13 Questions to Kimi from Top Gear
Q: How old were you when you first became interested in cars / speed / racing?
Kimi Räikkönen: Right from when I was very little, I was interested in anything that had an engine. If I had not become a driver, I would certainly have been a mechanic.
Q: Growing up, which drivers do you remember watching and who were you impressed by?
KR: I never had a hero or an idol. My friends tell me I should have raced in the Seventies when maybe Formula 1 was less formal and I would definitely like to have known James Hunt.
Q: When did you think you might become pretty good yourself and why?
KR: That’s not for me to say. I always wanted to be a racing driver and I gave it everything I had to do that. From then on, it’s my results that speak for me.
Q: Wouldn’t it make sense if all testing was banned? More time for snowmobiling, less expensive for the teams and still the same for everybody!
KR: No, I’d be asked to spend more time on the simulator! But joking aside, I think the current situation is pretty well balanced. We don’t test as much as we used to a few years back and we work more efficiently.
Q: But that’s unlikely, so what do you find most useful about testing, personally?
KR: I just love driving a Formula 1 car, which means I even like testing.
Q: While you’re testing and racing, how aware are you of the part you play in helping develop new technologies, like Shell V-Power, for example?
KR: In a sport as finely honed as Formula 1, where the difference between first and last is measured in tenths of a second, you have to push to the limits in terms of car development, in all areas. As far as the engine is concerned, we are currently in a particularly special stage, where development on certain components is frozen for a few years. This means we can have a fuel or an engine oil that gives us a few horsepower more, a gearbox oil that improves lubrication and makes such an important component more reliable and that is a really vital point.
Q: What was your most satisfying Grand Prix win ever?
KR: Hard to say as all the wins are great. Of course, the first one and the one in Interlagos last year which meant I was world champion will always stay with me.
Q: What were your main reasons for joining Ferrari from McLaren?
KR: Simply a desire to change after so many years with the same team. I felt comfortable at McLaren, just as I feel comfortable at Ferrari. The two teams are different because of their different character, but both share a common desire to get the very best results.
Q: Is Ferrari just another team for you or does the immense history and list of its previous great drivers ever cross your mind? Does Ferrari feel different in this way?
KR: There is definitely a special atmosphere at Maranello and you can feel the special appeal of a marque that is part of racing history. It’s nice and I’m proud to be part of this history.
Q: Many fans don’t understand how much the driver does during a race. Can you talk us through some of the things you have to do while racing – brake adjustments, driving around problems etc…
KR: That’s true, from the outside it is difficult to understand all the details of what happens on track. First and foremost there is so much work that one does along with the engineers when the car is in the garage: defining the set-up, the day’s work programme, strategies. Then, when you are sitting in the cockpit, there are so many parameters you can control: the brake balance, some engine and electrical parameters, the gearbox. Then there are unexpected situations such as the arrival of the safety car and specific moments that require you to go through complex programmes such as the start. This year, with the introduction of a standard electronic control unit, there are slightly less things to do, but next year, new parameters will come into play, such as the electronic control of the flap on the front wing and the boost switches linked to the energy accumulated through the KERS system.
Q: What makes a great driver, in your view?
KR: In the end what matters are the result, but one has to take into account that in the current Formula 1, the car remains the dominant factor. Without a competitive car, you can’t win, no matter how talented you are.
Q: What’s the best thing about your job?
KR: Driving and racing to win – there’s nothing else.
Q: And the worst?
KR: Speaking in public? Honestly, it’s not a strong point of mine, but I know it’s part of my job and I have to accept it as such.