MotorLat.com exclusively talked with Kimi Raikkonen ahead of this weekend’s French Grand Prix.
We spoke to the 2007 World Champion about various topics. The second part of the interview with the Finn will be published tomorrow.
The last race in Azerbaijan saw tyre failures for Max Verstappen and Lance Stroll at high speeds. Asked if he was concerned about it happening to him, he said he wasn’t worried about it as there’s nothing you can do.
''Obviously I didn’t know what happened; I never asked... even from the team. It’s pretty obvious that something broke when they crashed in the middle of the straight,'' he said.
''It’s not the first time in F1. Over the years it keeps happening sometimes.
''I didn’t really worry about it: if it happens, it happens. There is nothing you can basically do. It’s not that you are driving somewhere in the wrong parts of the track or not, it happens.''
Raikkonen’s teammate Antonio Giovinazzi got into Q3 at the Monaco Grand Prix last month. The Finn is sure he can do it at some point this season if everything comes together but believes that could be a disadvantage at Paul Ricard.
''Obviously it [making Q3] depends from all kind of different things: from the circuit layout to this and that,'' he said.
''I’m sure we can probably make it. Like this weekend, if you cannot qualify on mediums and be in Q3, it’s probably better to be outside of Q3 and choose whatever tyres you want for the race.
''For us, because we don’t have the speed to challenge the front anyhow, it’s not going to change the world in many ways. Obviously we try to qualify as high as we can.''
The Finnish driver has struggled in qualifying in recent times. Across the last three races of 2020 and 2021, he’s been outqualified 2-7 by his Italian teammate. Raikkonen says mistakes have held him back on a Saturday afternoon but feels progress has been made recently.
''It hasn’t been that good for me.... [but] the last two races starting to be better. Hopefully we can keep going that way,'' he said.
''No [if tyres or car setup has been a problem when asked], just not putting good laps together. In the race, we can always be pretty strong.
''For one lap, this year especially, just never been putting good laps, making mistakes or then not having a best feeling. Like I said, it’s been quite a bit better the last couple of races. We hopefully can do a bit better going forward.
''Obviously there’s some races that you do a mistake and it costs you but it’s not the end of the life, especially where we are on track.''
Raikkonen took a two-year break from Formula One after exiting Ferrari following the 2009 season. He competed in the World Rally Championship in 2010 and 2011, with a best finish of 5th in Turkey.
The former World Champion talked about how much he enjoyed racing in two NASCAR events in 2011 which ultimately led him to an F1 comeback, too.
''Obviously I had no idea about the rally story before, even less from the NASCAR side. My plan was to do a lot more NASCAR races but for many reasons it didn’t happen that year. I really enjoyed there,'' he said.
''In the rally, you never race against each other, it’s against the time. Once I did the NASCAR stuff, that was the first time I raced against other guys [since the 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix]. I enjoyed a lot.
''There is like 40 cars and you always found somebody to race with and I enjoyed the racing part again. That was really the reason I started to think that if I want do racing, what should I do?
''Already people were calling and asking in 2010 if I wanted to come [back] to F1. I said I had no interest.
“Luckily we were in a position that we could make some phone calls and it all started from there to make a plan to come back [in 2012] and found a good place to come back.''
While Raikkonen doesn’t rule out doing more NASCAR events in the future, he admits he wouldn’t do a full season because of how many races there is; he also has zero plans for 2022 at the moment.
''It’s [NASCAR’s] a completely different way of how they run the whole weekend at the racing. You never know. I would say never the full season because they have like 36 races; it’s a lot heavier than here [F1].
''I’ve made zero plans for next year as [of] yet. We’ll see what the future brings.''