Iceman Kimi Räikkönen


Seiska’s reporter tells: This is what Kimi Räikkönen is like for real!

Seiska’s reporter Panu Hörkkö visited Kimi Räikkönen at his home and he was surprised – positively.

When I drove on Feb 3rd from Helsinki to Kimi Räikkönen’s villa in Porkkala I had butterflies in my stomach. I had actually had them ever since the night before and Kimi even visited in my few hours dream to be honest. So the unconsciousness pulled cruel tricks on me. I was however about to meet Kimi for the first time and I had heard that he hates reporters. I wondered which one of us is more troubled with the meeting – the one who was going to be interviewed or the interviewer?

Kimi’s expression was something completely different from what I had expected!
When the photographer and I arrived to Porkkala we were greeted by Riku Kuvaja. He informed in his kind way that he would go and walk around the villa with the photographer and I could soon interview Kimi in peace. Soon after that the glass door opened and a beanie-headed Kimi came out to shake hands with me. I immediately saw an expression on Kimi’s face that I hadn’t seen in one single magazine or TV-interview earlier. Kimi was unbelievably laidback and frankly put charming, if a man can say so about another man. Kimi’s boyishness and grinning continued all through our 3-hours meeting and the ice broke easily in the Iceman’s cave. Kimi answered my questions in a laidback way and used his witty sense of humour. His laughter was catching and the atmosphere was warm. As an example I could mention my question “How tough steam-man are you?” Kimi replied in his personal way: “I like to go to a sauna but just the normal steams. No Sauna-Timo-business for sure,” Kimi said. It wasn’t pretending from his side, I can say based upon my life experience that Kimi is genuinely a laidback person – and modest too on top of that – unlike many “heroes” I have met.

Lacking speaking skills, they say!
After we left the villa I could only think that dammit, that guy just hates cameras just like probably 99% of Finnish men also hate! Next F1-season I am going to concentrate on following only Kimi and his grips in Lotus. The guy did after all set the fastest laptime in Jerez testing! I will leave in their own league those who nag about Kimi’s poor skills of commenting or posing. Afterall I know myself that we Finns have an exceptionally charming hero in this man. And a man can say this about another man. Good luck to the upcoming season, Kimi!

Exclusive Q&A with Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen

After two days back in the cockpit, two things are clear – Formula One has missed Kimi Raikkonen and Kimi Raikkonen has missed Formula One. Yes, the niggles which drove him to rallying two years ago are still there, but – for now – the 2012-spec ‘Iceman’ seems suitably chilled. Another thing that hasn’t changed is his pace, which he proved in style on the opening day of this week’s Jerez test by setting the fastest time for Lotus. Raikkonen discusses progress…

Q: You clocked the best time on day one at Jerez. Was it because of a magic car or a magic Kimi?
Kimi Raikkonen: Ha, I don’t really know. On the first day the car was good, but I have to say that on the second day it was even better. If it only set the fifth-best time then it was down to the fact that we tried different things. But, for sure, coming back to the real Formula One world and immediately doing the best time on the first day of testing was not bad. It was a nice warm feeling for the ego. But, of course, to really classify what the time was worth you would need to know what program everybody else was running on. And don’t we all know that the times only really matter when we are in a real race? So, yes, it was nice, but don’t overestimate things! (laughs)

Q: So you feel comfortable in the car…
KR: Well, there are moments when the handling is easier than at other moments, but overall I am pretty happy with the car. Sure, there is always room for improvement, but I would say that it was not a bad start for Lotus and myself. At the moment the magic word is mileage – for all three of us: the team, the tyres and me.

Q: You did 117 laps on the second day. Did you start to feel it? Nothing compares to the G-forces when you drive a Formula One car…
KR: No, there were no problems whatsoever. That is why you exercise before.

Q: Topping the timesheets must have reassured you that after two years away you hadn’t lost it?
KR: To be honest it never entered my mind that I could have lost it. I knew when I drove the old car in Valencia that I would be okay. I could feel it immediately. Of course there isn’t 100 percent certainty, but it is coming close to that.

Q: When you left F1 for rallying you spoke about the monotony – the same tracks, the same hotels, the same people, and the same questions…
KR: …and nothing has changed. And believe me, I didn’t expect any change! (laughs) Sure, from that aspect rallying is much nicer, but that is a part of Formula One and if you want to race in this category you have to accept all aspects of it.

