Raikkonen’s manager explains decisions behind Sauber F1 2019 return
Kimi Raikkonen’s manager Steve Robertson says the Finn is fully motivated to race for Sauber next season, and had no intention of retiring from Formula 1 had Ferrari dropped him.
Raikkonen, who turns 39 next month, agreed a two-year deal to return to Sauber – the team he made his F1 debut with in 2001 – earlier this month.
Many observers assumed Raikkonen would not want to join another if he left Ferrari but, explaining the decision to join Sauber, Robertson said the 2007 world champion’s passion for F1 means he is not ready to stop or try another category.
"Kimi wants to drive F1 cars, he loves it," said Robertson.
"People are surprised because having driven for Ferrari for so many years most people expected him to retire, sit on his yacht, and enjoy the rest of his life.
"But he loves driving F1 cars, he gets a buzz from that. Kimi loves being on the edge. If he’s not doing this he wants to ride motocross, but this is the pinnacle for him.
"And once we knew that it wasn’t going to happen at Ferrari, he wanted to do a deal.
"You have to look at the situation of Sauber as well. They have some backers now.
"Two years ago would he have gone there when the team was hanging on? Firstly they couldn’t even have afforded him, and secondly it was a ship that was sinking.
"Now they’ve taken on Kimi, an A-lister in F1, a world champion, and it shows their intent, where they want to be.
"The focus for him [is] is the team going to go forward, and do we have what we need for me to get the team further forward?"
Robertson is convinced that Raikkonen will not be frustrated by not having a car that is capable of challenging for wins.
"Personally I don’t think that will happen," said Robertson. "Because he will work with the team to try and improve things.
"He knows realistically what he’s going into. He doesn’t have to do it, he does it because he feels he can help them.
"I think you have a different mindset. I would say now the gulf to the bigger teams has widened. If you could say right now take seventh places for the next two years – I’d sign it. Because that would be the absolute best.
"You’ve got to be realistic as well, and he’d take pride in that, to help them grow.
"He realises that the wins, unless it’s an absolutely freaky race, are not going to happen. But in terms of development, he’s got a lot to offer.
"He knows it’s a different role from Ferrari. Kimi’s know-how, his focus on development, he can really help them to get to where they want to be in a much quicker way."
Robertson also compared the Sauber switch with Raikkonen’s time at Lotus, where he was given more freedom than he experienced at McLaren or Ferrari.
Raikkonen has F1 seat fitting at Sauber, prompting test speculation
Kimi Raikkonen has had a first Formula 1 seat fitting at Sauber, prompting speculation that he could test for the team later this year.
The 2007 world champion is based close to Sauber’s Hinwil base, so it made sense for Raikkonen to make an early visit to the facility before an intense end-of-season flyaway schedule.
Sauber and Ferrari’s close technical collaboration also meant there was little concern about potential team secrets passing to the customer outfit.
Sources have revealed that Raikkonen visited the factory on Friday for meetings with senior staff, and create a seat-fitting mould that can then be used around him in the cockpit of the 2019 design.
Having a seat ready also opens up the possibility of Raikkonen testing Sauber’s 2018 car later this year at a tyre test.
Last week, Raikkonen sat out Pirelli’s Paul Ricard test with Ferrari – which instead ran 2019 signing and current Sauber driver Charles Leclerc before he handed over to Sebastian Vettel.
It is possible, therefore, that Raikkonen could receive the return favour during a Pirelli tyre test that Sauber will be complete in Mexico after next month’s race.
Robertson (manager Raikkonen): “Kimi potrebbe restare in Ferrari anche nel 2018”
Sul rinnovo: "In Ferrari avranno anche sondato il mercato, ma hanno ritenuto che non fosse il caso di cambiare pilota"
Sono passate quasi due settimane dal rinnovo di Kimi Raikkonen, un prolungamento contrattuale che lega il finlandese alla Ferrari sino al termine della prossima stagione e che di fatto ha messo la parola fine alle continue speculazioni sul futuro dell’ultimo campione del mondo con la Rossa. In un’intervista rilasciata a Motorsport.com, Steve Robertson – manager di Raikkonen – ha dichiarato che il rapporto professionale tra Maranello e un “motivato” Iceman potrebbe proseguire ben oltre il 2017.
