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.
Häkkinen doesn’t approve Permane’s behavior – Was Kimi ‘paid back’?
Mika Häkkinen believes that the knowledge of Kimi Räikkönen’s switch to Ferrari affected Alan Permane’s behavior in India.
Permane screamed and cursed to Kimi Räikkönen when Kimi didn’t immediately let Romain Grosjean past him in India.
– Alan Permane’s behavior was really not smart or correct. In those teams I have raced the team radio messages have always been understood without any cursing, Häkkinen writes in his column in Ilta-Sanomat.
– I understand that the emotions can come to play when a long and difficult race is about to end, but cursing and screaming only make the situation worse.
Later on Permane and Räikkönen continued their harsh discussion on the paddock.
– Sometimes people hold something against other people. Kimi has snapped all kinds of things to the team during the season, so maybe Permane thought that he will now pay him back.
– Maybe he could have controlled himself better if he didn’t know Kimi was changing teams.
Häkkinen has a clear opinion about Räikkönen’s driving – Did Kimi do the right thing?
– Lotus-team’s operation in India looked quite stupid. The situation where Romain Grosjean tried to overtake Kimi should have been handled better, Häkkinen writes.
Räikkönen didn’t let Grosjean immediately past since his tyres were pretty much worn out. After that there was a heated discussion containing swearing words between Räikkönen and Alan Permane.
– I understand Kimi. If he had made room for Grosjean in the fast corner then his tyres would had been in an even worse condition. Kimi would easily had lost 3-4 seconds before getting his pace back again.
– Kimi was thinking just like every experienced driver thinks. If he had let Grosjean past in the wrong place, then someone else could also had passed him – and Felipe Massa was very close.
– Why was the team’s language exceptionally harsh towards Kimi and why didn’t the team give him earlier information about how close Grosjean was? One could also aslk why Grosjean had to go so greedily for the overtake that tyres clashed, Häkkinen writes.
Manager dumbstruck over the way Räikkönen was treated
Steve Robertson sighed deeply on the phone even on Tuesday. You could hear his sigh from Dubai to Turku when he was asked how he felt about Alan Permane’s public cursing in the team radio when drivers battled for positions in the overtaking situation.
– I have never heard any person from any team management shout at Kimi like that, Robertson wonders.
– Grosjean squeezed Kimi the same way three weeks earlier in Korea. Of course his tyres were now worn out, but Kimi always tries to fight for as long as his machinery allows him to do that, Robertson said.
Some reporter colleagues asked me after India if Räikkönen only drives for himself without listening to anyone.
I asked his manager the same question.
– Just like all top drivers Kimi drives firstly and mostly for himself – otherwise none of them would win championships. But of course Kimi can play for the team. If his teammate drives for the championship when he is out of it already, then he doesn’t make his WDC-battle difficult.
– Grosjean is not driving for the WDC, so in that sistuation he was just like any other competitor to Kimi who threathens his position, Robertson told TS.
Bouillier’s apology and Mika Häkkinen’s words (already translated)
Lopez tips Raikkonen to agree to new Lotus deal
Team owner Gerard Lopez is hopeful Kimi Raikkonen will soon sign a new deal to stay at Lotus in 2014.
As a weekend of fever-pitch speculation nears an end, the Finnish driver’s manager Steve Robertson has now clearly denied rumours Raikkonen has inked a Ferrari contract.
"It’s a load of rubbish," he told the broadcaster MTV3.
"We are in the same place as we were a month ago in Hungary — we do not have an agreement," Robertson insisted.
MTV3 claims Raikkonen staying at Lotus next year is backed by F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, who wants as many top drivers as possible spread across all the top teams.
So if Raikkonen stays put, Ecclestone thinks McLaren with Jenson Button, Mercedes with Lewis Hamilton, Ferrari with Fernando Alonso and Red Bull with Sebastian Vettel is an ideal situation for the sport.
Raikkonen hinted on Friday that one pertinent issue is the fact Lotus has often been late to pay wages.
But according to another rumour in Belgium, also crucial to Raikkonen staying next year could be a deal that brings engine supplier Renault – marginalised at Red Bull due to the Infiniti deal – closer to Lotus.
That would tie into speculation Raikkonen has demanded certain ‘guarantees’ about Lotus’ competitiveness in 2014.
"We do not need to give any guarantees," Lopez insists. "We are very competitive.
"Rather, the question is about next season. We are very close to reaching an agreement with Renault.
"I believe that we have very good chances. We’ve done a good job to give Kimi what he wants."
And, ultimately, he thinks that when the time is right, sitting down with a new contract and Raikkonen will be a straightforward matter.
"We already talk a lot," said Lopez. "As long as we are able to give him what he wants and we can react calmly, I believe we can reach an agreement quickly."
Lotus remains convinced Kimi Raikkonen will stay on for F1 2014
Lotus still remains convinced that Kimi Raikkonen will stay at the team next year, despite the speculation linking him with both Red Bull and Ferrari.
Raikkonen had held talks with Red Bull, but the team looks almost certain to hand its second seat to its junior driver Daniel Ricciardo.
Ferrari is also currently considering whether or not to replace Felipe Massa, and Raikkonen is understood to be on a shortlist of candidates.
Lotus, however, remains Raikkonen’s preferred option – and his manager said last week that if the Enstone-based team can give the former champion the assurances he wants then he will commit to a fresh deal.
Eric Boullier, the Lotus team boss, admitted he was still optimistic that Raikkonen will stay on board, even though a major financial deal with investment partner Infinity Racing is taking longer to finalise than originally anticipated.
When asked if he was still confident Raikkonen would be at Lotus in 2014, Boullier said: "Yes I am. He loves this team, he likes to be here and he likes the environment.
"But you need to be rational: we have to sort out the strength of the team financially and there is a technical challenge we face for next year.
"It is still up in the air, but as soon as we know we can deliver what he wants then we will obviously sit down."
NO CONCERNS ABOUT INFINITY DEAL
Although progress on concluding the Infinity deal has been slow, Boullier thinks that such complications are to be expected when a team like Lotus aims to put in place such big partnerships.
"There was an effort in this team before to compete at the highest level, and you need to establish another strategy to reach that step," he said.
"It is like playing in the Premier League and fighting for some wins against going for a top three position. If you want to consistently be like Manchester United then you need another level of investment and commitment.
"This is what we are working for, and this is why we are working on getting stronger.
"We have solved most of the issues now, but we expect for Monza to get the deal completely done."