurgery on next Thursday, and because of that cannot race in the two last Grands Prix of USA and Brazil.
Raikkonen has had problems with his back for a long time. During the practise in Singapore in September the pain got so bad, that Kimi would not have been able to participate the qualifying and the race without a cortisone injection.
Now after the race in Abu Dhabi a week ago Kimi’s back has been even worse. He has not been able to sleep properly without painkillers.
– The experts were recommending the surgery, and it will be done next Thursday in Salzburg, Steve Robertson, the manager of Raikkonen, breaks the news to Turun Sanomat.
After the operation Kimi is cannot do anything for four weeks. This means the current season stops here.
– Obviously, it is a disappointing way to end the relationship with Lotus after two successful seasons on Kimi’s return to F1. However, Kimi cannot afford to delay anymore. It is crucial to correct the problem now to start 2014 fit and healthy, Robertson points out.
Most likely the car number 7 will be driven in Austin by Davide Valsecchi, the Lotus test and reserve driver. Valsecchi has tested the E21 car for two days in Barcelona and Silverstone. If Valsecchi gets the drive, he will be the first Italian to race in a Grand Prix since Jarno Trulli in 2011.
Kimi Räikkönen will undergo back surgery this coming week, the consequent four weeks recovery time forcing him to miss the forthcoming United States and Brazilian Grands Prix.
Kimi suffered from issues with his back earlier this year at the Singapore Grand Prix and a reoccurrence of this problem has forced him to have surgery now to help prevent ongoing problems in the future, and to ensure he is at full fitness for the 2014 season.
Kimi and his management are saddened that Kimi will not be able to complete the 2013 season with Lotus F1 Team where he was fighting for third position in the Drivers’ Championship. They would also like to thank all fans for the thousands of kind messages received since the news has emerged.
Kimi Räikkönen’s Management Team
Lotus insists focus is now on track after Raikkonen financial dispute
Lotus says its pay issues with Kimi Raikkonen have now been put on the back burner, so both can focus on delivering a strong end to the campaign.
Raikkonen had threatened to not see out the season with Lotus after frustrations at not receiving his salary boiled over following the Indian Grand Prix.
But following a series of talks in Abu Dhabi last weekend, a deal was reached for Raikkonen to agree to race in Austin and Brazil.
Team principal Eric Boullier said on Friday that the pay dispute had been sorted as well as it could be for now – which meant that the team can get its attention back on racing.
"We all spoke in Abu Dhabi to make sure we know where we’re going – and how we’re getting there – for the final races of the year," said Boullier.
"Our focus is first on a good performance in Austin, and then the focus becomes getting a good result in Brazil."
Lotus’ hopes of an immediate settlement to the Raikkonen pay issue revolve on a deal with new investor Quantum Motorsports being completed.
It had been hoped that the transfer of money to Lotus would be completed earlier this week, but last-minute delays mean the matter has not yet been sorted.
However, sources are adamant it should be resolved imminently – which would be a huge boost to Lotus’ long-term financial situation.
Boullier admitted that he would have been happier if matters were already settled, but he has faith that efforts to complete the Quantum deal will come off.
"It’s no secret that there is a lot going on at Enstone at the moment, but we’re being kept busy putting everything in place to secure the team for the future," he explained.
"This isn’t the work of a moment and it certainly doesn’t move at the pace which most of us would want it to, but we keep pushing.
"Aside from everything behind the scenes, the main positive is that we continue to have a strong car on track and we aim to make the most of that in the remaining races of 2013."
Lotus has confirmed that, as revealed by AUTOSPORT, Raikkonen will continue to use the short wheelbase car for the United States Grand Prix.
Speaking about the decision, Raikkonen said: "It has a better feeling for me and seems to make it easier for me to get more of what I want from the car.
"We’ve been trying to get rid of understeer to get the car more as I want it and the shorter car helps with this."
Kimi Räikkönen Enticed by US Lifestyle
Kimi heads to Austin looking for a longer race than last time out, and expecting to enjoy some good ol’ fashioned American hospitality
What do you think of the Circuit of the Americas?
It’s a nice circuit. The layout is quite interesting and the racing last year was good. The sectors of the track are fairly different, so there’s a challenge there. Last year the days started out pretty cold so it was very slippery, but hopefully now it’s been used a bit more the track surface won’t be as shiny, so it should be easier to get the car as we want it.
You’ll be using the shorter wheelbase car again; why is this?
It has a better feeling for me and seems to make it easier for me to get more of what I want from the car. We’ve been trying to get rid of understeer to get the car more as I want it and the shorter car helps with this.
Any thoughts looking back at your race in Abu Dhabi?
It wasn’t the longest race I’ve been in; certainly not as good as my 2012 race there either. Obviously it wasn’t ideal, but that’s the way things go sometimes. We should have a much longer race in Austin.
What’s your previous experience of racing in the US?
I competed in seven Grands Prix at Indianapolis. Unfortunately the one time I felt I had a really strong car there it was 2005 when only six cars raced and I wasn’t one of them. I did get pole position in 2003, but none of the races there are ones I remember well. In 2011 I tried NASCAR. I did two races on the Charlotte oval and I really liked it a lot. That was probably the experience I needed to open my eyes for racing again. After that I really wanted to come back to Formula 1, while it was a tempting idea to do more NASCAR too.
