After a second consecutive race with no points to show for his efforts – despite a storming drive through the Monza field. Kimi Räikkönen heads to Singapore pumped and ready for the challenge ahead.
Kimi – It’s now been announced where you will drive next year; how does that affect the rest of your season?
For my racing this season it doesn’t make any difference. I’ll keep pushing at every race to get the best result I can.
Hopefully it means I won’t be asked so much where I’m driving next year, but maybe it means more questions. For my racing this season it doesn’t make any difference. I’ll keep pushing at every race to get the best result I can.
Are you looking forward to the Singapore Grand Prix?
I really like going to Singapore. It’s a great place to be, I love the local food, and I don’t mind the unusual times we run in the car as it means I don’t have to get up so early. I have some unfinished business after my three Grands Prix there so far, as I enjoy the circuit but have not yet had a podium. That doesn’t mean I’m not quick there as I’ve been told I still hold the lap record from 2008. I crashed while fighting for fifth place that year, finished down in tenth in 2009, and took sixth last season, so I want more this time.
What difference does it make racing at night?
In the first years of the race being held I was a little bit surprised by how people were talking so much about the different timing. Obviously when they switched on the lights it was exactly the same as racing in the day time. I think everybody in Formula 1 enjoys the night race. It’s worked out really well as Singapore is a buzzing city and lots of people turn up. Apart from one or two dark spots in the run-off areas the circuit is very well lit, so there is not a big difference to racing in the day.
Regardless of being at night, it’s a street race; what effect does this have?
Monaco was not that good for us but there is no reason why Singapore should be difficult. Like at every street circuit it’s very difficult to pass other cars there, so starting the race as high as possible on the grid is a very important factor in getting a good result on Sunday.
How do you think the circuit will suit the E21?
Everybody will bring updates to this race so we’ll have to see what difference that makes. It’s a case of trying to get the maximum from our package and working on achieving the best balance. If we get everything right we should do okay.
Any worries about the weather?
We saw rain last year in Singapore and it’s no secret that our car sometimes struggles in wet conditions. It’s something we’ll deal with if it happens, and as always the weather is the same for everyone.
Is it good to be back to a higher downforce layout?
After these two weekends with zero points it’s nice to get back to a circuit we expect to be more suited to our car. We seem to go better at high downforce circuits that’s for sure. The car actually worked surprisingly well at Monza during the race so it was a shame we lost so much time at the start. After getting the new nose, our race pace was not too bad.
What’s your target in Singapore?
Obviously, the podium is a target again. We’ve had two races without scoring any points so we need to score as many as we can in the remaining races this season.
How are you feeling about your Championship charge?
You don’t win Championships by not scoring points. We’ve had two races where we haven’t scored which is not ideal. We’re here to race and score as many points as we can. Of course, that’s what everyone is trying to do so we just have to keep pushing and hope that we have some pretty good races for the rest of the year, then we’ll see where we end up in the standings.
It’s been a difficult few weeks for the team, with performance falling short of expectations at the final two European races of the season followed by the announcement that Kimi will be moving to pastures new in 2014, but there’s still plenty to be positive about for Team Principal Eric Boullier.
Kimi has been announced as driving elsewhere next season; how does this affect the team?
Obviously, it was no secret we wanted to keep him, so it’s a disappointment that he won’t be driving with us in 2014. Despite this, we know Kimi will be pushing hard for the remainder of this season to secure the very best results he can for himself and the team, and his fighting drive in Monza shows just how well he can push. In the same breath, Enstone has once again proven its pedigree; providing Kimi with two great cars and making his return to Formula 1 a success. It’s been a win-win situation right from the beginning. Naturally, we have made preparations in case he decided not to continue driving with the team that brought him back to Formula 1, and I’m confident that we will have a very strong driver line-up next year. We’ve had Schumacher, Alonso, Räikkönen; new champions will join the list here soon I’m sure.
Monza wasn’t our best weekend in terms of results; how does this change the approach to Singapore?
We head to the final flyaway races with plenty of fight left in us.
If you want to be competitive in both Championships, you need to be able to fight at the front every weekend; on Saturday as well as on Sunday. The positive from Monza is that we showed fantastic race pace and both drivers drove exceptionally well. The negative was that we couldn’t qualify where we needed to be. The results at the end of the last two races weren’t a just reward for the team’s efforts, but there are plenty of positives to take from Monza; most notably the superb race pace from Kimi as he fought his way back through the field. We head to the final flyaway races with plenty of fight left in us.
Will the team be able to return to the podium in Singapore?
There’s no reason to think that a podium will be out of reach. We’ve been quite competitive on twisty circuits this year and Singapore shares a lot of Monaco’s characteristics. Romain loves that type of circuit, while Kimi has always been quick in Singapore. It will be an interesting weekend.
What opportunities does a street course offer the team?
It’s probably best we don’t mention the wall, but it’s true that we probably have a better car on high downforce circuits like Singapore than medium downforce tracks like Spa where we struggled a bit. We have a good reliability record, a durable car, and the Singapore Grand Prix is likely to be one of the longest of the year in terms of running time.
The team has not scored well in the Championships over the last two races; how does this affect preparations?
Obviously we want to get back to scoring as many points as we can, and it is only three races ago in Budapest that we scored the most points of any team. We are comfortably ahead of McLaren in the Constructors’ Championship; in fact we have almost three times the amount of points they do with 191 points to their 66. This team has bounced back before and we are focused on achieving the very best results we can over the remaining seven races of this season.
There was a new deal sealed with Emaar Properties over the weekend of the Italian Grand Prix; what does this mean for the team?
We are always looking to expand our portfolio of partners with brands of the right calibre for the team, so we are delighted about this new relationship with the developer of such iconic projects as Burj Khalifa and The Dubai Mall as it positions us very strongly moving forwards.