Q and A with Kimi Raikkonen
Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen took part in Thursday afternoon’s official press conference here at the Shanghai International circuit in China, last year’s winner here meeting the press for a barrage of questions about his plans for the race, his thoughts on Lewis Hamilton’s racing and the way the stewards are interfering in race outcomes….
Kimi, a winner here last year and three times on the podium. What are your thoughts about this race?
It is nice to come back here. I have had some good races in the past here but hopefully we can have similar achievement this year but we need to see what we can do.
It is your birthday tomorrow, what is the best present you could give yourself or could be given to you?
Like I said, hopefully I can challenge for a win. The car is definitely improving and it is better for me but we are still not exactly where we want to be. But this is a different place from the last circuit. Last year we had a good time and hopefully this year we can again.
Is qualifying going to be any better for Ferrari than, say at Fuji?
I mean at Fuji I had a pretty okay qualifying but then it didn’t work out in the race as well. For sure qualifying for all the teams is going to make a big difference and if you are driving behind cars it is going to be difficult to get past anybody.
Kimi, you said you would challenge for a win for your birthday present, so what will you do if you are first and Felipe was second?
I always try to win but hopefully we are in a position this weekend to fight for that. I know what the team expects from me and I know what they want, they want both championships, so we will see how the race goes and where we are and then maybe there is some different approach we can take. That we will see during the race.
Kimi, compared to last season when you were chasing Lewis and looking now at the situation how much different is it? Will it be easier or more difficult for Ferrari to try to achieve everything?
What do you mean? I mean we try as a team to win both championships. It’s as simple as that.
Will it be easier or more difficult for Ferrari to try to achieve everything?
Yeah, it can be easier or it can be more difficult. It depends really how these last two races go. Anything can happen. There are three guys who can win, so last year I was quite a bit behind and I was still able to do it, so I am not going to start guessing who is going to win. I am sure whoever wins deserves it in the end and we hope that our team will be there.
It seems that the number of races is reducing. What is the ideal number of races for an ideal fight for the championship?
Yeah, I guess we expect to have 18 or maybe 17 next year but one or two races doesn’t make much difference. I think we would have more testing if we don’t have races and if we do more racing, there’s less testing, so for us racing is always the nicest thing, I prefer races.
Do you feel anything about Lewis’s driving this season, that perhaps it’s been a bit over the edge?
The whole notion of what makes a safe or an unsafe overtaking move – obviously you guys are out there racing, you are not going for a Sunday afternoon drive over to your grandma’s house. What, in your mind, constitutes an unsafe move and what constitutes a safe move?
First of all, it is a dangerous sport, so when you race against somebody, you try to make sure that first of all you want to get round him and not crash into him because it’s not going to help you or him. But sometimes you get it wrong, when you push on the limit and both guys try to go as fast as possible in a corner and not try to let the other guy past. Sometimes you end up hitting each other and that’s racing. The rules are quite tight. Sometimes you get penalized, sometimes not but as I said, there are always many different views of the same incidents or the same situations. There is always going to be talk about penalties and stuff but that’s unfortunately going to be a big part of Formula One. It’s not always best for the sport but we’re here to race and try to get past people and sometimes you get penalties out of it, even when you don’t think it’s right. But that’s how it goes.
This year, seven drivers have already won races. Moreover, neither a McLaren nor a Ferrari driver was able to once in the last three races. Do you think there will be even more uncertainties in the final two races this year than last year?
There’s a lot of… you win a lot or you can lose a lot in the last two races. For me or Heikki it’s more for the team, to get the points in the first place and Lewis and Felipe are racing against themselves. At some point, when the points are close, the other guy needs to try to keep the other bloke behind and vice versa, so a lot of things can easily go well for one guy and go badly for another. Then you see different results sometimes, it can be because of the weather but I wouldn’t put money one anybody, anybody can win really. It gets more exciting in the last couple of races, especially for the guys who are fighting for the championship.
Do you think there’s a feeling among the drivers that you are jealous or envious of the fact that Lewis at the moment is leading the drivers’ standings and also that wherever you go he seems to be the biggest star?
I’m happy with my life, I wouldn’t change it.
Going back to the point of safe driving and punishments handed out by stewards. As you say, you guys know in your own minds when you’ve pulled off a safe move or a fair move. How much do you think it would help having a permanent steward and more particularly a permanent steward who was a former racing driver to be able to understand exactly what racing is all about?
Yeah, for sure that would help. It would keep people happier also, that every time you get the same decision. Maybe if there would be an older driver there would be more respect and people wouldn’t complain as much. It’s only that people want to have the same thing happening every time, the same penalties and same rules.