“Naturalmente tutto dipenderebbe da Kimi – ha dichiarato Robertson a Motorsport.com – Se ora dovessi dare la mia opinione, vedendo anche le sue motivazioni, direi certamente di sì. Poi naturalmente bisognerà capire le intenzioni del team. Lui ha molti stimoli, come si può chiaramente vedere”.
“Lo conosco da tanti anni e per me è più determinato ora rispetto al passato. Un pilota come Kimi è in F1 perchè ama questo sport. Non ha bisogno di altre motivazioni, se non quella di fare ciò che gli piace”.
Il manager di Raikkonen non poteva non spendere alcune parole sul fresco rinnovo di contratto, annunciato dalla Ferrari nel week-end di Silverstone: “Finalmente sono terminate tutte quelle pressioni esterne e può trascorrere una serena pausa estiva, sapendo che ha ottenuto quello che voleva. In Ferrari avranno anche sondato il mercato, ma hanno ritenuto che non fosse il caso di cambiare pilota. Sanno molto bene quello che Kimi può ancora dare e hanno fatto la loro scelta”.
Dopo le prime dieci gare stagionali Raikkonen è terzo nel Mondiale, alle spalle della coppia Mercedes Rosberg-Hamilton, con 106 punti all’attivo. Bottino condito anche da quattro podi: dal ritorno in Ferrari il finlandese non aveva mai avuto questa costanza di rendimento.
“Kimi ha una guida particolare, specie con l’anteriore – ha aggiunto Robertson – Si trova a suo agio con l’attuale monoposto rispetto alle vetture precedenti”.
Kimi Raikkonen’s manager says everything is moving in the right direction for the Finn to extend his Ferrari contract beyond this year.
Raikkonen, who last year hinted that 2015 might be his last season in Formula 1, is now committed to a longer term future with the team, and just has to wait for the Maranello outfit to take up its option.
Lewis Hamilton has been linked with Raikkonen’s Ferrari seat, but the Briton’s Mercerdes team has ruled out a move.
“Everybody’s positive,” his manager Steve Robertson told Motorsport.com. “Kimi wants to carry on and he’s made that very, very clear.
“The team is happy with his input and his consistency. It’s all positive talk, but there’s a difference between positive talk and pen to paper and all that sort of stuff.
“But at the end of the day it’s all heading in the right direction. He wants to be part of it, 100 per cent.”
Raikkonen has been upbeat since his first run in the SF15-T hinted at the potential of the package, and he works well with friend Sebastian Vettel.
Robertson agrees that the key is Raikkonen is having fun again.
“As soon as he had the first test he said, ‘The car’s a good car, there’s a lot more potential there, they took a big step in the chassis and a big step in the engine.
“He’s enjoying driving. At the end of the day for Kimi it’s very important that he enjoys it, he doesn’t need to be here for any other reason.
“He wants to be competitive, he wants to be challenging for races wins and championships, and now he’s in the position to do that.
“It’s a completely different team, it’s a completely different package. Everything is positive. Last year it was difficult to find something positive. He enjoys the car, it suits his driving style more, he’s in a team that’s on the upward trend. Everybody is pushing.
“Just look around at all the smiling faces, and Kimi’s one of those smiling faces.
“He loves F1 when it’s like this – of course he doesn’t love F1 when everything’s a shit fight and the car’s not good. He loves the environment like it is, and the package, and he can only see it getting stronger.”
Esponente di una classe di debuttanti mai così competitiva come quella di quest’anno, Felipe Nasr rigetta la qualifica di pay driver. Se è vero che la sua carriera è stata spinta negli ultimi anni dal munifico Banco do Brasil, il sudamericano ha comunque faticato per arrivare in alto. E, quando gli sponsor latitavano, ha ricordato di essere stato aiutato proprio da… Kimi Raikkonen.
Quinto al debutto in Australia, ancorché rivedibile nel torrido Gran Premio della Malesia, Felipe Nasr è indubbiamente un giovane che non sta demeritando di essere seduto su una monoposto di Formula 1. Troppe volte, negli ultimi anni, il suo nome è stato però un emblema del fenomeno dei pay driver, data la vicinanza con il munifico Banco do Brasil, che ha colorato di giallo-blu anche la Sauber C34 oltre che le sue vecchie monoposto di GP2.
