Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Räikkönen's Lotus-time starts from Friday's Christmas-party

Two years and 29 days ago Kimi Räikkönen drove his last F1-race in Abu Dhabi at Ferrari. Two years and three months ago Räikkönen snatched his last GP-victory in Belgium.

On Tuesday it became sure that Räikkönen will come back to F1 when Lotus-Renault published their 2-year contract with the 32-year old Finnish WDC.

Turun Sanomat got an exclusive intervew with Räikkönen right after the contract was announced.

How does it feel to go back to F1 after rally?

– It feels cool. I don't have to roll in the mud anymore, a very relaxed and sunny Räikkönen grinned.

– It felt cool to drive rally too but you can't get over the fact that I also missed racing. The longer I was away from F1, the more I wanted back there.

Why Lotus-Renault?

– We talked for a long time with Williams and when nothing happened there we turned to Renault and after that everything proceeded quickly in three weeks. Now I have a contract and I'm pleased that I can race with F1-cars again.

When did your will to go back to F1 arise?

– When I drove those Nascar-races in May I noticed how cool it was to race on track again. That's when the spark came and the more I thought about it, the more I wanted back.

Racing fascinates more

Did you get bored with rally driving?

– Absolutely not. I would still like to drive rallies. But yet it's a different thing when you race against other drivers on the track. It is afterall what I have been doing for almost my whole life.

What remained as your best rally?

– I guess it's this year's Jyskälä. We didn't get into the speed the first day but after that it started to go well. We had a good pace until we hit the fence.

– That's the thing that bugs me most in rally, how much disadvantage for a long time you can get from the smallest situation. If you hit a little but the service park is far away that blunder willl reflect on your times in so many stages.

How long would it had taken for you to drive for trophies in WRC?

– It would have taken a lot of time. Every now and then I could take the same times as the lead did. Better results would have required that I would get to test just as much as the drivers from the factory team got to test.

Räikkönen didn't finish the last rallies.

– The decision was based upon the prognosis that it was going to rain and I didn't want to go sliding there. Then the weather was good afterall so of course I should have continued.

– On the other hand it wouldn't have made any use since I had already retired. It's a bit stupid when you can continue in rally although you have retired. You can't continue the race in F1 anymore if something happens, Räikkönen said.

Most to learn about is tyres

How difficult is it to come from rally back to a F1-car?

– I don't think it's that tricky. Afterall I have drove F1-cars for a long time and haven't had more than a two years break. The last time I was there we had KERS and we had a lot of buttons in the steering wheel back then already. I guess I'll also control the buttons soon.

– The biggest difference will be the tyres. It takes more time to learn how they work the best way. But it was more difficult when I went from McLaren and Michelin-tyres to Ferrari and Bridgestone-tyres. Now I haven't raced for two years with F1-tyres so I haven't got the most fresh feeling of them. This way I surely adapt easier to the new tyres.

What kind of information do you have about Pirelli's tyres?

– I have chatted with my old team mate Pedro de la Rosa and from what he has told me it feels pretty good. I hear that the tyres have a damn good grip right from the beginning and in my case it's important that the front is working.

How much information do you have about Lotus-Renault's team?

– Not much. I talked for the first time with Eric Boullier on Monday in the phone. On Friday I will visit Enstone factory and from there I continue to the team's christmas party.

Getting used by using GP2-tyres

When will you start testing?

– I can drive with this year's car as long as it has GP2-tyres. I guess I start getting used to it by that. I don't know exactly about next year's schedules. The new car comes when it comes and then we test with it, Räikkönen told.

Turun Sanomat


Courtesy: Nicole

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