October 9th, 2012 (F1plus Team).- The Lotus F1 Team
Kimi Räikkönen: “How do I learn a new circuit? I drive it…”
After another battling drive to clinch P6 in Japan, Kimi faces the rare challenge of an unknown circuit as the Formula 1 circus rolls on to Korea. Is the Iceman phased? Not a chance…
Was P6 about what you expected from the Japanese Grand Prix or did you feel more
Sixth wasn’t the result we were hoping for. We lost some time with all the incidents on the first lap and also had a problem in the second pit stop, so overall it was quite a difficult race. Unfortunately even considering those things we didn’t have the speed to do better today. Maybe we could have stayed ahead of Lewis [Hamilton] if things had gone a bit differently but there was no real chance to be higher than fifth.
The start looked quite frantic for you; how did you see it from inside the car?
The first corner was very tight. I got an okay start and was on the left alongside Fernando [Alonso] straight away. He kept moving further across until there was nowhere left for me to go and his wheel touched my front wing. We had some damage and I think he got a puncture so it was not a great start to the race but there was not a lot I could do differently.
What can you take away from this race heading to Korea?
The good thing is we still managed to score points to stay in touch in the championship. For sure we have some work to do if we want to catch the people in front, but there are still five races left and anything can happen.
What are your thoughts heading to a new track?
I’ve never been to Korea, but it doesn’t make a difference for me. Since I was very young I have always been able to pick up circuits very quickly. This has not changed.
What do you do to learn a new circuit?
I drive it. I know some drivers work hard in simulators to learn a new circuit, but they are not for me. I have never played the Playstation or spent too much time in the simulator and it doesn’t seem to have affected my performance in the past. We have three hours practice on Friday and a further one hour before qualifying on Saturday so all the drivers will know the circuit very well.
Are you looking forward to visiting a new country?
It’s always interesting to race at a new venue and I enjoy going to different places. It gives me a good feeling. It is exciting to be going there for the first time and to start work by walking around the circuit and checking all the corners. I’ve seen a Korean Grand Prix on TV, but we’ll have to wait until the first laps of FP1 on Friday to get to grips with the circuit. Hopefully we will have normal weather there and will not miss any track time on Friday because of rain or technical issues.
What’s your approach for the weekend?
I will approach Yeongam the same way I approach every race – with the intention of going there to do my very best.
Romain Grosjean: “I’m eager to get back out on track”.
Having left Suzuka with plenty to think about in the wake of a turbulent Japanese Grand Prix, Romain Grosjean is relishing the challenge of a new circuit for him in Korea and a chance to make amends…
Romain Grosjean during practice at Suzuka.
Firstly, what went wrong in Suzuka?
Since Singapore, I’ve been trying to be really cautious at the starts and it’s been all the more frustrating to be involved in an incident in Japan. When approaching the first corner, I was watching Sergio [Perez] on my left to make sure there was no contact with him. I didn’t expect such a big speed difference between me and Mark [Webber] braking into the corner, we collided and that was it. It was a stupid mistake. Mark [Webber] came to see me after the race and was obviously not happy, but I apologised and we have to move on. I’ve sat down and looked at things again with the team; for sure it’s still an area we need to improve. We’re clearly focusing on this area for the next races.
You retired from the race not far from the end – was there an issue?
We tried running a long final stint but my tyre performance dropped off significantly. We were a long way out of the points and making another stop so late in the race wouldn’t have made sense from a tactical or safety standpoint so retiring was the only sensible option.
What were the positives from the weekend?
Qualifying was certainly a highlight, and the way we all worked together as a team to dial in the set-up of the car which was not where we wanted it at the start of the weekend. In qualifying we were easily through to Q3 and the car even had the pace to be further up the grid. I took the most satisfaction from how well me and my engineers worked through the weekend to extract more performance from the car.
The track has a bit of a split personality with the three long straights and some tight and twisty sections; does that make setting up the car difficult?
It’s the same for many circuits. There will be corners where we may be good and some where we may not be as strong. We know our strengths as well as out weakness, so hopefully we can improve on those in Korea and through to the end of the season.
How do you cope as a driver when you have to make such a compromise on setup?
A compromise is not always the best solution. Everyone on the grid has their own driving preferences – some may like a very light car at high speed for example – so you have to try and find the best solution for your own style. Normally we adapt ourselves quite well in that sense and it will be another interesting challenge.
What are your thoughts on Korea as a country?
Seoul was very nice when I visited it last year; it’s a fascinating combination of Asian culture with some European flavour too. The circuit is quite remote and it’s a very different part of Korea from Seoul. It’s certainly a different experience from that of many other Grands Prix. The track looks to be a good challenge and it’s going to be great to be racing in front of new fans for Formula 1.
Do you like visiting new countries and meeting new fans?
Yes, I do like travelling and seeing new fans. We’ve just left Japan where the supporters are very enthusiastic; they even gave me a flag signed by many people which was really nice. In Korea Formula 1 is new so it’s fascinating seeing the sport grow and meeting new followers.