Se è indubbio che per l’accordo con il team elvetico sia stato determinante l’apporto dell’istituto finanziario sudamericano, dall’altra parte, però, proprio Nasr ha ricordato di aver dovuto fare tanta gavetta prima di arrivare nella classe regina del motorsport. Una carriera, dunque, non sempre agevolata da sponsor personali, ma basata anzitutto su un talento che, come ricordato proprio dal ventiduenne di Brasilia, in passato ha ricevuto sostegno economico persino da parte di Kimi Raikkonen.“Kimi è stato uno di quelli che hanno investito dei soldi sulla mia carriera – ha spiegato l’alfiere Sauber intervistato da Canal Latin America, in riferimento al suo primo anno in Formula 3 con il Double R Racing, già Raikkonen Robertson Racing, fondato proprio da Iceman e dal suo manager – quando la mia famiglia non era in grado di sostenerne le spese”. Poi, in merito alle voci che lo accreditano come pilota con la valigia, ha ribadito quanto già dichiarato a inizio stagione: “Qual è il problema nell’avere degli sponsor sulla propria macchina? Non vedo poi grandi differenze tra l’essere supportato, per esempio, dalla Red Bull che ti paga per guidare, piuttosto che avere un diverso sponsor che ti segue passo dopo passo!”.
Manager Raikkonen: “Kimi in grado di tenere il ritmo di Vettel”
1 aprile 2015 – Il manager di Kimi Raikkonen, Steve Robertson, ha confermato che il suo assistito è assolutamente in grado di esprimere lo stesso livello di prestazioni del compagno di squadra alla Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel.
Ma se l’anno scorso il confronto con Alonso era davvero impari per via di una monoposto che non corrispondeva allo stile di guida del finlandese, nel 2015, nonostante la SF15-T sia finalmente in linea con le caratteristiche di Raikkonen, quest’ultimo si trova già a 28 punti di distacco dal collega di marca tedesco nella classifica iridata. Come detto le due situazioni sono diametralmente opposte e ciò depone sicuramente a favore del trentacinquenne di Espoo. Questo perché bisogna tener conto che in Australia è rimasto vittima di un problema tecnico, innescatosi al primo pit stop a causa di un episodio che l’ha visto azionare la frizione con un attimo di anticipo mentre il dado della ruota non era ancora stato fissato. In Malesia, purtroppo, dopo una qualifica non perfetta, Raikkonen ha subito il tamponamento da parte della Sauber di Nasr, che nei primi chilometri di gara gli ha forato la ruota posteriore sinistra, sempre lei, costringendolo ad un lunghissimo giro di rientro prima di poter sostituire il pneumatico danneggiato o quel che ne rimaneva attorno al cerchione.
Tutte difficoltà che, secondo Robertson, non hanno a che fare con la performance che è in grado di esprimere il campione del Mondo 2007, bersagliato più che altro dalla sorte avversa in occasione degli episodi di cui abbiamo accennato in precedenza. “Credo fermamente che Kimi e Sebastian siano molto vicini e possano esprimere il medesimo livello di prestazioni” – ha dichiarato il manager di Raikkonen al quotidiano finlandese Turun Sanomat – “La cosa più importante è che Kimi sia molto soddisfatto della macchina. L’intero pacchetto è molto più competitivo che nella passata stagione. Venerdì, durante le libere, Kimi è stato in grado di dimostrare quello che è il suo reale potenziale. Cosa alla quale molti concorrenti hanno prestato parecchia attenzione”. Una consapevolezza che pare abbiano maturato in pieno anche in casa Ferrari, dove il team principal, Maurizio Arrivabene, ha difeso la scelta di confermare ancora Raikkonen nonostante un 2014 decisamente sottotono e dopo averlo comunque punzecchiato al termine delle qualifiche a Sepang.
Infatti, quando al manager bresciano è stato chiesto da Sport Bild se avesse preferito avere a fianco di Vettel un pilota grintoso e combattivo come Fernando Alonso, quest’ultimo ha risposto: “Non credo che questa eventualità sia mai stata realmente considerata. Ma è anche inutile pensarci, perché adesso siamo assolutamente soddisfatti della coppia di piloti formata da Kimi Raikkonen e Sebastian Vettel”. Nel frattempo, mentre la Mercedes corre ai ripari per cercare di rispondere al più presto all’avvicinamento della Ferrari e riprendersi il ruolo di leader della categoria, a Maranello è arrivato un altro rinforzo per il comparto tecnico. Si tratta di Inaki Rueda, ingegnere spagnolo ex Lotus, che si occuperà delle strategie della Rossa già a partire dal Gran Premio di Cina. Un altro pezzetto di quello che fu il “dream team” di Enstone, dove proprio Raikkonen fece di nuovo innamorare i suoi fans e gli appassionati di F1 nel biennio 2012 – 2013. Speriamo che anche questo sia di buon auspicio per la rinascita di Kimi.