How are you looking forward to racing in Austin again?
After going there for the first time last year – like everyone – I’m particularly looking forward to this one. I like the American atmosphere, it’s just a relaxed environment. They know how to have fun, and most of all they love racing.
What are your memories of last year’s race?
It was an okay day, but not a very easy one for us. I got a bad start and then I touched with another car on the first lap so I had a lot of work to do. We were using quite hard tyres for the race so it was difficult to get the performance you wanted from them; especially when it got cooler because of the clouds that day. Hopefully it’ll be clear skies this year.
Do you think a better performance is possible this year?
The car has been feeling pretty good and we’ve seen some good races this year. We won’t know how good it is in Austin until we’re out on track, but we’re certainly pushing for a good result.
Wurz: “Raikkonen corra le ultime due gare o rischia il tribunale”
Steve Robertson, dopo le tante critiche piovute su Kimi Raikkonen per l’addio alla Lotus e per la paventata assenza nelle ultime due gare, interviene sulla questione a MTV Sport. Interessanti anche i pareri di Eddie Jordan, Mika Salo e Alexander Wurz sulla vicenda.
“Kimi ha ragione, è onesto” – esordisce il manager britannico – “Stiamo cercando di risolvere i problemi economici e questa non è la condizione migliore per terminare una relazione“. Steve ha ribadito come Raikkonen non abbia ricevuto neanche un centesimo da inizio anno e continuato attaccando il Team Lotus.
“Kimi è offeso dai messaggi ricevuti via radio, è stato accusato di non giocare per la squadra ma se si guarda alla globalità della stagione, Kimi è un vero uomo squadra, il migliore giocatore di squadra che ci sia in Formula 1” – poi continua – “Ci hanno promesso alcune cose, se le manterranno Kimi correrà le ultime due gare della stagione, altrimenti niente Austin e Interlagos“.
Il parere del paddock è diviso sulla faccenda: Eddie Jordan ha dichiarato: “Certo che si deve pagare Kimi, se accadesse a ognuno di noi non faticheremo a rendere pubblica la notizia, lui ha aspettato di essere infangato per farlo. Sto dalla sua parte al 100%“.
Mika Salo invece, connazionale di Kimi, ha affermato: “Ho passato situazioni del genere sia in Formula 1 che in Formula 3000 e mai mi è passato per la testa di non completare tutta la stagione“.
Interessante la posizione di Alexander Wurz, ex pilota, sulla faccenda: “Capisco come si senta Kimi, ma dovrebbe evitare di andare in tribunale. Ora ha il coltello dalla parte del manico, se non corresse le ultime gare la Lotus potrebbe citarlo per inadempienza contrattuale. Se invece farà buon viso a cattivo gioco non correrà rischi“.
Danner: “Raikkonen sta già rimpiangendo il ritorno alla Ferrari”
Kimi Raikkonen potrebbe già essere pentito del suo ritorno alla Ferrari. Questa in sintesi è l’opinione dell’ex pilota e oggi commentatore televisivo Christian Danner, secondo il quale, il finnico semplicemente non è seccato solo per i suoi attuali problemi con la Lotus, ma anche in prospettiva futura per aver scelto di approdare nuovamente alla corte di Maranello.
“Kimi è infastidito dal fatto che il suo manager lo abbia riportato alla Ferrari” – ha dichiarato Danner al giornale tedesco Bild – “Vede che Alonso in questo momento sta guidando al massimo senza ottenere un granché ed è molto lontano dalla vittoria”. Inoltre, l’ex pilota tedesco pensa che Kimi non stia affatto scalpitando in attesa del suo trasferimento in rosso – “La Lotus gli ha dato tutta la libertà che voleva e finora la miglior macchina possibile. Che cosa succederà quando Montezemolo gli dirà di non pensare troppo alle feste?”.
Ovviamente i commenti di Danner sono molto interessanti in prospettiva futura, ma è chiaro che alla luce dei noti problemi finanziari della Lotus, la scelta di accasarsi con la Ferrari è stata più che giusta per quanto riguarda Raikkonen. Soprattutto potrebbe esserlo nel 2014, quando la Formula 1 vivrà l’ennesima svolta epocale in termini di regolamento con un campionato che potrebbe essere dominato dall’efficacia delle nuove Power Units.
Inoltre, recenti indiscrezioni riferiscono di una discussione sull’attendibilità dei nuovi soci della Lotus, il gruppo Quantum, perché sempre la tedesca Bild sostiene che il suo capo Mansoor Ijaz è stato spesso accostato ad alcuni affari che poi non si sono mai concretizzati. E a confermare in parte la tesi del media tedesco si aggiunge la testimonianza del giornalista brasiliano Livio Oricchio, il quale ha riferito che l’americano di origine pakistana sarebbe stato citato in tribunale lo scorso anno per via di alcuni prestiti non ripagati.
Il giornale Der Spiegel, riporta che Bernie Ecclestone potrebbe comunque ripianare la situazione economica di Raikkonen, destinando i soldi accumulati nel montepremi della Lotus attraverso i bouns Fom relativi ai piazzamenti per riuscire a pagargli gli stipendi arretrati. Sulla questione, è stato intervistato anche l’ex pilota di F1 e che ora milita nel DTM Timo Glock, che ha voluto fornire la sua opinione in merito. E chi poteva farlo se non lui che lo scorso anno fu costretto ad abbandonare il suo posto alla Marussia che gli preferì Max Chilton perché forte di una cospicua dote economica?