Q: So despite all these downsides you found Formula One so exciting that you came back?
KR: I found the racing so exciting. I missed the racing. And it is a fact that Formula One is the highest form of racing. So you would rather take it than leave it.

Q: Is it fair to say that driving a Formula One car is the best thing you can do with your life?
KR: Oh, I am sure there are more things that you can do in your life.

Q: But on a professional level…
KR: As I just said, if you want to compete at the highest level of racing you have to race in F1. That is what I enjoy. All the side affects you have to accept for the benefit of racing at the top level.

Q: You probably also missed winning…
KR: I don’t know if you miss winning, but of course every sound person would rather win than lose! (laughs) But it is not often that you can win all the time. It’s not that I’ve got used to winning.

Q: The team had a tough time last year but for you – in F1 – it’s been some time since you’ve raced a car not capable of winning a Grand Prix. Is that a worry?
KR: Ah, I didn’t have an outright winner of a car for many years. I would say that in 2009 I didn’t exactly have a winning car and people seem to forget that so easily. And how often do you win? Okay, I had some good wins in Formula One, but if you compare that with how long I have been in Formula One, then I haven’t won so often. But that is obviously part of a career.

Q: When did the idea of returning really take shape?
KR: That was during the summer when I was doing some NASCAR races. I enjoyed that direct fight with competitors again, the wheel-to-wheel fight. I realised that I was missing it. In rallying you also race against people, but not physically, and it was that physical aspect that I really missed. After that realisation, I spoke to my managers and they started to sort things out for me.

Q: Why didn’t the negotiations with Williams work out?
KR: We simply didn’t find a solution that would satisfy both sides. You know how it is – one side wants something and the other something else, so you drift apart. That’s how it goes sometimes in life. And sometimes the bad comes good. I am very happy where I am now.

Q: Lotus team Principal Eric Boullier said that when he told the team that you were joining it immediately boosted morale. Did you expect you would ever be a morale booster?
KR: I know that the team had a tough year last season, but they have great people and so far it has been a good experience joining them. I hope we can have a good experience together in the months to come – and that will be an even bigger morale boost! If you ask me what my goal is for this season then the answer is that I don’t know. You must wait until the first couple of races and then I will probably be able to give a hint.

Q: During your two-year sabbatical you didn’t once attend a Grand Prix. Why?
KR: Well, I went to Monaco twice, but not to see the cars, only for business. And if you want to see cars properly – as someone like me, who is really interested in how the cars change, does – then you come to a test. And if you want to see the race then you see it on TV.

Q: Do you think anything significant has changed over the last two years?
KR: Not really, except for the tyres and having a different manufacturer for the tyres. The cars haven’t changed too much and everything else is business as usual.


Kimi Raikkonen pleased with early findings after first comeback test

Kimi Raikkonen says he has the answers he was looking for from his first experience of the new Lotus E20 after completing 180 laps during two days’ testing at Jerez.

The Finn did not match his pace from the opening day of the test, where he hit the headlines by going quickest of all. But Raikkonen declared himself satisfied by what he learned from the car and Pirelli’s tyres. He now hands over to team-mate Romain Grosjean for the final two days of the test. “I think the main thing was to get a lot of mileage right now,” said the 2007 world champion when asked by AUTOSPORT for his summary of the test. “The car feels pretty OK straightaway, and I think we improved it today, but today the conditions were a bit trickier than yesterday. “I’m happy with what we did over the two days.” Raikkonen added that the starting point for the E20 appeared to be positive when he could get the Pirelli tyres in a good operating window, as he continued his education process with the Italian rubber. “Some compounds worked better than others,” he said. “When they are new they are always good but once they get used… and it was quite cold so some of them were slightly better than others.

“But when they worked the car feels quite good so… I have no idea what the others are doing but I was quite happy about how things went. If the conditions are good for that compound and they get heat in them it seems to be fine but then some of them don’t like it when it’s cold and the tyre just doesn’t work,” he continued. “But when they work normally it’s not too bad, at least here, but it can be a really different story in Barcelona.” Raikkonen had a couple of off-track moments during his second day in the car and was delayed in the morning when he ran over a kerb and damaged the plank under the chassis – which then needed to be replaced. “I ran wide under braking for Turn 6, and just driving back in the gravel the edge of the kerb on the circuit was very high and it hit the front of the floor and we damaged that,” he explained. “So it took a while to fix it. Unfortunate.”