Raikkonen could stay beyond 2015
Kimi Raikkonen’s manager says it is possible the Finn will stay at Ferrari beyond the 2015 season.
A report in Finland’s Turun Sanomat said the 2007 world champion’s current deal expires at the end of the year, with a double-sided option to extend into 2016.
Manager Steve Robertson said: "Above all, he has to enjoy the driving."
Raikkonen, 35 and now father to a newborn son, struggled notably in 2014 alongside Fernando Alonso.
Robertson added: "If he is doing well, and he has the feeling that everything is working, the enthusiasm infects the entire team.
"If that happens, I believe it is possible that Kimi could stay longer."
At the very least, Robertson is expecting Raikkonen to work well alongside his new teammate and friend, Sebastian Vettel.
"At the beginning of his career, Sebastian travelled with Kimi and that’s where it started to develop.
"Sebastian saw how straightforward Kimi is and that he could be trusted without reservation. They seem to have a lot in common.
"Sometimes it happens in motor racing that drivers can have good relationships and still the competition between them remains tough," Robertson added.
"I think the direction of the team will now be better — Sebastian and Kimi are the right combination for Ferrari," he said.
Morto David Robertson
A lungo manager di Raikkonen con il figlio
Lo storico manager di Kimi Raikkonen David Robertson è scomparso questo mercoledì ad appena settant’anni a seguito di una lunga malattia.
Fu grazie a lui che nel 2000 Jenson Button, su cui aveva puntato molto, poté entrare in F1, poi assieme al figlio Steve il lungo legame con Iceman seguito fino all’aggravarsi del male qualche mese fa e di cui ora si occuperà la MB Partners dell’ex pilota Mark Blundell.
E come Roberston parlava di Kimi (2007):
How to manage a champion – exclusive with David Robertson
There are drivers everybody wants to manage and there are driver managers everybody envies. Only as a team do they make it to the very top – Ayrton Senna and Julian Jacobi, Michael Schumacher and Willi Weber, Kimi Raikkonen and David and Steve Robertson.
If the driver has what it takes, it’s up to the manager to take him to the team that delivers. If all goes well the story ends in Monaco, at the yearly FIA Gala, receiving the champion’s trophy. That’s where we caught up with David Robertson…
Q: David, you’ve come a long way with Kimi. How does it feel for the both of you to have finally won the title and trophy?
David Robertson: Well, the words that I have to describe this feeling seem, to Steve and I, to be really inadequate. Sheer ecstasy is the feeling and we are still smiling now. When you think that despite two mechanical failures he still did it – winning the most races and scoring the most fastest laps. It was so close in 2003, when he would have been the youngest driver ever and then in 2005, after more failures than I care to remember, he was to be thwarted again. It began to make you think that it was never meant to be, so to finally do it, in such a dramatic fashion against all the odds, was just unbelievable. As everyone knows, with reliability, he would already be three times a world champion!
Q: Kimi has said that nothing will change – that he will always stay the same. Nevertheless, it must be different now that he is champion and he doesn’t have to prove he is of title-winning material…
DR: I am sure that he feels like he says because that is the way that he is. What he says to you is what he means – there are no sides to the lad. But if it were a normal person I’d agree with you that they would feel like they have had a huge monkey taken off of their back.
Q: How did you and Kimi meet? What was it that convinced you that he had what it would take to become a great?
DR: We met when he was brought to our attention through that well known petrol head Peter Collins. Peter told us all about this kid who was in an inferior kart to the rest but was always there in the frame and that in the wet he was amazing. Steve and I then brought him over to test and he was awesome to say the least – he literally looked like he could make the car talk. I know that it sounds corny, but that is the truth. To Steve, he reminded him of the drivers that he had driven against like Schumacher and Hakkinen and he had the best car control that he had ever seen. From the moment that I first met him we took to him completely, hook, line and sinker. As a person, we trusted him and, if you like, he became one of the family, as we literally love him. To me he was like another son and to Steve like a brother. When we address cards to him, we tell him that it is from his English family and you know I like to feel that that is the way that he thinks of us. That’s not to say that his real parents were not 100 percent behind him, because without them he would not be here. They are amazing people too. With them too, what you see is what you get, there are no sides to them – they are the salt of the earth. They sacrificed a lot to enable their son to do what he always wanted to do.
