INTERVIEW WITH KIMI AND ROMAIN—
Kimi Räikkönen: “The nice thing is that it starts so late”
After a challenging Indian Grand Prix, our Finn heads to the scene of his first race victory for Lotus F1
Team fired up for a strong result –
How’s the feeling heading back to the scene of your 2012 race victory?
You just approach it like any race. I had a good result there last year, but I had a very boring race there the
first time I visited in 2009. I’d prefer to have another good result, but you don’t know how strong you’ll be
until you get to the circuit.
What do you think of the Yas Marina?
It’s a great place to go. The circuit is connected to big entertainment centre and you’ve got all the boats
moored next to the circuit. There are often a lot of passionate fans watching the race and for me the hotel is
walking distance from the track which I like. It’s also good to race at a circuit where you have had a strong
Anything else in Abu Dhabi that’s good for you?
I like to be on a familiar time zone so you can wake up normally and do everything in the expected order.
That’s one of nice things with this race; especially with it starting so late.
What do you think of the circuit itself?
The facilities are second to none. The track layout makes it really challenging for overtaking as there are
not too many places to pass. You really have to qualify well to be at the front and get a strong result from
there. There are many corners, you need good overall downforce and grip, plus the car has to ride the
kerbs very well too. It’s a track where you really hope to get everything nicely together during the whole
weekend. When you succeed with that, it’s a good place to race. I have had one very boring race being
stuck in the middle group and then one great race fighting for the victory at the top. I know which I prefer.
Your race in 2009 wasn’t one of your favourites then?
That was a boring one I can tell you! I finished back in twelfth position and there was nothing I could do
about it. Those sorts of races are not the best.
How did it feel to take your 19th
win in Abu Dhabi last year?
I was very happy for the team; myself also obviously, but mainly for the all the crew and everyone at
Enstone. It was a hard season so the win was well deserved for everyone and just what we needed. It was
something great for all the fans who have continued to support me and the team too. For me, it was just
another win on the list. It’s great of course because it had been a few years, but the wins before were very
similar; we didn’t have the best car, but we fought hard and still won.
How does the evening race timing influence the race?
An evening race means I can get up later! Having a mixture of day and night makes a different challenge
from circuits that we see anywhere else. We start with the sun and finish with the lights. It’s different,
interesting and spectacular for the fans to watch too.
You’ve had some great races where you’ve moved up the order superbly; what’s the key to
overtaking in Formula 1?
You cannot plan it beforehand. Often an occasion comes suddenly and you have to jump on it immediately.
Sometimes you get it right, sometimes not. More often nowadays you have to sit for quite a while behind
somebody to work out where you can do it. Sometimes you just have to wait to see if the guy in front
makes a mistake or if his tyres are finished quicker than yours; that’s when you do it.
How was your Indian Grand Prix?
We tried something different with a one stop strategy and it didn’t work, but we didn’t lose anything by
making a late second stop over running the normal two stop strategy. I had a brake problem for all of the
race where they were overheating, and this got worse in traffic so I couldn’t overtake.
What’s your target for Abu Dhabi?
A race like last year would be good, rather than the one I had there in 2009.
Romain Grosjean: “I’ve been on the podium for the last three races; I like it there!”
A storming drive through the field from seventeenth to third made three consecutive podiums for Romain
Grosjean, who heads to Abu Dhabi with four-in-a-row very much the target
What do you think of the Yas Marina circuit?
It’s an amazing facility and it looks so impressive. It’s not used as much as some circuits over the course of
the year so we know we’re going to get lower grip at the start of the weekend. For me, the layout is not my
favourite – there are too many second gear corners for my liking – but not every circuit can be your
favourite and the E21 certainly seems to be liking every track at the moment!
What types of memories do you have of Abu Dhabi?
My history in Abu Dhabi isn’t bad. Last year wasn’t the best weekend for me, as I qualified tenth and did not
finish the race. It was however a great race for the team, so we know what is possible. I’ve been on pole
position in the GP2 Asia Series and finished second in that race, then won a GT1 racing World
Championship round there. My comeback to Formula 1 was also during an Abu Dhabi Grand Prix practice
session in 2011, so I’ve got some good memories of the place. It would be nice to have some more…
The Indian Grand Prix was quite some drive for you from 17th
on the grid to the podium?
If you had told me after qualifying that I’d be on the podium in India I would have said you were crazy! At
the start of the race our prediction was fourth place at best if we could make a strong start and have a
perfect race from there, so it was an amazing result and a great performance from the team. A friend of
mine in the media said he would eat his hat if I made a one-stop strategy work, so I’m looking forward to
With a different outcome on Saturday, would the win have been achievable?
If we’d started further up the grid then a fight for second would definitely have been possible, but Sebastian
[Vettel] was just too quick. Congratulations to him; he’s a nice guy, a great driver, and I hope to be
challenging him for that World Championship in the future…
Does the schedule of a late race affect you?
I quite like it as it means you can get more sleep and I like to sleep! The logistics of the race are pretty
good as you stay right next to the circuit and the facilities are amazing. On the Friday you don’t start the
first practice until the afternoon, then qualifying and the race itself start pretty late in the afternoon too so it’s
different from a lot of races we do. Everything seems to work well like this, but in reality when you’re in the
car you’re not thinking about the time of day; you’re thinking about the lap time!
What about the heat?
It’s certainly a contrast to the weather in Europe at the moment! The cockpit of a Formula 1 car can be a
pretty hot place even when it’s cold outside, but certainly Abu Dhabi is one of the hotter places we visit. It’s
very important that you take lots of fluids throughout the day – not just when you’re in the car – as you can
get dehydrated if you’re not careful.
What’s your target for Abu Dhabi?
I’ll come with the same philosophy as those last few races to give and do my best. I’ve finished on the
podium in Korea, Japan and India. It’s a good feeling being there. Without my engine problem in Singapore
I could have been on the podium there too. Certainly in this latter part of the season, our latest car with the
revised Pirelli tyres seems to work very well and I can get a good performance from it at different circuits. I
only want to be scoring points for the team and you get the most points from being on the podium!