Raikkonen to reunite with former McLaren engineer

Kimi Raikkonen will have a familiar race engineer for his return to Formula 1 this year. Finnish reports in Turun Sanomat and the television broadcaster MTV3 claim that the 2007 world champion will work with Mark Slade.

Slade, recently at Mercedes GP working alongside Michael Schumacher, was Raikkonen’s race engineer at McLaren years ago. Slade also previously worked as a race engineer to Mika Hakkinen and Heikki Kovalainen. Raikkonen will start working together with his engineer at Barcelona at the last test before Melbourne. “I wanted him and I am pleased that it worked out,” Raikkonen confirmed. In other news, Eric Boullier has denied rumours Raikkonen is a shareholder in the Lotus team. It was reported that the 2007 world champion’s retainer this year was subsidized by owner Genii granting the returning F1 driver a small slice of the Enstone based team. “He has no shareholding. It is complete nonsense,” Boullier is quoted by MTV3. “Raikkonen has a two-year contract as driver,” he added. “Genii Capital holds 100 per cent of the team.” Boullier also dismissed suggestions Raikkonen, whose teammate is the reigning GP2 champion Romain Grosjean, is Lotus’ obvious number one driver. “There is no such thing in the contract,” he said.


Lotus’s Eric Boullier: Kimi is like an icy rock

He may be two years older and wearing different overalls as he strides through the Jerez paddock, but it almost feels as if Kimi Raikkonen has never been away from the Formula One fold. And after impressing during the opening day of pre-season testing, Raikkonen appears to be in fine form in the Lotus too. Team principal Eric Boullier discusses how the Finn is settling in…

Q: Back in November Raikkonen didn’t seem to be on your agenda but then not long after you made an announcement. When did you first start talking to him about joining the team?
Eric Boullier: Well, the first talks started just after Abu Dhabi and we closed the deal in less than ten days. It all went very quickly! Just before that we were evaluating internally which driver we wanted to recruit and we only wanted to share those discussions within the team. Then we contacted Kimi – and it was done! Obviously his negotiations with Williams were going nowhere but he wanted to be back in Formula One. So it was the right time and the right situation. Clearly money was not the point. He liked the package that we offered and that was it.

Q: Did it help that he would be driving for a team with such an iconic name?
EB: I am not so sure that this played any role in his reasoning, but then of course it is better to drive for an iconic name than a ‘no-name’. I think that the key motivation for him was the feedback that he got from the team. We are not a marketing machine – we are a race team! I am not blaming anybody in the pit lane, but we are more a racing family than a machine. And he started to feel very comfortable with our crew after he realised that we are racing people!

Q: You said that the absence of Robert Kubica after his accident was the biggest blow to the team last season. Will Raikkonen help fill the void?
EB: Right away – yes! Because in terms of team morale and motivation – and even team guidance – he is there, because he is a guy that knows what he wants. I promise you he is committed and, as I just said, he knows what he wants.

Q: What is it that you expect from the ‘Iceman’? His reputation precedes him but after two years away will he struggle?
EB: I know already that he is not struggling.

Q: Is that after his running on the opening day of this week’s test?
EB: Yes – I have seen how he has been driving. Without even looking at the times, you can see from the line that he was cruising around the track on and how he uses the car. I am sure that he will need some time to find the last tweaks to be 100 per cent sure, but believe me, he is there!

Q: How much time will it take until he is back at the performance level of a race winner?
EB: He will be a potential race winner if we give him an adequate car. Obviously this is the package that he needs to have. My guess is that at the beginning of the European ‘season’ he will be ready.

Q: You needed a big name to join the team in its first season as Lotus and Raikkonen needed a drive as he wanted to return to Formula One racing. The pressure is on for both sides, which could prove explosive. Are you ready for it?
EB: Do you know any world championship contender – either team or driver – that was not explosive? And I don’t really see it as explosive in any way. Sure, for a team named Lotus it is a benefit having a big name. It’s a perfect match because we were looking for somebody with his background, experience, charisma and speed, but he also was looking for a team to join to make a good return into Formula One. And the match is working. Obviously we all don’t know right now how it will develop, but from what we have experienced over the last weeks we can be positive. Nothing can be worse than what we have experienced in the past. Let’s take it easy.