Q: Kimi hasn’t made a wrong move in his career to date – every team he has joined has moved him on. How much does he get involved in these decisions? Or does he trust you completely to make them?
DR: He has a lot of respect for what we think and we make the decisions together. Of course it goes without saying that it was the right thing to do to go to Ferrari, after all, that is the team that all the drivers on the grid want to go to at some point in their career.
Q: But with several key people leaving after Michael Schumacher’s retirement, joining Ferrari was a bit of a gamble. You must have believed that even with those uncertainties, Kimi would enjoy a better 2007 with the Italian team than if he had stayed at McLaren or headed to Renault…
DR: Yes, contrary to what other people thought, we thought that the team had more strength in depth than that. The one person that we thought was critical to the move was the man himself – Jean Todt. I have never known anyone that works as hard as he does. If he was not going to be there, then it would have been a different story. Like any great leader, though, I have found that his work ethic has been contagious and that all of the people that are there are the same and they follow their leader. The passion there is second to none. Trust me, there is no other single reason why Ferrari are the team that they are, than the passion that lies in their very core and spreads to every man that works in their factories. Italy is a very proud nation and they are behind their team and their drivers.
Q: A driver dubbed the ‘Iceman’ and a team that is known for its big emotions – how could that combination possibly work?
DR: You are right, Kimi is not one for wearing his heart on his sleeve and this was one of the things that attracted Ferrari to him. They thought that Kimi was different. After all, he was Kimi and not Michael. That, though, has not made any difference and the team are already very fond of him because he never moans, never makes excuses and just gets on with the job. He sometimes makes mistakes himself and therefore never sees fit to blame anyone in the team for their mistakes either. I once remember Ron (Dennis) said to Kimi, ‘hey, we are moving this guy from the race team as he is the one that caused the finger problem’. Kimi immediately said to him that he was not to touch any of his team, as they never did it deliberately and that everyone makes mistakes so please leave them alone. That is Kimi and that is why so many still love him at McLaren – and why they do now at Ferrari.
Q: Kimi is world champion and Ferrari the constructors’ champion, so everybody must be on cloud nine. Leaving the celebrations to one side, how was the year as a whole? When Kimi joined, some argued that with the team so focused on Schumacher, any successor would have a hard time…
DR: I think that as far as the press are concerned they run away with their own views and they are normally a long way from the truth. The fact is that of course Michael was important to Ferrari but so were so many other people, if you like they were the unsung heroes. Schumacher was a great driver, but Ferrari are a great team. Some people got carried away with the importance of a few individuals and forgot that it was the team, not that jack built, but that Jean Todt built and that Michael was a part of that team and not the sole reason as to why it did well. The team were unbelievable with Kimi when he started. They made every effort to make him feel at home and helped him through the difficulties that he had with the new tyres and his new crew.
Q: Looking back at that crucial race in Brazil, how was Kimi emotionally in those days. Did you speak to him about it?
DR: There is no doubt that, as you would expect, he was over the moon he had managed to pull it off. We were so proud of him during the post-race interviews. You could not have written it any better than the way that he handled it, it was word perfect. The good news is that with Kimi, you knew that he meant every word of it. That is why the team were so happy, because they are now aware of him and understand that he never just pays lip service – it was absolutely straight from the heart.
Q: McLaren’s appeal of the Brazilian result left the championship open for almost four weeks. How did he cope during that period?
DR: Well when you know Kimi, you know that he has this very unique philosophy and that is that he never worries about anything that he can not change and that is another of his great strengths. I remember reading a book about how to stop worrying and start living and I thought after I had known him for a very short time that he could have written that book himself. It just comes naturally to him.
Q: Kimi – and his alias James Hunt – occasionally enjoy some wild times. How much do you try to control that? Do you trust that as a professional he knows the limits?
DR: Once again, thanks to the press, things get quoted wrongly and then a lifestyle emerges that is, to say the least, a little way from the truth. The fact is, he is a young man and does like a party. But never, and I mean never, has he let it interfere with the job that he does. He, like the pro that he is, always makes sure that he is in good condition to deliver at testing and during race weekends. I have never had to go to him – we trust him totally. When he competed in that race over the winter on the snowmobiles, he used the alias of James Hunt to get rid of the press, but I’m sure that if he does that this year he will get mobbed.