“Questo dimostra ciò che realmente sta accadendo in Formula 1″ – ha ribadito il tedesco a radio Sport 1 – “lo sport ha bisogno di un vero e proprio credo per mantenersi sulla retta via. A parte Ferrari e Mercedes, gli altri stanno avendo tutti delle difficoltà. Bisogna davvero che pensino se i piloti debbano continuare a non essere pagati“.
Infine, tornando per un attimo al rapporto che si rinnoverà a breve tra Raikkonen e la Ferrari, il Team Principal della Rossa Stefano Domenicali, ha spiegato le modalità che hanno indotto la Scuderia a siglare un accordo con quello che si può tranquillamente definire un cavallo di ritorno. “Kimi è diventato inaspettatamente ed improvvisamente disponibile quest’estate” – ha dichiarato il manager italiano al quotidiano Welt – “Abbiamo approfittato dell’occasione. Quella che abbiamo fatto non è stata una scelta consapevole”.
Kimi 2 la vendetta?
Ma perché Kimi al Gran Premio di Abu Dhabi non è partito dalla corsia box? A quanto mi ricordo, in passato è quasi sempre successo che il pilota retrocesso all’ultimo posto scegliesse la partenza dalla pit lane.
Anche perché così qualche modifica la puoi fare sulla vettura. E poi, come ha fatto a centrare in quella maniera la Caterham dell’olandese Giedo Van Der Garde? Non è da lui. Ditemi quello che volete e andate a rivedervi la manovra più volte, cos’ come ho fatto io. Sia chiaro, un pilota come prima cosa pensa a guidare e a superare i rivali in pista – come ha fatto Alonso nello spericolato sorpasso su Vergne – ma, in certe situazioni, si potrebbero formulare anche altre ipotesi… Vedasi “l’incidente” di Nelsinho Piquet a Singapore 2008.
In questo caso non ci sono complotti, voglio metterlo bene in evidenza sin dall’inizio, bensì ragionamenti allo stato puro. Kimi Raikkonen – quest’anno, come del resto l’anno scorso – deve aspettare il finale di campionato per prendersi il suo meritato stipendio dalla Lotus. Nel 2012, a quanto ne sappiamo, il pagamento quasi totale avvenne proprio a fine stagione.
Quest’anno, a quanto rivelato dal pilota finlandese, fino ad Abu Dhabi Iceman non ha visto il becco di un euro, dei 7,3 milioni che gli spettano dei 3 milioni annui, più 40 mila euro a punto da moltiplicare per 183 finora ottenuti dal finlandese. Si sta poco a fare il conto totale sull’ammontare del suo credito. Solo nella tarda mattinata della domenica del Gran Premio di Abu Dhabi sarebbe arrivato l’accordo fra il manager di Kimi, Steve Robertson e Gerard Lopez della Genii Capital, patron della Lotus, grazie e soprattutto all’ ingresso della Quantum Motorsports nella scuderia nera e oro (ha acquistato il 35 per cento delle sue azioni). Accordo che, a quanto pare, necessita delle firme definitive.
Tutto questo dovrebbe scongiurare la minacciata mancata partecipazione del finlandese alle ultime due gare del mondiale, ipotesi questa che manderebbe in bestia Bernie Ecclestone in primis.
Diciamolo chiaro e tondo: Raikkonen e il suo manager Robertson sono due persone che, a livello di soldi, sanno ragionare bene. I 17 milioni di euro ottenuti dalla Ferrari per non correre un anno (2010) in Formula 1 – soldi che poi Kimi ha pure investito nel rally per sfracellarsi qua e là, per giunta con una Citroen marchiata Red Bull – restano un capolavoro da manuale sulla capacità di gestione contrattuale. Se – stando ai si dice della stampa finlandese – a fine 2006 Raikkonen ha rinunciato a un contratto triennale con la Mc Laren pari a un compenso di 24 milioni di euro annui, è molto probabile che negli anni successivi in Ferrari abbia ottenuto molto di più. Secondo Crash.net nel 2009, dopo il titolo mondiale, Raikkonen veniva pagato qualcosa come 45 milioni di euro da Maranello.
Stime complessive sulle fortune del pilota finlandese parlano di un capitale pari ad oltre 120 milioni di euro, a cui va aggiunta la villa di proprietà in Svizzera (Villa Butterfly, zona Baar, 3000 metri quadrati, piscine interne ed esterne), valutata attorno ai 30 milioni di euro.
In più consideriamo un’altra variabile interessante, e cioè quanto il solito Bernie versa alle scuderie quale ricompensa del loro piazzamento nella classifica costruttori. Fra il secondo e il terzo posto ci sono circa dieci milioni di euro di differenza, idem per quanto riguarda il divario fra terzo e quarto posto. A lottare ci sono Mercedes e, guarda caso, Ferrari e Lotus, la futura e l’attuale squadra di Kimi.
Centrando il carneade Van der Garde, Raikkonen, per quanto riguarda la sua parte, ha messo una ‘bella’ casella zero nei punti che la Lotus ha raccolto ad Abu Dhabi, allontanandosi di molto da un secondo posto che sembrava possibile fino alla vigilia della gara nell’Emirato.
