Wednesday, July 3, 2013

German GP Preview - Lotus

He's never won in Germany, whether in the European or German Grand Prix; the latter of which has seen Kimi Raikkonen retire six times. After a top three placing with Lotus F1 Team last season, can this finally be the year for Kimi at the Nurburgring?

What is it about Germany that hasn't been kind to you in the past?
Kimi Raikkonen: I don't know, maybe I did something bad in a former life? I have always enjoyed driving in Germany, but the problem is that luck has never been on my side there and something has always happened to stop me winning. I've got four poles to show my speed on German soil, but six retirements at this race haven't been what I wanted.

Does it set you more of a challenge to have raced in Formula 1 in Germany 16 times, but never won?KR: Not really. A race is just a race and you always try to do your best. Obviously in the past both circuits - the Nurburgring and Hockenheim - have not been very kind to me, but I like them both and I have always been very competitive; in terms of pace if not maybe results. I've gone very well at the Nurburgring before, just never won. A couple of times I've had to stop while leading the race which always sends you home with a bad feeling. Hopefully I can finally get everything right this time. Last year we made the top three in Hockenheim, so let's wait and see how it goes at the Nurburgring for the first time with this team.

Things looked so promising in Silverstone until right at the end; give us your view
It was a disappointing end to the weekend for sure. Things were going pretty well in the race, but it was a mistake not to switch to new tyres when the safety car came out. I tried to hold on, but with tyres that were maybe twenty laps older than the others it was impossible to keep them behind at the end. It's a shame as we had good pace and looked set for a pretty easy P2, but this is racing sometimes.

On the plus side you finally broke Michael Schumacher's record for points finishes…
It makes no difference to the Championship, so I'm really not interested in that.

You had a pretty intense moment behind Jean-Eric Vergne; were you nervous at all?
It wasn't ideal having bits of rubber thrown at your helmet for sure, but risk is all part of the game. It wasn't his or the tyres' fault; if you have sharp edges on a kerb as seemed to be the case there last weekend then these things can happen no matter what tyres you have. It didn't change our race anyway.

It's not been an easy run of late; does that affect your mindset?
No. It's three races now where we haven't had the result we maybe expect, but hopefully if we can have a bit more luck and also get rid of some of the mistakes we'll be able to get back to the front.

What's the Nurburgring like to race?
It's pretty good, but probably not as much fun as the old one. It should suit us, but the fact is you need a really good car to be competitive there. Most of all you need good traction out of the corners and a stable car under braking. We're pretty reasonable in both these areas. We have had our issues with cooler weather and unfortunately it's not usually that warm at the Nurburgring, but we'll just see what we get and get on with it.

What's the target for this weekend?
We never promise anything beforehand. A podium would be a positive result and a step in the right direction. We missed that at Silverstone, and it would be good to get back to the top positions. The season is still long and the leaders of the championship are ahead of us. Realistically, all I can do is to do my very best in each race.

Will you tell us the story about your hair?
No. But if I get on the podium in Germany you will see it.

After a frustrating British Grand Prix, Romain Grosjean has his sights set on the Nurburgring; the scene of two podium finishes - including a win - when he last visited the track.

How do you like the Nurburgring?
Romain Grosjean:
It's quite a nice track with a quite a lot to it. There's a really interesting mix of corners which means you have plenty to think about over the course of a lap; you're certainly kept busy! The first section relies on mechanical grip and Turn 1 can be interesting at the start of the race if people go too deep into the corner. It can also be a good overtaking opportunity during the race too. After that there are some higher speed corners down to the hairpin - which is another good place you can overtake - then nice high speed stuff for the rest of the lap. You need a well-balanced car so I think we should go pretty well.

What's your past form at the circuit?
This will be my first time racing there in Formula 1, but I've raced at the track previously in F3 and the GP2 Series. Last time I raced there - 2011 in the GP2 Series - I scored a podium and a win so my most recent memories of the circuit are certainly good.

Would you like to have raced on the old Nurburgring?
It's quite some circuit and it must have been amazing to have raced there. I can't imagine what it would be like if we raced the current Formula 1 cars there. For starters can you imagine how long the set-up meetings would be with all those corners to talk about?! The Thursday morning track walk would be pretty epic too!

How was your British Grand Prix?
It wasn't the best of races; quite a frustrating one in fact. We had a problem with the front wing which got worse over the course of the race, and ultimately we lost a big part of it. There was a lot of vibration and it became really difficult to drive, so in the end it was best to retire because of safety considerations. Before that, things weren't going quite to plan and we were suffering with tyre performance issues related to the front wing. The safety cars didn't really go our way either so it's a race I'd rather forget.

Was it good to out-qualify Kimi for the first time this season?
Of course, you always want to be faster than your team-mate so it was good to be in front of him on the grid. We both had different upgrade packages on our cars, so it was good to see we were able to get similar speeds out of them. Of course, we want some more speed too, but there are still more parts to come and we're still learning about the latest upgrades so there's potential yet.

What do you think can be achieved from the next few races?
We've got new parts on the car and we certainly have the pace for some strong results. The last few races have been frustrating for various reasons, so if we can get a few solid weekends we should be able to get some decent results and score good points.

What are your thoughts on the current tyre situation?
Well it looks like I could be busy at the Young Driver Test in a few weeks' time if race drivers are allowed to take part. Certainly, Silverstone was a very unusual situation and I know that myself and Kimi were being asked to stay off the kerbs as it was thought that using them on certain corners wasn't helping the situation. No-one wants tyre failures and I know all the teams and the sport are working with Pirelli to put this right. I'm sure there will be a satisfactory solution soon.

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