Q&A with Kimi Raikkonen on his rally goals
There is still some way to go before we see a Formula 1 GP in Finland but Kimi Raikkonen will make his debut this weekend in a world championship home race with a racing car. But instead of an F1 contender, the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver will start the Finland Rally behind the wheel of an Abarth Grande Punto S200.
It will be the fourth time that Kimi has participated in a rally, after two races on ice and snow last winter, the Artic and Vaakuna, and the Rally della Marca Trevigiana, on tarmac in Italiz. His navigator is Kaj Lindstrom, who used to be partner to world champion Tommy Makinen.
Speaking to the press ahead of the event, Kimi had the following to say....
Kimi, firstly welcome to the WRC. We have seen you compete on events this year but what has made you decide to compete on a round of the World Rally Championship and what have you thought of the experience so far?
The biggest decision was that I have the time now and I don’t have anything else to do this weekend.
Rallying is such a huge sport in Finland and this event is a classic on the calendar. Is it your first time to the event or have you been here spectating before?
I have been a few times but this has been the first time I have seen the roads. They look very nice and we will see how it goes tomorrow but this is definitely an excellent rally and good experience for me. It looks like the weather will also be good so everything is ready for a good event.
After contesting events on snow and asphalt this will be your first rally on gravel. How difficult has it been to adapt to the surface?
I think this is more normal for me on gravel. The roads are a bit faster than on snow and the grip is good and the roads are a bit wider so we will see how we can do. We will try to finish the rally – I don’t know if we can win it or not but we will have fun.
The car is prepared by Tommi Mäkinen Racing – has Tommi or your co-driver Kaj Lindstrom been giving you any advice ahead of this event?
The notes here are really important for you to go fast and it is something completely different to what I am used to. All the top guys here drive at similar speed and the notes make a big difference. It just takes time to learn and sometimes you get it wrong and it is not easy to know exactly where to go on the jumps. Hopefully we have the right notes and we shall have some fun, but I am responsible for the right notes.
Could we see you compete again at World level - is rallying just fun for you or could this be a future career?
Yes definitely. I am still in F1 and still have one more year contract but everything is open and it is nice to be a part of it here. I am a bit too young to do nothing so I will see. It all depends on which way F1 is going. Nobody is exactly sure how it will be. I am in no hurry. I just hope to get to the finish and match the same speeds as the other guys in my group.
What do you think about Michael Schumacher joining you as the second driver at Ferrari?
I actually heard it yesterday. For me it makes no difference who drives the second car. I don’t think it is 100 per cent sure that he will drive as he is still checking things out. But it will be nice to have him as a teammate. It nearly happened before.
Will you be doing more rallies next year in the WRC?
I don’t know. If I have the time then maybe. I like learning different things so if I have no testing, and the time, then I will do more rallies – I enjoy it and there is no harm in it.
Has Luca di Montezemolo shown any interest in your rallying project?
I asked him first if it was okay, because FIAT has a Super 2000 car, so it was an easy choice. He knew I was interested so he let me do something in my spare time.
Would it be possible for a World Rally driver to win an F1 race?
You will have to ask Sébastien (Loeb)! For sure he has the speed, and he has shown he can drive fast in Le Mans.
Sebastien Loeb: I tested only once and the time was okay, but for sure it would be nice to race for real.