Kimi, sempre stando ai si dice, dalla prossima stagione in Ferrari riceverà un assegno di 11 milioni l’anno più bonus (ancora non chiari a noi comuni mortali), più la sponsorizzazione della sua squadra di motocross. Le sottrazioni e le addizioni potete farle anche voi. Di certo la simpatica armonia che abbiamo visto all’inizio del rapporto fra Lotus ed Iceman è andata velocemente a farsi benedire. Quello che, in fondo, successe fra Ferrari e lo stesso Raikkonen, quando a Maranello nel 2008 si cominciò a privilegiare la carta Massa (era il 22 giugno 2008, problema allo scarico destro del motore della rossa del finlandese dopo che questi era rimasto in testa per 34 giri, e Kimi dovette lasciar strada al suo compagno di squadra, pur riuscendo a chiudere al secondo posto).
Insomma, il finlandese è simpatico a parecchi piloti nel paddock – a partire da Sebastian Vettel – ma, secondo me, può essere vendicativo quando vuole. Fernando Alonso è avvisato, sebbene sono convinto che lo sappia già.
Lotus vs Raikkonen: l’altra ipotesi
La Lotus sta deliberatamente favorendo Romain Grosjean a danno di Kimi Raikkonen. Il team vuole in questo modo “vendicarsi” per la scelta del finlandese di lasciare Enstone per Maranello a fine stagione, oltre che per tutte le esternazioni di Raikkonen riguardanti gli stipendi non corrisposti. Materiali di serie B, aggiornamenti riservati al francese, strategie volutamente sbagliate, irregolarità tecniche e conseguenti squalifiche cercate, la Lotus sta mettendo in campo ogni stratagemma per far brillare la stella di Grosjean e offuscare quella di chi, tempo due gran premi, farà i bagagli e tornerà alla Ferrari. Tutto vero, oppure no?
Oggi su F1Passion.it è uscito un eloquente articolo di Franco Bortuzzo intitolato “Kimi 2 la vendetta?“, ipotizzando che nel weekend negativo del finlandese ad Abu Dhabi ci potesse essere lo zampino dello stesso pilota, in rotta col team dopo gli episodi delle ultime settimane. Proviamo ora vedere l’ipotesi opposta: è la Lotus che vuole vendicarsi sul suo ex pupillo?
Dopo il Gran Premio d’Italia, quando a fine stagione mancano ancora 7 gare, mercoledì 11 settembre la Ferrari ufficializza l’ingaggio di Kimi Raikkonen per il 2014. “L’ho fatto per soldi”, butterà lì poco dopo Kimi a Singapore, screditando in conferenza stampa il suo team. Tempo un giorno e puntuale la risposta Lotus, con Kimi che si becca dell’“ingrato” da Lopez (“Avrebbe avuto tutti i suoi soldi, come negli anni precedenti e, come da accordi, a fine stagione. Sono molto confuso circa la tempistica e il contenuto delle dichiarazioni di Kimi”).
Si arriva così al sabato, quando per la prima volta c’è la possibilità che Kimi non disputi la gara: strascichi post annuncio? No (almeno escludendo che Boullier&Lopez si siano dati al malocchio), nel corso delle libere Raikkonen accusa un fastidioso dolore alla schiena, che rientra in extremis. Dolorante, si qualifica 13°, ma in gara stringe i denti ed estrae dal cilindro un entusiasmante terzo posto. Nel frattempo Grosjean, partito 3°, si ritira quando un posto sul podio era possibile.
Dopo un tira e molla via media circa la presenza di Raikkonen a Yeongam, il 4 ottobre inizia il fine settimana del Gran Premio di Corea: nelle libere Kimi sbatte (altro malocchio?), ma il tempo perso non inficia la preparazione alla gara. La Lotus, che per l’occasione ha sdoganato definitivamente l’esemplare a passo lungo, coglie il sabato un quarto posto con Grosjean e, causa giro non perfetto, un 10° tempo con Raikkonen. In gara è tutta un’altra storia: Kimi risale al solito da centro gruppo e, complice la Safety Car, beffa Grosjean alla seconda ripartenza prendendosi il secondo posto. È il momento in cui si scoprono le carte: Grosjean chiede al muretto di riavere la posizione, la richiesta viene respinta ma non si può dire che al francese venga chiesto di non combinare guai e portare a casa una preziosa doppietta nel campionato degli altri (al solito davanti a tutti c’è Vettel), e viene anzi invitato a battagliare con chi lo precede, come se fosse un avversario qualunque. Grosjean alla fine rinuncia, e per la seconda volta mangia polvere.
Sette giorni, e il circus si trasferisce in Giappone. In qualifica torna a svettare Grosjean, che si piazza in seconda fila alle spalle delle Red Bull e riesce anche a tener loro testa nella prima metà di gara, che chiude ancora a podio. Per Raikkonen il fine settimana è complicato da un’altra qualifica deludente (9°), terzo sabato consecutivo in cui vede gli scarichi del compagno di squadra: in gara lotta e regala spettacolo, ma costretto a remare nel traffico non riesce a emergere e chiude al quinto posto. Per la terza volta in stagione Grosjean fa meglio di lui in gara: per il francese è il quarto podio stagionale (contro gli 8 di Raikkonen).
