Raikkonen about his F1 return, Pirelli tyres and rallying

By on Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Many F1 fans had long been hoping for the Iceman's return

In an interview with Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat, 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen talked about his return to Formula One after a two year absence. Raikkonen announced on Tuesday that he will be returning to Formula One with Lotus Renault GP next season on a two year contract.

The 'Iceman' revealed that it felt good to return to F1 after two years of competing in the World Rally Championship, saying, "The fact was that I missed racing. The longer I was away from F1, the more I wanted to go back there."

When asked why he chose to join Lotus Renault, the Finn states, "We talked to Williams for a long time and when nothing happened, we turned our attention to Renault and after that everything quickly progressed within about three weeks. Now I have a contract and I am glad that I can race in F1 again."

Raikkonen also revealed that he is planning to visit the team's Enstone-based factory on Friday and following that, he will attend the team's Christmas party. Interestingly, the former world champion also mentioned that he spoke to Renault team principal Eric Boullier for the first time on the phone on Monday, a day before his return was announced.

F1 has introduced several changes since Raikkonen last raced in 2009, with Pirelli replacing Bridgestone as the tyre supplier and the introduction of DRS. However, the Finn is not too perturbed about the challenge of returning to a F1 car.

"It is probably not too difficult. I have driven F1 cars for a long time and I haven't had more than a two year break. The last time I was there we had KERS and we already had a lot of buttons on the steering wheel back then. The biggest difference will be the tyres. It will take more time to learn how get them working properly. It was more difficult when I went from Michelin tyres on the McLaren to Bridgestone tyres on the Ferrari. I haven't raced for two years with F1 tyres so I don't have the most recent feeling with them."

Ex-McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa is also making a return to F1 next year with HRT. De la Rosa was involved in some tyre testing with Pirelli after he was replaced at Sauber by Nick Heidfeld last year.

"I talked my friend Pedro de la Rosa and from what he told me, it feels pretty good. I hear that the tyres have a lot of grip right from the outset and from my point of view, it is important that the front end works," Raikkonen is quoted as saying.

Raikkonen has the possibility of testing this year's car

Not the biggest fan of simulators while he was in F1, Raikkonen is allowed to test Renault's 2011 car as long as it is fitted with GP2 tyres.

"I can drive this year's car as long as it has GP2 tyres. I guess I will start getting used to F1 through that. I don't exactly know about next year's schedule. The new car will come whenever it comes and then we will test it."

Raikkonen denies that his F1 comeback was due to the fact that he was bored with rallying, leaving the door open that he could take part in some rallies in the future. However, with former Renault driver Robert Kubica's tragic accident still fresh in the minds of Renault's bosses, it is unlikely that Raikkonen will be allowed to take part in rallies while under contract at Renault.

"I would still like to drive in rallies. But it is different when you race against other drivers on the track," said Raikkonen.

Raikkonen claims that it would have taken him a long time to reach the podium in WRC, even though on occasion he was able to match the stage times of the top rally drivers. "It would have required a lot of time. But faster stage times would only have been possible if I could test as much as the factory drivers."

If there is one thing that he dislikes about rallying, is how much time one can lose after a small driving error.

"That is the most unfortunate thing about rallying, how big of a penalty you can pay for the smallest mistake. If you have a small off but there are many stages to go until you reach the service park, that mistake is reflected on many of your stage times. It's a bit stupid that you can continue rallying even though you have already retired. You can't continue the race in F1 anymore if something happens."

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