Tag Archives: Raikkonen

Raikkonen move “a bit too much,” says Bottas

Valtteri Bottas insists that he didn’t expect that Kimi Raikkonen would try a last lap passing move in Sochi, given how far behind the Ferrari driver was.

After the pair made contact Bottas slid into the barrier and lost his third place, and a penalty for Raikkonen that dropped him from fifth to eighth provided little compensation to the frustrated Williams man.

“I’d just got past Perez and I was approaching Turn 4 and suddenly when I turned into the apex someone hit me from the back,” said Bottas. “That’s it really. It’s disappointing, it ruined my day. I can say that I can happily look in the mirror and say it was not my fault.

“I was not expecting a move like this from him, but now it’s done, zero points, and it’s very disappointing. I was approaching the corner in a normal way, and I saw in Turn 3 he was quite far away, so no way he could pass me there if I do my standard line. I think this was a bit too much. It’s a fine line, but it was a bit too much.

“I don’t know what the thinking was behind it really, doing it there and the last lap, and that far away. It was not too bad a race until then, running third on the last lap. It’s just a shame it ended that way.”

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Kimi Raikkonen: “I’m sure we can do much better…”

Kimi Raikkonen remains confident that his 2014 season will take a turn for the better once things finally start falling into place for him.

The Finn has not been comfortable with the F14 T thus far, and has struggled to match Fernando Alonso.

“I’m sure we can improve,” he said. “It’s been a very difficult start so far, but I mean we know most of the reasons, and now it’s just a question to get things the right way and fix them. It’s as simple as that. It sounds very easy, but sometimes it’s difficult to make it. I’m sure we can do much better than we’ve done.”

Raikkonen said a combination of factors led to his frustrating race in China, where he finished eighth, five places behind his team mate.

“I think there was a lot of small things that obviously influenced a lot what happened in the end. I think we could have understood the things much better if we had done the first practice, but then obviously it was wet and it just got difficult because of that. It’s an excuse but that’s how it went, it didn’t work out very well. We got a few points, but not a very good result still.

“I think we know what happened. We would not like to have those weekends, but unfortunately it hasn’t been very straightforward this year. Hopefully we can turn it around and be where we should be. I have no doubt that will will get there, and hopefully soon.”

Asked about the prospects of catching Mercedes he said: “I don’t know. Obviously we try to do the best that we can to improve the car. Every race we improve things, even if it’s a small thing it can make a big difference on handling and stuff like that. The fact is that when you are behind it’s hard to catch up because the others will not stop working, they keep pushing, and they will improve. Certain things that we know we have to improve, it’s not easy to change. We will keep working and try to improve and hopefully at certain points, certain races, we will be able to challenge them.”

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Boullier has “had enough” of rookie drivers

Lotus boss Eric Boullier says that 2014 is not the time to be bringing on a rookie – and has made it clear that the team does not intend to hire an inexperienced driver any time soon.

He admitted that there’s little chance of reserve driver Davide Valsecchi being promoted.

“Davide is on the list but to bring to the grid next year a driver with no experience is a huge step for them,” said Boullier. “I’ve done it twice with them, first with Petrov and then with a semi-rookie Grosjean, and I think I’ve had enough to be honest with you. Davide is on the list because we consider him as a good driver, as a GP2 champion, but it’s true that if you favour a scenario for next year it will be a driver with experience.

“If we cannot find any driver with experience, fitting the strategy of the team, obviously we will go for a rookie driver and then Davide is obviously on the top of the list. It looks harsh, I’m sorry but it’s true.”

Meanwhile regarding Romain Grosjean’s prospects of staying on he said: “Romain has a contract signed anyway for next year. It’s just, say, a matter of confirmation. We are being prudent after last obviously. But I think it’s on its way to be confirmed soon.

“We are definitely pleased with his performance, since Germany actually. Clearly, something switched on and he is working better. I mean the same tyre story as well, the latest spec of tyres suit a little bit more his driving style than Kimi’s one. But yes, we are pleased that he is stepping up. We don’t have a policy of driver number one and number two but we needed him obviously to step up.”

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Martin Whitmarsh Q&A: Button/Alonso a “manageable” line-up

An otherwise low-key Friday in Singapore was enlivened by excitement over the apparent possibility of Fernando Alonso returning to McLaren, the team he left at the end of the turbulent 2007 season.

Martin Whitmarsh insists that there has been no contact with the Spaniard and his camp, but the team boss is happy to confirm that he would love to have him back, and that the door is open. Mischievously he suggests that the Alonso/Raikkonen partnership at Ferrari will not last long, and there is more than a hint that, even if Fernando is not available for 2014, he just might be in 2015, when Honda joins the party.