Q: The team’s 2011 season started with an absent star driver, a replacement who struggled and a driver in just his second season. The team’s 2012 season starts with a driver who hasn’t been in the sport for two years and a virtual rookie in Romain Grosjean. What did you learn last year that could help this year?
EB: What a tricky question! You never know how people will develop. Sometimes you believe it will be a perfect fit – and it is not – and sometimes the unexpected comes your way and it becomes the missing link which in turn produces a sharp step forward. In the end it all boils down to the human combinations. The fit between you and other people. And then comes the performance of the car, the team’s performance and everything else that makes a Formula One team tick. Robert’s accident was completely unexpected and from there we had to react. I have to say I believe that we were still doing well under those circumstances. But strategy-wise, I am happy that Genii has kept their faith in the team and they are going with us down another path, as I now believe that this is the path that we always wanted to take.

Q: Romain Grosjean’s first experience of Formula One racing was tough. How can you help?
EB: In 2009 he replaced a driver without any testing at all to take over a car that was not easy to drive for a team that was completely focused on Fernando Alonso. He was not ready and he was not given a real chance. When he came to see me 15 months ago to discuss his future I told him that he had to recover first as a driver. He had lost confidence and had to rebuild, so I sent him racing in many different categories to get his feet on the ground again and to improve his reputation in Enstone again. He’d won every category that he had ever raced in and then his career spiralled when he got his Formula One chance. In 2011, as well as winning the GP2 title, he was our reserve driver which was a role that didn’t come with any pressure but allowed him to gain back the trust from the engineers in our factory. And little by little he did it and the practice session he took part in last season helped him regain that respect. It will not be easy for him alongside Kimi, who is fast and a strong character, but Romain has to be ready. This is not a nursery and if you want to survive and be successful you have to fight. Kimi is not the political person that Fernando was, but Kimi is like a rock – an icy rock – so don’t expect any warmth!

Q: Force India almost caught you in the constructors’ standings. This year they are aiming to take fifth place from you…
EB: There are too many maybes and ifs! Yes, they were almost catching us at the end. We know why and have learnt from that. So let the past be the past. Of course we are focusing on breaking into the top four now – like we should have done last year if it had been the year that we had planned. Sure the forward exhausts were brave – possibly too brave – but that was all in 2011.

Q: Raikkonen is spending the first two days of this test in the car. What has his feedback been like so far?
EB: Kimi is very confident and he is very happy with the car, its balance and handling. We are heading into a long test programme that hopefully will bring some satisfaction in Melbourne for all of us. The chemistry is already working well.


Raikkonen says DRS is ridiculous

Returnee Kimi Raikkonen has revealed he is no fan of Formula 1′s DRS (Drag Reduction System concept.

The former world champion was busy in the world rally series last year when formula one introduced the moveable rear wing system, designed to boost overtaking. Having skipped the 2010 season entirely on television, Raikkonen began to watch some grands prix last year when his thirst for circuit racing returned. “The way the DRS wings work is for me a little ridiculous,” he admitted to Auto Motor und Sport. “Overtaking is not really a great art anymore. You just put the wing down and go past easily,” said the 32-year-old. “The guy in front can’t really do anything. But I agree that at least it makes the show better,” added Raikkonen.

He admitted that his brief stint in American Nascar racing last year rekindled his love for wheel-to-wheel. “I realised how much I was missing it,” said the former McLaren and Ferrari driver. “That doesn’t mean I am sick of rallying; actually I’d like to do both but that’s not possible. But if you want to race and you have the choice, first you look at formula one,” he added. Raikkonen was the fastest of all when 2012 testing kicked off at Jerez on Tuesday, insisting he is not fazed at the prospect of returning after two years away. “For me it’s easier to get used to the (Pirelli) tyres than it was for the others a year ago. For me it’s more like a new beginning.” As for the refuelling ban, which came in last year, Raikkonen insists: “That’s no big deal — the pitstop is just a little shorter. Driving with the heavier car is not like day and night; it’s still the same sport. There’s just a few more buttons to push on the steering wheel.”


