Interview before France 2007
I guess it goes to show you have changed in recent times.
KR: Have I?
Six years of Formula 1 changes everyone.
KR: Not me. I continue to like the things that I liked six years ago: I enjoy myself with friends playing ice hockey. The difference now is that I don ’t have so much free time to do it anymore.
Looking at what certain newspapers write, maybe it ‘s better this way.
KR: Some papers are full of nonsense. Thank God I don ’t read much.
Have you ever thought of changing your attitude?
KR: I can’t change my life depending on what people like and what they don’t. Even more, on certain papers. I will continue to do what I love.
You talk as if your life is difficult.
KR: Well, it’s not all fun walking out of your house and seeing loads of people looking for sensational stories. But, I cannot call myself unlucky, obviously.
Do you see racing as a way to escape from that?
KR: It’s one of the reasons why I’ve always wanted to be a driver. When you go in the car and drive, stop and talk with the engineers, the rest of the world stays outside. The only thing that counts is going fast.
But, at McLaren Ron Dennis was watching things closely and kept things tight.
KR: Yes, but it’s normal for a boss to ask how things go exactly and where people that are working for him go. I have never felt surpressed. I just pushed my day forward, fighting in the way I liked. Of course, I could not be seen as a classic McLaren driver because of that. But when you let your head down you’re in trouble with Ron.
Have you ever feared that you could lose this independence going to Ferrari?
KR: It hasn’t happened. On the contrary, at Ferrari I’ve immediately understood that I have my freedom. The team has welcomed me very well, I feel well, everyone helps me in a constructive way and the atmosphere is how I like it: very friendly. Believe me, I haven’t found any difficulties in becoming part of the team.
You haven’t impressed in the way the fans expected you to.
KR: I am the first to be dissapointed. But there are logical explanations, I haven’t simply unlearned how to drive during winter. All the problems are technically related: learning how to drive the Bridgestone tyres, the way the tyres influenced the regulations. And then some driver mistakes of course.
What is so difficult using the tyres?
KR: That you can’t find the limit, you don’t understand it, as long as you don’t push to the limit and stay on track. It’s a matter of getting used to it, but I will.
Do you need more time?
KR: At the moment I feel very well within the team. Also now the team had to reorganize with new people in new roles. But we’ve only made mistakes in a couple of races. It’s enough to have two races spot on to be back in the game.
So you think you can still win the championship?
KR: I will try it. I can’t imagine McLaren reaching the end of the year without a technical problem.
Is it a big advantage to have your teammate in front of you?
KR: I wouldn’t say so. Massa and I work well together.
If you remained with McLaren you might have led the championship now.
KR: I don’t think about that a lot. I am with Ferrari and don’t regret that. I wanted to change myself, I ’m happy to have done so. I knew very well that the two teams were at the same level. And that every once in two years McLaren is able to build a very fast car. I didn’t expect anything else than what has happened. Apart from a few results from my part.
And still, at McLaren there are people that say you would be faster than Senna, at Ferrari there are people that say you would be faster than Schumacher.
KR: I’m honored. But it’s not so unlikely to be the fastest and still lose. Success depends on a number of factors, the start of the season for instance.
The season has started better for Hamilton than for anyone else. Don’t you think it’s incredible a rookie does so well?
KR: He’s good. He started in an ideal situation, in an ideal year. Had he made his debut in 2006, he would have suffered. He has been testing a lot on the tyres we use now and hardly did any testing with the Michelins. It doesn’t happen normally with rookies but McLaren is a first class team and their car is very strong. No, it’s not incredible.
Have you ever heard someone in the team say: ‘Michael would have done it like this, Michael behaved in a different way’?
KR: No. The past is the past. I have my staff and I discuss the car and the races with the engineers that belong to me. Schumacher talks more with Felipe than with me. But it’s not a factor that has influence on my race results. From my part, I don’t even tell that I did ‘this and did that’ at McLaren.
Is it true that whenever friends come to visit you at your house in Switzerland, you can never resist to challenge them for whatever, be it swimming, karting, cycling?
KR: It’s true. The visit is a lot more fun this way.
Have you ever thought about having children?
KR: Certainly, even more than one. I love children. But it’s not the right moment for it. I want to be a serious father and as long as I fly from one capital of the world to another, that is not possible.
Will you learn Italian one day?
KR: I really hope so, but I am not rushing it. It’s a beautiful language but very difficult. I’ve always played hockey, you know. Being behind books for hours, it’s horrible.
What if you lose the championship? What about next year then?
KR: Next year will be a completely different story. New rules, no traction control. A different story.
Better or worse?
KR: More fun I suppose. And perhaps better for the drivers as there is a greater chance to make the difference. In case you have a good car obviously.
Once you’ve taken part in a race and won on snowmobiles under the name of James Hunt. Why was that?
KR: Maybe because I’m born in the wrong century. Had I been a driver many years ago, I wouldn’t be in the spotlights, my life would have been a lot easier.