Nancy Knapp Schilke, F1 correspondent
Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 FIA Formula 1 World Champion, is ready to take on the 2012 season after a two-day test in the 2010 Renault R30. Yesterday was the first time in two years that the Finn turned laps in an F1 car and he said, “It was a good first day! Having not driven a Formula 1 car for two years and obviously with a new team, there is a lot to get used to. I’m happy because I was pretty quick to get back in the groove.”
The Lotus F1 Team driver put down 171 laps over the two day private test on the Circuito Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain, which totaled 666 km. Raikkonen said, “It went well today and overall the two days have been helped me a lot.”
It was great to be driving an F1 car again and from that respect I feel very positive.
The first day was to allow him to get back the feel of a high performance F1 car, but the R30 will be different from this year's Lotus Renault. Raikkonen turned 300 km while he was sorting out setup changes. It also allowed the Finn to get to know his engineers before the official Formula One test days in Jerez.
The team finished early today due to the fact that everything on their list was checked off. In the morning, they were following the same plan from the first day with setup changes. That changed in the afternoon when Raikkonen laid down low fuel qualifying simulation runs before they set the R30 with a full tank of fuel, completing 27 laps.
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Engineer said, “We enjoyed another good day with Kimi in Valencia. Kimi’s pace improved from yesterday as we would expect and we completed several start, pitstop and clutch simulations. We were even able to finish early as we completed our programme ahead of time. Overall it has been a productive and valuable two days.”
The Finn is making his return to Formula One and even though he sat out the 2010 and ’11 seasons to play elsewhere, out of his 156 F1 starts, Raikkonen earned 18 Grand Prix wins and 18 podium finishes. Add his 16 poles and the fact that he has notched 35 fastest lap times. In 2007 and ’08, he held the record for the fastest laps in a season. His nickname, the Ice Man, was very noticeable when he scored his title in 2007 by just one point over the two McLaren drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.
“I learnt about working with the team and the engineers which means I can focus on the new car once we get to Jerez for the first official test. It was great to be driving an F1 car again and from that respect I feel very positive,” said the Finn.