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Exclusive Kimi Raikkonen Q&A: Fully committed to Ferrari for 2010

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen is back. The slow start to his 2009 campaign seems but a distant memory, and having taken four consecutive podiums, including an excellent win at August’s Belgian Grand Prix, Raikkonen is looking perkier than he has in a long time. But we’ll have to wait and see what the season’s four remaining races - and 2010 - have in store for the Finn…

Q: Kimi, towards the end of the season Ferrari are enjoying a successful streak. Why did it take so long and how frustrating was it to see the Brawns and Red Bulls win races, while you were sidelined in an uncompetitive car?
Kimi Raikkonen: Well, we weren’t in the right position at the beginning of the year, and we still don’t have the fastest car, but I think we’ve got the maximum out of the car. The people who are in front probably haven’t made any mistakes. What we need to improve? More downforce. Otherwise the car is pretty good. Downforce is what’s missing. When we achieve that, the car will be very fast.

Q: After taking victory in Belgium, at Monza you seemed to have your old fire back. How important was your win in Spa to you?
KR: One win doesn’t change my life. Does it make life easier when you win? I don’t think so. But it is always nice to win, even though the next race is the same old challenge again. If you win that’s nice, but people will forget that very fast. Many times it only takes one race and then people don’t remember that you’ve won. It was a good result for me and it was much welcomed in the team after the season so far.

Q: But didn’t winning help remind you that you haven’t lost it?
KR: No, I’ve never had doubts in that respect. You never lose that certain touch of how to drive a car. It was just a difficult 2009 season. But now we’ve proved that we can win. I think all these questions are more in the head of the people outside. It’s not about me or anybody in the team. And if you found me a bit more happy in Monza, believe me, there are many other reasons to feel happy than a race win.

Q: For a while you gave the impression that you could imagine more exciting places to be than a paddock on a race weekend. Are you friends again with Formula One racing?
KR: I think there are still more exciting places. Racing is the nicest thing in the paddock, and I am pretty sure that you wouldn’t see many drivers in the paddock if it wasn’t for racing. Take the racing out and I doubt that you would find any driver here. Racing is the main thing.

Q: You worked hard at the rally in Finland over the summer break. Could rallying be your future? KR: I like it and I think it is a great sport, and good fun also. It is completely different to Formula One even though it is still driving. It might happen in the future, or it might not. But for sure I want to do more rallying, at least for fun. I will try to do it whenever I have the chance and it does not conflict with my other things. I think it is a great practice for Formula One and it gives me a good feeling.

Q: Ferrari have had their share of unlucky moments this season with a difficult car, a driver accident and now with a second reserve driver. How much has that upset the routine of the team?
KR: For sure it hasn’t been the easiest year for us, and it’s unfortunate that it’s happened, but we are getting back to where we should be. Sometimes times are difficult but then you have to make sure that you put all strength into getting back to where you belong. Sometimes in hard times you see what people are made off. That’s the good thing, as we are improving with every race.

Q: It’s common knowledge that you have a contract with Ferrari for 2010, but it seems the team have three drivers and only two cockpits. Are you interested in a drive? Will Ferrari have to make a decision by getting you all to play a round of musical chairs?
KR: I always can only repeat that I have a contract - and that has not changed. If they want to talk with me, we need to sit down to talk. I am fully committed, as otherwise I would not have signed the contract in the first place. Musical chairs… that would be a funny idea!

Q: The FIA found Renault guilty of deliberately causing an accident at last year’s Singapore Grand Prix. What do you make of that? Are drivers that vulnerable to the influence of their management?
Well, it doesn’t matter what you do, some people are easier to be manoeuvred into something than others. That has nothing to do with Formula One. And a person with little experience is always more vulnerable than somebody who has seen it all. I would say that what happened is part of life and can happen everywhere.

Q: Ferrari were a bit unlucky at last year’s night race. Are you ready for another go, with a better result?
RK: Ha, it shouldn’t be too difficult to have a better result than last year. Hopefully we manage to do it. There should be some points in it for us. A podium would be great but we will only know that tomorrow after hitting the track.

Q: Who is your favourite for the title, and why?
KR: I don’t really care who wins. We cannot win, so for me whoever wins deserves it. For me Jenson (Button) is in the strongest position and I think it would be difficult for him to lose it.


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