Quite what the end game is remains to be seen, but apart from creating waves at Ferrari what this little saga does is tell the world that McLaren is as yet unconvinced by Sergio Perez, hired amid much fanfare last year. It also potentially creates a vacancy for another driver who might not be as committed elsewhere as Alonso. I asked Whitmarsh for his thoughts…

Q: Can you clarify the team’s position on Fernando Alonso?

“I was asked yesterday if we would like to sign him, and the answer is I’d love to have that challenge, and I’d love to have that opportunity. We’ll see what happens. At the moment I’m sure he’s under contract with Ferrari, and we’ll see what happens in the longer term, whether he wants to come back or doesn’t. At the moment I’m sure he’s focussed on doing the best job he can for his team. I think it’s one of those stories that has built today. Perhaps there is not much else happening here! I think any team principal if you asked them, ‘Would you like Fernando Alonso in your team?,’ the answer has got to be ‘Yes,’ if they’re sane. I don’t think he’s available right now, but if he ever becomes available, then we’ll see.”

Q: In the last few races you’ve always said we’ve got two great drivers and we’re going to keep them. All of a sudden there seems to be some doubt about Sergio…

“Our two drivers have done a great job in a very difficult year, and I expect we’ll have the same driver line-up next year, that’s my expectation. But we haven’t announced it yet, it’s not all done, and we’ll see what happens.”

Q: Why have you not announced it?

“I think we’ll see, there are other things going on at the moment… We’ll see what happens.”

Q: You said today that he hasn’t beaten Jenson as often as you wanted. That’s the first time we’ve heard any criticism from you.

“It’s an observation. He’s a young driver who wants to make his mark in F1. Jenson is a great benchmark. It’s not easy to beat him, but that’s what you’ve got to set out to try and do. I think he’s disappointed, I’ve had that conversation with him. But we’ll see. Maybe this weekend he can show that he can really do a good job.”

Q: You say there are a lot of other things going on – a cynical view would be that Mexican sponsorship might be related to the delay over his deal.

“No, it’s not a commercial issue at all. I think we want to make sure we’ve got the best driver line-up and everything’s straightforward. There’s no great urgency either. The most likely outcome is no change. But we’ll see.”

Q: You’ve said that you want to respect Ferrari’s position, but in this business it’s every man for himself, and you’ve taken drivers from other teams before.

“I’ve taken drivers in the past if there was a chink, but as far as I know, there’s not one yet!”

Q: Is 2015 slightly more realistic?

“I’ll turn that around. Kimi and Alonso is a dream team at its birth. But does it stay that way for long? I don’t know. You make that judgement yourself, but I think that’s quite an interesting one.”

Q: You could equally say Jenson and Fernando, two World Champions… What makes you think that is more manageable?

“I think it is. I think Jenson is an extraordinary team player.”

Q: It’s as simple as that?

“I think so. Both those drivers, I know them, I’ve seen them in a team, and I also know Jenson, so I do believe that’s a manageable one. But again I don’t have to speculate upon it at the moment. We expect to have the same driver line-up in all probability that we’ve got this year. I’m happy with that, but I’m not rushing into it right now.”

Q: You’ve made it clear that with Honda you’ve got more financial clout in the market. How much of a push from them is there to get two superstars?

“I think they want the two best drivers they can possibly get in the world. We do have more horsepower with them in that sense…”

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Raikkonen the best on the market, says Alonso

Fernando Alonso insisted today that he was totally happy with the Ferrari’s decision to re-hire Kimi Raikkonen, and had agreed that the Finn was the best driver available heading into 2014.

“I was always informed about the team movements,” said Alonso. “And it’s true that I think until the last moment the team didn’t make a decision. And then when they decided that it was better to change Felipe, they asked me what was my opinion, my opinion was he was the best out there in the market, and especially for a championship with many changes for next year, in terms of developing the car in January/February, a team mate that is many years in F1 was important. The team chose Kimi, so I’m happy.”

Alonso denied that having Raikkonen on board would make any difference to his current motivation.

“I think the motivation will be always similar, I think I will do my best all the time. Sometimes you deliver the results that people expect, sometimes not, but I don’t think anyone will push me more than what I push now.”

He didn’t see any drawbacks in having two World Champions in the same team: “I don’t think that makes any difference, it’s something that you keep writing these days and many people try to say, which is exactly the same as when I arrived here with Felipe – it will be a disaster, Felipe is in Ferrari many years already, it will be a very difficult relationship. And after four years he’s one of the best friends that I have here.

“Felipe, I consider him like a World Champion as well, it’s not that one title will change anything in the relationship or in the team in terms of pushing. Felipe was World Champion when he crossed the line in 2008, so it’s not that he’s a rookie driver.”

