Poles, podiums, wins, a world title; Kimi Räikkönen has been there, and done it all in Formula 1. Now he’s back for more with Lotus, and hungrier than ever as he returns to the venue of his grand prix debut in 2000 – Melbourne, Australia. The Iceman looks ahead to the season opener and the year ahead.
What are your objectives on your return to Formula 1 with Lotus F1 Team?
I will try to do as well as I can and see where we end up. For the first race in Australia we want to have a good weekend without any major issues or mistakes. I don’t know where we’re going to be on the grid – nobody knows. If you look at the lap times from testing everybody is very close to each other. We don’t know what everyone was doing with fuel load and that makes a massive difference. We’ll have some idea after practice in Melbourne, then after qualifying everyone will know exactly where we are.
How do you feel with the team now you have been working with them in testing?
I feel very happy with the team. We’re still learning things, but everything is going smoothly and there are no problems at all, so it’s a good position to start the season.
Testing was interrupted, and you’re making a return after two seasons away. How prepared do you feel?
You always wish you had more days to prepare but it’s the situation we have and you just have to deal with it. In the first week in Jerez we had pretty good running and no major reliability issues with the car – which is a good thing. We only had one problem at the second test in Barcelona – and we fixed that and it won’t be an issue again. Now we just have to get everything at a level where we are happy and make sure I press the right buttons at the right times. Maybe a few more days would have done no harm but I’m very confident that we’ll get it right when the time comes.
Is there a lot to learn with a new team, new regulations and a new car?
It’s still racing and more is the same as before than has changed. With the DRS and the KERS they are just buttons to press. In testing, sometimes you press it too late or too early but it’s not going to change an awful lot. Pit stops are a bit shorter than before but nothing really different; you stop the car and then you go.
Do you have any idea where you hope to be on the grid in Australia?
We might be last and we might be first – let’s see when we get there.
What do you think of your teammate Romain Grosjean?
He’s a nice guy. I didn’t know him before, we’d raced against each other a few times but never really spoken. He’s a bit younger than me, but also for him it’s a long time since he raced in Formula 1 so we’ll see. I think he’ll be good and I’m fine with working with him.
How much are you looking forward to racing in Formula 1 again?
Everybody wants to race. If you ask the test drivers: they want to race. Racing is the thing that people like. I don’t think that anyone will tell you that testing is more fun than racing. Of course I think that racing has changed a bit since I was last in it with the overtaking, but it’s not a completely different sport. It will be exciting and whoever gets the best out of the tyres will probably be in a strong position.
Do you have personal goals for the season?
No. We’ll see where we are in the first races and go from there. We’ll do the best we can and the best with the car.
You’ve had some good races in Australia – is it good to be starting the year there?
Australia is a nice place even though it’s a long way from Europe. The circuit itself is not the most difficult on the calendar. It was good to score a point on my first time at Albert Park, and the podiums and race win in 2007 obviously made me happy. The circuit hasn’t changed at all so I’m confident I know where it goes…
Do you think Albert Park could suit the E20?
You need a car with good traction and everything from testing says that the E20 has good traction so that will help us. Strong turn-in and stable braking help too, and those areas also feel good with the car so we are well placed. The track can be a bit slippery at the beginning of the weekend and the Melbourne weather is not always very warm; the Melbourne weather can definitely be a bit tricky. This will be the first race so I don’t know how we’ll compare to the other teams. My engineers have been running simulations and looking at the test data so we have an idea of how the car should work at Albert Park, but we won’t know for sure until we get out on track. It’s very difficult to say before we’ve been out on track, but I think and hope we’ll be reasonably strong.
Source: Lotus F1
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