F1: Exclusive interview – Kimi Raikkonen
“There is no point looking back – I only look forward.”
The saying goes that second place makes you first of the losers. McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen has just finished runner-up in the drivers’ championship for the second time in three years. We spoke to the usually taciturn Finn to find out just how he is coping:
Q: Many consider you to be the best driver in the field. If that is so, are you bitter that the best man doesn’t necessarily win, especially after 2003?
Kimi Raikkonen: It’s racing, I’m not bitter about it. We wanted to win the titles, and we fought hard and produced some great racing and victories, but this year it didn’t happen. My congratulations go to Fernando (Alonso) and Renault and we are looking forward to next year.
Q: If you could start the season over, what would you do differently?
KR: There is no point in looking back, I only look forward. Of course we wanted to win the championships and that didn’t happen, but it was a good fight for the whole season. I won seven races, and Juan Pablo (Montoya) took three, which shows how competitive we were as a team.
Q: Strategy plays an important role in winning races. Did you always agree with the team’s strategy?
KR: Strategy does play an important role, as much so as all parts of the team, and yes I agreed with our strategy decisions this season.
Q: McLaren won 10 races this season – six in a row prior to China – and yet the team won neither title. Do you feel that luck has deserted you?
KR: I guess we have been unlucky, in places like the Nurburgring for me and Spa for Juan Pablo. However, as I said earlier, you can’t look back and there is also no point in speculating about what ifs.
Q: Are you happy with the current qualifying system? If so, why, and if not, what would you like to see implemented instead?
KR: I have been penalised this year because of the qualifying rules, but I don’t have any issues with it. I don’t really think much about all the different rules and how they can change. I am there to race and I will race within whatever the rules are. It does mean you have to have the luck with weather for example, but if it was changed, you would need to have the luck with something else.
Q: Inevitably, everyone is already looking ahead to 2006. Will you be starting next season on a high after all the improvements that have been made by McLaren this year?
KR: The MP4-20 is a great car, it is very quick and handles well, and so I guess we do have a good place to move forward from for the 2006 car. Work has been taking place at the facilities in the UK and Germany for many months now, and we have run the V8 Mercedes-Benz engine at a test. Everyone is pushing forward.
Q: What will the ‘private’ Kimi Raikkonen be doing over the winter?
KR: Take a break away from the track, relax at home in Switzerland, spend some time in Finland, nothing too much. I will keep training, as winter is when I build up my fitness for the season. Then in January I will get back to testing.