Saturday, March 24, 2012

Exclusive Q&A with Lotus’s Kimi Räikkönen 24 Mar 2012

The Australian event probably wasn’t the welcome back to the sport Lotus’s Kimi Räikkönen would have wanted. But after starting down in 17th and eventually finishing in seventh, Raikkonen made the best of a bad situation and left with a well-deserved haul of six points. In comparison, the Malaysian weekend is already looking a lot better, even though a five-place gearbox penalty will see him drop down from fifth on the grid to tenth. Räikkönen discusses the Melbourne race and looks ahead to Sunday in Sepang…

Q: Kimi, is racing again in Formula One as much fun as you had hoped?
Kimi Räikkönen: It is all the same as before. It hasn’t changed. But the car is good and that always makes it a bit nicer. If you are in 15th place, then that of course is never nice. Okay, in terms of the paddock, I really didn’t expect it to be any different from when I left, but the team is nice so I feel very comfortable.

Q: So things haven’t really changed. You initially left for a reason so can you stomach those reasons now?
KR: I like the racing. And if you do so then it is inevitable you must accept the rest. Sometimes you discover that on your second try.

Q: How would you sum up your first race? Was it business as usual or did you have to warm up first?
KR: I made a mistake in qualifying so I put myself in a very bad position, but at least in the race we got something out of it. I took it quite easy as I didn’t want to get overly excited and throw it away. As for this weekend we’ve got a five-place penalty which means I will start from P10 tomorrow. But I’m used to penalties; I’ve got so many during my career! (laughs)

Q: Was it painful seeing your team mate, Romain Grosjean, start from P3 in Melbourne?
KR: No - we knew that we botched it and that we never gave ourselves a real chance. But that’s racing. Sometimes you are fastest and sometimes you are slower in qualifying. But it’s the race where you get the points.

Q: So were you angry about botching it up?
KR: We did it ourselves so we are the ones to be blamed. So what’s the point in crying over spilt milk now? I have been long enough in the business to know about the ups and downs of racing. It’s not the first time that I had to stop after Q1 - it is what it is.

Q: Today went better though…
KR: It was of course much nicer. The car felt really good. So maybe I am a bit disappointed as I very well could have ended up in P3 - or even on pole position. But I made a small mistake and there you go. And then with the penalty, of course that costs us even more. But sure it is day and night compared to Melbourne. Here the race should give us a very real chance. P5 would have been easier as P10 already means you have a ‘crowd’ in front. But after the first three corners I should be fine.

Q: You said that you missed the direct competition with other drivers when you were rallying. But there wasn’t too much direct competition in Melbourne…
KR: Ha! If I had been further at front the competition would have been much less. But again, the race went nice and smoothly.

Q: There have been rumours that your nickname could change from ‘ice man’ to ‘nice man’. How do you like that?
KR: It’s all just a rumour. It is the media who make up these kinds of things in the first place. It’s all rubbish!

Q: How do you feel seeing your former team Ferrari struggling so much?
KR: I don’t care. We try to beat all the teams and they are just one of them. If they do poorly it is bad for them but as we are ahead of them I could not care less. And if they become better than us then it’s a sign that we have to improve.

Q: What is your strategy for the race?
KR: I will try to get through the first corners without any accidents and then go on from there. There is not a plan or manual of what to do in the first lap. As I said at the beginning, the car feels good and there should be some options for me tomorrow.


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