Ancora due settimane di riflessione, in cui continua a covare il risentimento per la scelta di Raikkonen, e si sbarca in India. Kimi torna davanti a Grosjean in griglia, ma la qualifica del francese è rovinata da un clamoroso errore di valutazione del team che lo relega al 17° posto. Gara segnata? Forse per il Grosjean di una volta, non certo per il francese post GP d’Italia (o post annuncio, vedremo…) che sfrutta al meglio la capacità della sua Lotus di gestire le gomme e centra un 3° gradino del podio da antologia la domenica. E Kimi? Qualificatosi 6°, quasi non gli sembra vero di non avere tra i piedi il biondino impertinente (no, non il suo amico Vettel che è sempre sideralmente più avanti) e punta a un’altra gara in recupero, sfruttando proprio il fattore Pirelli quanto mai rilevante a Greater Noida. Per sua sfortuna, qualcuno (il team?) non la pensa così. Pronti via, Raikkonen accusa problemi ai freni (“Ho fatto i primi 20 giri quasi senza freni. Ogni volta che mi avvicinavo a qualcuno la situazione peggiorava”) e anche le Soft non si comportano a dovere: il muretto però lo richiama solo al giro 7, quando ormai anche Perez lo ha passato in pista; pit stop non impeccabile e prospettiva di fare 53 giri con lo stesso set di Medium. Sfida al limite dell’impossibile, e infatti a poco più di una decina di tornate dal termine, Kimi accusa il passo: degrado imponente, ma ancora una volta la squadra lo lascia in pista, dove perde manciate di secondi dagli inseguitori. Tra questi anche Grosjean, che quando prova a passarlo si trova la porta chiusa e rimedia pure un contatto: il muretto non ci vede più e Permane interviene a male parole (qui la vicenda) . Alla fine, quando ormai anche Hembery sta per perdere le staffe, Kimi rientra sulle tele per cambiare le gomme, conservando il settimo posto sotto la bandiera a scacchi.
È questo il primo eclatante episodio ai danni del finlandese da parte del team. Se Raikkonen fosse stato richiamato per tempo, avrebbe innanzitutto evitato di intralciare la rimonta di Grosjean, ma soprattutto avrebbe potuto sfruttare gomme fresche per recuperare su tutti quanti lo precedevano e magari centrare anche il podio. La Lotus ha voluto evitare che Raikkonen potesse finire col riprendere Grosjean? Molto probabile.
L’ultimo GP, ad Abu Dhabi, è cronaca recente. Raikkonen sbarca solo giovedì sera e ammette apertamente di aver pensato di non correre ancora una volta senza vedere un soldo. Ad Abu Dhabi la questione dovrebbe sbloccarsi, e quindi ecco il finlandese in pista. Nelle libere Kimi, che la Lotus ha accontentato permettendogli di tornare alla vettura a passo corto, sembra l’unico in grado di impensierire le Red Bull: in qualifica precede ancora Grosjean, ma la sua Lotus risulta irregolare alle verifiche: giustificazioni del team respinte e Kimi deve accodarsi in fondo al gruppo. Anche qui la scelta del team non è chiarissima: Raikkonen potrebbe rivoluzionare la macchina e partire dalla pit-lane, ma la scelta, come spiega Boullier qui, è un’altra e la Lotus numero 7 si accomoda sulla casella numero 22 della griglia. Pronti via, alla prima curva Kimi centra la Caterham di van der Garde e si ritira. Lo ha fatto apposta, forse sì (leggi qui) per ricambiare con la stessa moneta (zero punti) il comportamento della Lotus (zero euro). Grosjean chiude al quarto posto.
Dalla nostra breve carrellata sulle ultime cinque gare, risulta che Raikkonen è stato penalizzato dal team? Propenderemmo per il no.
Raikkonen ha ricevuto l’unico palese quanto assurdo danno in India. Per il resto, Giappone escluso, è riuscito a svettare su Grosjean senza impedimenti di sorta.
Che beneficio avrebbe la Lotus dal penalizzare Kimi perdendo al contempo i bonus economici per il secondo posto tra i Costruttori? Vuole mettere in luce e dare fiducia alla prima guida del 2014 Grosjean? Avrà tutto il tempo per farlo. Vuole fa vedere che vince anche senza Raikkonen? Solo in Giappone ci è andata vicina, e in altre due gare l’impresa l’ha fatta Kimi. Vuole vendicarsi? Beh, continua a beneficiare di uno dei più forti piloti in circolazione senza sborsare un soldo…
Insomma, i 57 punti a 49 in favore di Grosjean nelle ultime cinque gare non bastano a sostenere il francese è arrivato davanti a Raikkonen solo grazie all’aiuto del team. Il finlandese non ha brillato in qualifica, ma a bene vedere l’unico errore paese l’ha pagato Grosjean in India e anche ad Abu Dhabi Kimi era davanti.
Che il clima intorno a Raikkonen in Lotus non sia dei migliori, questo è evidente. Da qui a parlare di complotti ai suoi danni, ce ne passa, ma soprattutto manca l’evidenza.
Kimi Raikkonen set to stick with short wheelbase Lotus car
Kimi Raikkonen is set to stick with the short wheelbase Lotus for the remainder of the 2013 Formula 1 season after some encouraging signs from Abu Dhabi.
