Sunday, March 18, 2012

Kimi: Welcome back!

The evening in Melbourne has darkened. The paddock in Albert Park empties and the last containers are shipped to the airport and from there to Malaysia

Finland got their first WC-points since Brazil 2009 when Kimi was 6th with Ferrari. Now he got 7th position and 6 points with Lotus.

I think that the Finnish iceman seems to have made an icy and good comeback, when keeping in mind the end result of poor qualification and strong race performance.

When I walk around the paddock, the first thing they usually ask me is how Kimi is doing. Now I reply in the same way and ask what these interested in Kimi think of his first GP in two years.

Stefano Domenicali almost starts to reply before even hearing my questions.

– It felt really good to see Kimi back racing. We met on Saturday and I sort of joked by thanking him for giving us some leverage in qualification, since he could have been ahead of us.

– I am happy that Kimi is back. I am assured that once he gets a little more races under his belt his race performances will become stronger and stronger, Domenicali smiled while holding the microphone in his shivering hand.

Certain feelings could probably not have been avoided when Räikkönen overtook his former team mate Felipe Massa in his Ferrari.

I asked Felipe Massa how it felt to race against Kimi.

– You probably liked it...? To me it was the same as if I would have raced against any other driver. It's all the same if it's an old team mate like Michael or Kimi, I race, Massa stated obviously annoyed.

Next stop was Sauber's garage. Kamui Kobayashi overtook Räikkönen the last time they met in Abu Dhabi 2009 and now they met even tighter. Overtakings happened on both sides. In the end Sauber finished the race ahead of Lotus as 6th.

What was it like to battle with Kimi?

– This was a replay of Abu Dhabi. It's great to race with Kimi because he is a very fair opponent. The end was easy though. It wasn't difficult to keep him behind.

– Our cars touched one time. I tried to overtake Massa but there wasn't enough space, and when I gave up Kimi came there and the accident happened. We are here to race. In this race Kimi was the opponent I battled most with, Kobayashi said.

Peter Sauber lit a thick cigar after the team scored good points.

What kind of memories does racing against Kimi bring to a team manager who once brought the 21-year old rookie to this track to race?

– Time has made memories golden. I am really happy that Kimi drives in F1 again. The fact that he happened to battle with our car and Kamui was practically thrilling. Totally genuine racing when two racing drivers like those two are up against each other.

Was it still the same Kimi who Sauber remembers?

.– No, this Kimi was too much for us during the last two laps
, Sauber laughed and grabbed my shoulder.

Alan Permane said that the opening points were welcomed in Lotus-team.

– We expected Kimi to climb up to points but the end result was even better than we calculated beforehand. The car was better than 17th grid, so next time we hopefully get the qualification to hit both our drivers, track engineer Alan Permane summed up the team's feelings.

What about Kimi then?

– It went somehow. It was cool to race, Räikkönen said before all press conferences.

The word is free under these circumstances. What do you think about Räikkönen's racing or about the opinions of those who followed it from close?

Courtesy: Nicole

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