Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Räikkönen left the rust on the rally paths

They say that a tenth of a second is an eternity in motorsport. Then how could one define those 867 days that come from Räikkönen's last GP-race?

Räikkönen himself stares the reporter who asks this question in the eyes with astonishment. It's just a fact and he is completely okay with it.

In Turun Sanomat's interview Räikkönen seemed just as ready to start the season as his performances in winter tests let understand.

Has rust been a burden when you have been away for 2,5 years or do you feel as if there never was this break?

– I'm sure that the first race will show my readiness. Of course there are all those small systems that you have to get right. That you do the right things before the start and press the right buttons at the right time, not too early or too late.

– But those aren't any that complicated stuff. The tests already showed it, Räikkönen thinks and leans back on the team premises leather sofa in a laidback way.

– If the car just works well it will make the whole job terribly more easier. If the car doesn't work at all, then it makes everything more difficult.

Räikkönen's wrist was fractured in a motorsledge race in December and then it took one testing week for Lotus to fix their front suspension's structural flaw. Did you have enough time to do everything needed when preparing for the season?

– It wouldn't had changed anything. I couldn't have drove more - or maybe one test in December but that never worked out because Pirelli didn't have more tyres for us so we wouldn't have drove at all beforehand. I could have tried out more on that testing week but fortunately there was no bigger problem that would have required a lot of driving.

He has a very exhausting day behind him when winter tests end on Barcelona's technically and physically challenging track.

Räikkönen drove almost two race lenghts during one day. In the interview he was ouzing with good mood which gave the signal that finally everything is just about right in the E20-car.

It won't get any better

How ready are you now for the opening race?

– I doubt it would change any better no matter how much I would drive. We do get new parts etc. though. Of course I could have tried something more but I don't believe that it would have changed a thing in the final games.

– At least we had a good test in Jerez and a good last day in Barcelona. It's okay since we didn't have any bigger problems starting from the beginning.

Ross Brawn has predicted an all time season when five teams can drive for victory. Räikkönen won't start to speculate anything.

– It's difficult to say what everybody did in the tests. They have had a relatively small amount of fuel but how can you know? It depends so much on the fuel amounts and they make massive differences in laptimes and it also depends on the tracks where some car works better there than anywhere else.

The fuel pitstops are now history and Kimi drove for the first time during his career with a fuel amount of 150 kg - and not just during the race lenght.

– We drove with a lot of fuel already in Jerez. Driving itself won't change in principal. It's just heavier. You are a little slower but it doesn't change how the car behaves - at least for us.

– It's mostly up to the tyres. If it's warm, then the tyre works as it is supposed to work. It is however very sensitive to that kind of weather. A lot depends upon if it's warm or cool. It was so cold in the tests that the left front tyre started to peel off, and when that happens the rubber vanishes and you lose the heat. That's when you are forced to brake earlier and be slower although the car's balance hasn't changed at all.

The heat changes the way the tyres work

How well does Räikkönen master the Pirelli-tyre which has been known to be surprising?

– We'll see it in the race. In tests it was so that they worked some way. However my guess is that when the race starts they work completely differently because it was so cold in tests.

Will the experience of two years in rally help when the weather changes in races or when you get some difficulties on the tyre-department?

– It won't help at all. Rally-driving has nothing to do with F1-driving.

Rally has to help at least a bit. When I asked how it feels for Räikkönen to go to three tracks where he has never drove before, he gave me the rally-answer.

– America is new for everybody but my first time in Korea or India can't be terribly difficult compared to how during my rally season I went each time to a completely new rally.

What did it feel like to use the DRS -rear wing in testing?

– The car maybe accelerates more on a straight and you notice it when coming out from some corner. When driving the race lenght the organizers simulated the same DRS-area for us that we have in this race and I used the DRS there. Afterall it's nothing more than one button.

Grosjean is a nice guy

– He is a really nice guy. We didn't know from before although we have raced against each other in a few races. He also had a break from these races. We get well along and the work has proceeded just as planned, Räikkönen said.

Turun Sanomat, Melbourne


Courtesy: Nicole

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