Although the Finn endured a tough weekend – having threatened to not drive, being forced to start from the back and then crashing out at the first corner – there were still some flashes of promise on track.
His decision to go back to the shorter wheelbase was fuelled by the fact that the longer wheelbase version used since the Korean Grand Prix had not suited his driving style as much.
The switch appeared to pay off, with Raikkonen delivering his best qualifying performance since the German Grand Prix prior to his exclusion.
Lotus team boss Eric Boullier said it was likely that Raikkonen would stick with that configuration from now on.
When asked if Raikkonen was going to fall in line with Romain Grosjean’s preference for the longer wheelbase car, Boullier: "I don’t think so.
"I may be going too far too fast, but it looks like he prefers the short wheelbase, while Romain likes the long wheelbase."
Raikkonen said in Abu Dhabi that the choice of the car was not circuit dependent, and that he would have to commit to a choice before each race weekend.
"If you go from one configuration to another it is not a very easy thing to do, as it is not easy to change during the weekend," he said.
"So whatever we choose to do, we have to stick with it for that race."
Lotus: Kimi Raikkonen ‘back on side’ after 2013 F1 pay dispute
Lotus has no doubts that Kimi Raikkonen is now ‘back on side’ with the team following his threat to quit the Formula 1 outfit over a pay dispute last weekend.
Raikkonen needed persuading to race in Abu Dhabi after issues relating to unpaid wages reached a head in the wake of the Indian Grand Prix.
The Finn also made it clear that he would not see out the season if the issue was not sorted.
However, AUTOSPORT revealed on Sunday that a deal was struck between his management and Lotus representatives to ensure he would take part in the final races of this year’s campaign.
Despite further flash points over the weekend, caused by a qualifying exclusion because of a floor issue and a first corner incident that put Raikkonen out of the race, the team has no doubts that the 2007 world champion is now fully committed.
Team principal Eric Boullier said: "He is completely on side.
"The stewards’ decision was nothing to do with him, and the incident at the first corner was another thing where nothing could be done.
"This weekend he qualified fifth fastest with the short wheelbase car that he prefers to drive.
"So Kimi is there, Kimi is a competitor and he will push."
Despite the difficulties that Raikkonen’s tough stance over wages caused him, Boullier said he understood that getting issues sorted off-track was vital for the team if it was to move forward.
"Like any company, especially any racing team, you need stability," he said.
"You need strategy for the future. And you need to be able – you and the people all around you – to focus on one thing: delivering a good car and a good driver.
"It is easy to be distracted by many, many different subjects when you just want to focus on the main one, which is racing.
"But at the end of the day, whatever story you have around, having the result on track is the only way to deliver."
Lotus investors Quantum: no regrets F1 deal too late for Raikkonen
The group of investors that is buying in to the Lotus Formula 1 team insists there are no regrets that its deal came too late to retain Kimi Raikkonen.
Raikkonen held out over the summer for the Quantum investment to be finalised, but matters were delayed because of banking restrictions delaying money transfers and the Finn eventually decided on a switch to Ferrari for 2014.
Mansoor Ijaz, the man behind Quantum Motorsports, does not hide from the fact that he would have liked Raikkonen to stay, but he thinks it cannot rue what might have been.
"I have enormous respect for Kimi as a driver," said Ijaz. "I actually love his mercurial personality.
"But it is not a matter of having regret.
"We live in a world where many things happen beyond our control and this was one of [those] situations. It wasn’t possible for us.
"We did everything we could. We moved this way, they blocked; we moved that way, they blocked; we moved that way, and finally we got it through.
"But by that time people had other things that they needed to do.
"Everyone has their own time cycle over which they make decisions. We can’t change that.
"The answer is that I never will say I regret that he left because we have a beautiful and bright horizon with Nico Hulkenberg in front of us.
"But, at the same time I can’t in any shape or form take away what he meant to this team and what he means to the sport of F1.
"He drives with passion and a zest that I have seen in very few other drivers in my lifetime.
"He takes risks that not many drivers take. Would we have loved to have had him for another year or two? Yes.
"But we wish him well at Ferrari and we look forward to standing next to him, one step higher, on the podium next year in every race we possibly can."
Quantum says its Lotus Formula 1 investment deal is done
Lotus’s long-term Formula 1 future received a major boost on Sunday night when investment group Quantum Motorsports said its deal to buy into the team was complete.
After a weekend when questions about Lotus’s financial state emerged following Kimi Raikkonen’s threat to not race because he had not been paid, major progress was made in the much heralded agreement.
Mansoor Ijaz, who is the head of the Quantum Motorsports consortium that includes Middle East investors, said that his company had now completed its side of the contract and just needed final approval from team owner Genii Capital.
"There is no question that the deal is definitely happening," he said, when asked by AUTOSPORT about the latest situation.
"I will even go out as far as to say that it has now been completed from our side in terms of what has to be done."
Quantum plans to buy a 35 per cent stake in the team through new shares issued by majority owner Genii.
There are also options for it to potentially take over the entire running of the team in the future, should Genii wish to scale down its involvement.
"We have options – I won’t go into the details of those options – but the options do allow us in a fixed amount of time to take control of the team later on," Ijaz added. "We will do that in a way that is very co-ordinated with our partners at Genii."