Raikkonen explains car damage

Kimi Raikkonen says that he damaged the floor of his Lotus on Wednesday morning after running off the track under braking.

Raikkonen was in the car for a second consecutive day having set the fastest time of Tuesday’s running, but caused an early red flag when he left gravel on the circuit having run wide. Raikkonen confirmed that he outbraked himself in the windy conditions, but then said that he damaged the car even further when rejoining the track. “I ran wide under braking in turn six,” he said. “And just driving back from the gravel to the circuit the edge of the kerb was very high so it hit the front of the floor and we damaged that so it took a while to fix it. So an unfortunate thing but it happens. “For sure it was more tricky than yesterday, in some corners it was quite bad because of the wind. We tried to put more laps on the car and only worry about that, but condition wise it was better yesterday.

Despite that excursion, Raikkonen said that he was satisfied with what he had achieved during his two days in the E20. “Yeah, I think more or less. I think the main thing is to get a lot of mileage, that’s the main thing right now. The car feels pretty OK straight away; I think we improved it today but today the conditions were probably a bit more tricky than yesterday so I’m happy with what we did in two days. It was a lot to do today with if the tyres worked or not. Some compounds work better than others and when they are new all of the tyres are good, but once they get used – and it was quite cold – some of them work slightly better. But when they work the car feels quite good so … I have no idea what the others are doing, but I was quite happy.”


Kimi Räikkönen about Day 1 at Jerez Test

Kimi Raikkonen says that topping the first day of pre-season testing means less to him than the ‘positive’ first sensations he received from the new Lotus E20 and Pirelli’s soft and medium tyre compounds that he tried for the first time at Jerez.

The 2007 world champion played down his headline-grabbing fastest time at the Spanish circuit after ending up 0.1s faster than Paul di Resta’s Force India, having completed 73 laps on a relatively trouble-free day. “It makes no difference,” he said when asked how it felt to be quickest on his return to contemporary F1 action. “I mean it’s the first day, and it would make a difference if it were a race weekend, but here it means nothing.” But the Finn said that the information he gained using 2012-spec equipment and proper race tyres – as opposed to the demo rubber he had used prior to Tuesday’s official running – was hugely valuable as he continued to reacclimatise to the sport. “The feeling is pretty OK with the car and for sure I’ve had much worse first days and worse feelings with new cars,” he added. “I was quite happy with it.” “The feeling was pretty good with the car. The first feeling is handling quite nicely so… just going with that feeling I’m quite happy, but there are areas that we can improve and that we have to improve. I’m positive about it.” Raikkonen completed 60 laps before the team broke for lunch, and during that morning he completed four stints culminating in a 1m19.670s lap – faster than Rubens Barrichello’s best overall time of 2011.

And while Lotus’s afternoon was interrupted by the need to change a KERS battery, Raikkonen said he was pleased with the ground he had covered on the first day. “I did exactly what the team were planning, or not exactly because we missed a few laps when we had a small issue,” he said. “We tried different things, we did a few checks. “But we did also quite a lot of the normal things you have to do on a first day yesterday, so that was a help to get rid of those. But it was a pretty normal first day.” Raikkonen added that he had been pleased with how the tyres had felt: “They are what they are and you try to get the best out of them. “When they are new they seem to be pretty nice tyres. Of course they probably go away more than in the past, but it’s the same for everybody and in a long run you try to save them as much as you can and get the best out of it.”


Video Interview with Kimi:

Michael Schumacher very happy Kimi Raikkonen is back in F1 this year

Michael Schumacher says he is very happy to have Kimi Raikkonen back in Formula 1, after the Finn completed a perfect comeback to testing on Tuesday.

Seven-time champion Schumacher last raced against Raikkonen in 2006, before the German retired from the sport. Raikkonen, who finished second to Schumacher in the 2003 season, is back in F1 this year after a two-year hiatus, racing for the Lotus team. “I’m happy for him, very happy for him,” said Schumacher at the end of the day at Jerez, where Raikkonen was quickest. “It is the first day and let’s see at the end of the three days (Sic) and then we can make a proper judgement of what those times were worth. But I am really happy for the team and for him.” He added: “It’s great to have so many world champions on the grid. It is going to be a good show for all of us.”