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Massa confirms he’s leaving Ferrari

Felipe Massa has used Twitter to tell the world that he is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season – paving the way for a Kimi Raikkonen announcement.

The Brazilian was expected to have a meeting with Luca di Montezemolo at Maranello tomorrow, but he appears to have pre-empted that or been given permission by the team to do so.

He wrote: “From 2014 I will no longer be driving for Ferrari. I would like to thank the team for all the victories and incredible moments experienced together. Thank you also to my wife and all of my family, to my fans and all my Sponsors.

“From each one of you I have always received a great support! Right now I want to push as hard as possible with Ferrari for the remaining 7 races. For next year, I want to find a team that can give me a competitive car to win many more races and challenge for the Championship which remains my greatest objective!”

As noted earlier today, Massa could in effect do a swap with Raikkonen and end up at Lotus, perhaps helped by the presence of sponsor Richard Mille, a company close to his manager Nicolas Todt.

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Analysis: Is Alonso still in the frame at RBR?

The consensus in the paddock at Spa was that Daniel Ricciardo had already got the nod for the second Red Bull seat, and Mark Webber added fuel to the fire by telling Australian TV that it was a done deal.

However Christian Horner continues to insist that the team has yet to decide who will get the drive.

Ricciardo is signed to Red Bull Racing anyway, and in effect the team could call on his services at any time up to the start of next season. Even if the Aussie doesn’t get the RBR job he will be in a Toro Rosso with an identical powertrain/gearbox package to the RB10, and thus potentially in a competitive seat.

There appears to be no logical reason why Red Bull would not have announced Ricciardo if he had already been guaranteed the drive. Indeed from a PR standpoint an early announcement would be a show of faith in the junior programme at a time when other options were available.

The bottom line is that Horner wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t continue to explore other interesting options, given that Ricciardo isn’t going anywhere. Two World Champions are currently without a 2014 contract – Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button – while sources continue to suggest that Fernando Alonso is still not 100% committed to Ferrari.

When this writer asked Bernie Ecclestone if he thought that Felipe Massa would be staying at Maranello, he replied: “They should be more worried about hanging on to Alonso…”

The value of having two experienced, proven winners on board for what will be a complicated season for all the teams is obvious, and at the same time if RBR takes a second top driver it will in turn damage a rival.

“There’s plenty of speculation about, but nothing has been signed yet,” said Horner at Spa. “So the situation is still as I said before the race, we’ve got time to contemplate who we’re going to put in the other seat, and there will be no announcement certainly before Monza.

“Mark obviously isn’t privy to all of the discussions with drivers. When there’s something to announce, we’ll certainly announce it. It will probably go on beyond Monza.”

Elaborating on Ricciardo’s situation, he said: “Both Toro Rosso drivers are on Red Bull Racing contracts. They’re on loan to Toro Rosso, so at any point they are available for us to call upon. So we don’t have to worry about those two, because they’re products of the Red Bull junior team, and the reason we’re taking the time is to look at what other options are about.

“Obviously they are very big shoes to fill next year. We want to field the strongest possible team that we can, so therefore it’s absolutely prudent to look at all the options that are available. It’s actually surprised us the options that are available that perhaps we didn’t think were.”

It’s widely assumed that it would be impossible for Sebastian Vettel to operate alongside a proven superstar, but Horner says that’s not an issue.

“To be honest with you Sebastian has no input or veto or requirement for any blessing over that second seat. He wants obviously to have a competitive team mate, because he wants to be pushed, as Mark has pushed him. He hasn’t voiced any opinions, strongly or otherwise, in any way. He sees it very much as a team position, and that’s very much the way it is.”

While many observers struggle to understand why Alonso might want to leave Ferrari, it may well be that he simply has fears about the competitiveness of the 2014 powertrain package.

It remains unclear in what circumstances Alonso might be able to walk away from what appears to be a solid Ferrari contract, unless it contains a generous performance clause that works in his favour – for example something that relates to driver and team having failed to win a World Championship over their four years together.

Of course as ever there are some potentially some games in the background, and it’s easy to suggest that Alonso is simply finding ways to motivate his current team, while Horner is destabilising the likes of Ferrari and Lotus by keeping the driver debate open.

However, it’s worth remembering that it’s dangerous to second guess what Alonso might do. Not many people expected him to leave his home at Renault for McLaren, or indeed walk away from an ultra competitive McLaren at the end of 2007 – even allowing for the rather awkward way that season unfolded, and the breakdown of his relationship with the team management.

As someone close to Fernando said at Spa, “At McLaren he finished a point behind the champion, and he still quit…”

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