APOLOGY TO RAIKKONEN
Ijaz revealed that the major investment deal will allow Lotus to pay off its debts, pay off suppliers – and also settle its pay dispute with Raikkonen.
As AUTOSPORT revealed earlier, Raikkonen has now reached a deal with Lotus to sort out his issues and will now race in the final two grands prix of the 2013 season.
Ijaz said he was sorry for allowing the matter to get so out of hand after meeting with Raikkonen’s manager Steve Robertson on Saturday night.
"We have apologised to Kimi," he said. "We intend to not only make sure that they are made whole, and then some, but we are intending also to compensate our employees and management team for having taken it on the chin from you guys [the media] in recent weeks."
Lotus has not yet officially confirmed the completion of the Quantum deal, but team principal Eric Boullier said on Sunday that he hoped an announcement could be made in the next 48 hours.
"I will not comment on this yet," he said. "I can’t say anything yet. I think by Tuesday. I certainly hope so."
Kimi Raikkonen to see out 2013 F1 season with Lotus as row settled
Kimi Raikkonen has reached a provisional agreement with Lotus to settle his pay dispute, AUTOSPORT can reveal, which should ensure he completes the 2013 Formula 1 season with the team.
Following a weekend of intense negotiations between the Finn’s management and Lotus owner Gerard Lopez, sources have confirmed that a skeleton deal has been put in place that resolves their issues.
Although Raikkonen had been persuaded to race in Abu Dhabi after threatening to not do so, he and his management team made it emphatically clear that he would not continue for the United States and Brazil races if matters were not sorted.
Speaking on Friday, when he revealed he had not been paid at all during 2013, Raikkonen has said: "I enjoy racing, I enjoy driving – but a big part of it is business. Sometimes when that is not dealt with like it should we end up in an unfortunate situation.
"You have to put the line somewhere, and if it goes over that… it is not really my fault any more."
That threat, and the possibility of there even being court action if Lotus was not willing to concede some ground, proved a catalyst for the situation to be sorted.
AUTOSPORT understands that on Sunday morning, following more than two days of talks, Lopez and Raikkonen’s manager Steve Robertson laid out a framework for moving forward that both parties are happy with.
As long as the deal is formally signed off by lawyers, and Lotus sticks to the points of the agreement laid out, then Raikkonen will compete in the final two races of the campaign.
Raikkonen’s presence will be valuable to the team as it is locked in a big battle with Mercedes and Ferrari for second place in the constructors’ championship.
The Finn had a nightmare weekend in Abu Dhabi, starting last after his car failed a post-qualifying floor deflection test and then retiring on the first lap.
Raikkonen believes grid start was correct call
Kimi Raikkonen insisted he had no regrets about starting from the back of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix grid rather than the pitlane, despite crashing out at the first corner.
After Raikkonen’s exclusion from qualifying, Lotus had the option to start him either from 22nd on the grid, giving him the chance to make up ground off the line, or from the pits to avoid any first-corner trouble.
Raikkonen took the start from the grid, but tangled with Giedo van der Garde’s Caterham at Turn 1 and immediately retired.
Asked afterwards if he now felt he should have started from the pits, Raikkonen replied: "no".
He believes he was unlucky that the van der Garde incident did as much damage as it did.
"I went to the inside and then somehow managed to touch with a Caterham," said Raikkonen.
"We didn’t touch hard but I think the angle was very unlucky and it broke the steering."
AUTOSPORT revealed earlier that Raikkonen’s management and Lotus had reached a deal to resolve their pay dispute prior to the race, ensuring that the Finn will see out the 2013 Formula 1 season.
Early Bath for Kimi Räikkönen in Abu Dhabi
Disqualified from qualifying then eliminated on the opening lap; it’s not been an easy twenty-four hours for Kimi here at the Yas Marina. In typical style, the Iceman tells it how it is…
An abrupt end to your Abu Dhabi weekend; talk us through it
There was some contact in front of me through the first corner so I stuck to the inside, but unfortunately one of the Caterhams touched my front wheel and it broke the track rod. It wasn’t a heavy impact, but the angle made it worse and i had to retire from the race.
Some were suggesting a pit lane start may have been wise; would this have made a difference?
It’s never easy starting so far back on the grid, but after the penalty it was a better choice to help our chances in the race rather than starting from the pit lane. After a difficult start to the weekend we did well yesterday so it was a shame we couldn’t start where we qualified, but these things happen sometimes; it’s just back luck.
Any thoughts heading to Austin?It wasn’t the best weekend here in terms of results, but the car has been much more to my liking so hopefully it will be the same again at the next races. If we can keep it how I like it then we’ll be able to push for some better results, so we’ll see how it is in Austin.
Abu Dhabi GP: Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus excluded from qualifying
Kimi Raikkonen has been excluded from qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix following a front floor deflection test failure.
Representatives of his Lotus team were summoned to see the race stewards in Abu Dhabi after it was found that Raikkonen’s car did not conform to the regulations.
The left hand side of the floor was found to deflect more than the permitted 5mm vertically when the testing load was applied to it.
Investigations by Lotus found that the issue had been caused by a broken floor due to kerb damage, but the stewards did not accept the explanation.
He has been excluded from qualifying but will be allowed to start from the back of the grid.
A statement issued by the FIA said: "The stewards heard the explanation of the team that the relevant part broke upon contact with a kerb.
"However, the stewards did not accept that the incident referred to constituted an accident, or excused failing the relevant test."
AUTOSPORT understands that the stewards did not accept the explanation because Romain Grosjean’s car had suffered a similar problem in Hungary earlier this year, when he escaped a penalty after hitting a kerb.
While a one-off event like that could be put down to misfortune, the stewards felt that modifications should have been made to the car to ensure that there was no repeat event.
Raikkonen’s penalty means that he will not be able to take up his best grid slot since the German Grand Prix in July, having qualified fifth.
For the Abu Dhabi weekend Raikkonen has reverted to the shorter wheelbase version of the E21 after feeling that the longer version did not suit his driving style.
"We wanted to do it in previous races already but some races we could not," said the Finn. "I was told it was maybe an area where I can get the car like I want, so it has been OK.
"I think it doesn’t need to be a big change, but if you get the front end as I like it, then I can drive normally and everything comes more to like it should be. At least here today was not too bad."
Revised Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying results: Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m39.957s 2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m40.075s +0.118s 3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m40.419s +0.462s 4. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m40.501s +0.544s 5. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m40.576s +0.619s 6. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m40.997s +1.040s 7. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m41.015s +1.058s 8. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m41.068s +1.111s 9. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m41.111s +1.154s Q2 cut-off time: 1m40.989s Gap ** 10. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m41.093s +0.620s 11. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m41.133s +0.660s 12. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m41.200s +0.727s 13. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m41.279s +0.806s 14. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m41.395s +0.922s 15. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m41.447s +0.974s Q1 cut-off time: 1m41.884s Gap * 16. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m41.999s +1.306s 17. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m42.051s +1.358s 18. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m43.252s +2.559s 19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m43.398s +2.705s 20. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m43.528s +2.835s 21. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m44.198s +3.505s 22. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m40.542s +0.585s*** 107% time: 1m47.741s * Gap to quickest in Q1 ** Gap to quickest in Q2 *** Excluded post-session
Abu Dhabi GP: Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus fails qualifying floor test
Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus Formula 1 car has failed a front floor deflection test after qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Finn had qualified in fifth place, but following post session checks by the FIA his car was found not to be in conformity with the regulations.
A statement issued by the governing body said that both Raikkonen and Nico Hulkenberg’s cars had been tested, with the Lotus not passing while the Sauber complied.
It stated that the Lotus’s "front floor deflected more than 5mm vertically when the load was applied vertically to it at the point which lies 100mm of car centre line on the LHS [left hand side]"
Lotus representatives have been summoned to the stewards to explain what happened, and whether or not there is an explanation for the failure such as a broken part.
At the Hungarian Grand Prix earlier this season, Romain Grosjean escaped a penalty after a similar situation when it was proved that a broken floor stay had resulted in it not passing the deflection tests.
Lotus successfully argued then that an impact with the kerbs had damaged the stay, which resulted in the test irregularity.
Kimi Räikkönen Pleased to be Back on Top of His E21
With the shorter wheelbase E21 seeming to suit the Iceman here in Abu Dhabi, a P5 qualifying performance leaves him in a confident mood heading into the race where he scored his 2012 victory
How was your Saturday in Abu Dhabi?
Today wasn’t too bad overall. In the early sessions both yesterday and today I struggled a bit to get the car working how I wanted, but in the evening when the temperature is cooler it’s been much more to my liking. This is good as the race will be in the evening so we’d prefer it that way around for sure.
How’s progress with your return to the short wheelbase car?
The short wheelbase car seems to suit my style a bit better, so hopefully we can continue this way for tomorrow. It’s not a big change, but if you can get the front end of the car as you want it there can be a big difference in how it feels. This means I can drive normally and everything comes to me as I want it. Here today it was not too bad.
Can you have a strong race like last year?
Of course, you always want to be as far up the grid as you can and we clearly weren’t the fastest today, but you never know what might happen on Sunday. Our car is usually good in the race and as long as we don’t have any issues we should be up there fighting for a good result.
Zero euro per Kimi e una pole da scoprire
Incontro un vecchio meccanico della Ferrari e mi fa: visti i risultati nel deserto, forse converrebbe sfidare la Red Bull al Polo Nord.
Poi si ferma e fa un ghigno: oppure provare a batterli con un pilota nato non lontano dal Polo Nord.
Costui, inteso come Kimi Raikkonen, giusto in serata, nel luccichio della artificiale ricchezza emiresca, ha così esternato: "Talvolta decisamente non è piacevole sentirsi dire che non sei un uomo squadra e che non ti stanno a cuore gli interessi della scuderia, quando dall’inizio della stagione hai ricevuto come compenso per il tuo lavoro zero euro".
Mi dispiace per i detrattori del vecchio/nuovo ferrarista, ma io adoro quest’uomo.
E se non dovesse correre in Texas e in Brasile mi dispiacerebbe appunto per i suoi critici, costretti a rimandare le contumelie a Melbourne 2014.
Ciò premesso, offro questo spazio a chi desiderasse raccontare in presa diretta la pole di Abu Dhabi.
Dalla generazione mille euro al pilota zero euro.
Va mo là.