Kimi Räikkönen: “The greatest day of my career came at Interlagos”
After the highs of Abu Dhabi, sixth position in Austin didn’t quite deliver the wanted digestif for our Iceman. No matter, as he now heads to one of his favourite racing destinations…
After that the car was okay and I could get past some of the others. The difficult part of the race was when it became cloudy. It got too cold and the tyres stopped working for me.
Then it was sunny and they started to work again, so really we were just depending on the tyres and that’s what made all the difference.
The circuit was giving good racing and there were a lot of places to overtake; for us the issue was just keeping heat in the tyres."
You had a pretty exciting battle with Jenson Button… "Yes it was good and I enjoy that type of racing. Unfortunately, Jenson caught me when it was cloudy and the tyres weren’t working so well, otherwise I’d have put up a better fight and maybe he wouldn’t have got past even though he was on much newer tyres.
That’s how it goes. We struggled with the tyres all weekend; we set good times at the start of the race with the softer tyres, but lost the heat with the hards in the middle of the race and then they picked up again at the end."
What are your memories from Interlagos? "There is no doubt about it; the greatest day of my career came at Interlagos when I won the World Championship in 2007 and that means I have very fond memories of this place.
All in all it has been good to me. I have finished here every year since 2003 and been on the podium five times. Actually, in 2003 they gave the winners’ trophy to me but afterwards it turned out I only got P2.
I have lived some of the best moments of my life at this circuit, and that’s something nobody can take away. That’s why it is one of my favourite places to go back to."
What’s the main challenge of the track? "To do well in São Paulo you need to have a very solid weekend without problems. Obviously, qualifying on the front row is very important as is a good strong all round package.
Also, the engine is important for getting up the hill. I think the key factor is once again downforce, but it’s also important to have a stable car under braking. The final corner is very important to get right, because it leads onto the steep main straight.
How do you rate this track? "I like the old fashioned type of circuits. Interlagos is not in the same group as Spa or Suzuka, but it’s challenging and we run the laps anti clock-wise which is different from normal.
The atmosphere from the crowds is always very good and you never know how the race will be as the weather changes quickly and often."
Is it nice to reach race twenty in your comeback season without any DNFs? "I like racing, so it’s good to be on track as much as possible; no-one likes ending a race early. Our record shows that the team can build a reliable car and that I know how to drive it.
The last round of the season means that it’s the last chance to enjoy that feeling for some time. That’s what a driver loves; to put a helmet on and go racing.
Every time I get in the car I want to fight for victory and this is no different; I want to celebrate a good result with the team in Brazil. That would give the best feeling for the winter and also for next season."
Romain Grosjean: “Interlagos suits my driving style”
It was another fighting performance through the field for our man Romain in Austin. Now he looks to end his season on a high at a track he loves, and one he thinks should suit the E20…
Is there a specific part of the track you like the most? "Everything! It’s interesting with its ups and downs. If I had to pick favourite parts of Interlagos, I would say the first and last corners; they are very fast and as a driver I really enjoy them! It’s an old style track so very hard to pick out a single element; I’d say everything is pretty good."
Weather is usually quite a talking point in Brazil with the altitude playing a factor; how will you approach the weekend? "To be honest the weather and altitude is not something we can change and therefore we just have to deal with it. We will plan our strategy well and just aim to be in a position to fit the right tyres at the right time.
The good news is that Brazil is closer to our normal time zone so jet lag will be less hard to cure when we go back home!"
You had a pretty exciting race in the USA last weekend; including overtaking Kimi and Michael Schumacher at the same time! "Yes, and with eight world titles between them it felt pretty good! Kimi had a go at Michael through turn eleven, then had a bad exit whereas I had a good one.
Michael pushed Kimi out to the right meaning I could go for the opening on the left. It was not the hardest overtaking manoeuvre of the year, but I was in the right place at the right time and I’m told it looked pretty good on TV.
The race itself was good; the car showed strong pace, although there were a couple of frustrations when I got stuck behind a Force India and then spun on lap seven."
A gearbox change put you back five places on the grid; how frustrating was that? "Strangely enough I was not actually that frustrated; we were working well and managed to recover. It is what it is; we just focused on qualifying and trying to get back to the level we were achieving earlier in the season… and it worked."
Do you think things would have been very different if you hadn’t spun? "It was not exactly what we’d want. It was hard after the spin coming back through the pack, but I knew it was possible to do it.
We had to set a good pace but also take care of everything on the car; including the tyres to try not to finish on the rims! It worked and I think we made another good improvement in Austin. We should hopefully take our qualifying and race pace to Brazil."
You didn’t look to be driving as someone who is worried about every possible incident… "I’ve learnt that you can over-compensate by trying to avoid any potential incident. We’re all racers on track so that’s what you do.
I don’t want the reputation of being an easy touch and I’m certainly not an open door on track; I’ll fight for every position. I’ve left a memo: I won’t leave the door open, and I’m looking to race."
Eric Boullier: “There’s better to come”
Brazil caps off an intense, emotional and rewarding season for Lotus F1 Team as Team Principal Eric Boullier reflects in the build-up to the season’s final Grand Prix
What would you like to achieve in Brazil to round off the year? "We obviously want to do our best without detracting from the nice championship battle between Fernando [Alonso] and Sebastian [Vettel].
If we can be solidly in the points and ideally fighting for a podium it would be nice.
Although there is nothing left to play for in terms of the Constructors’ Championship for us, Kimi is still in a tight battle for P3 in the Drivers’ standings so we’ll be going all out to make sure he keeps that spot.
We’ll be aiming to end the season on a high and carry that momentum through the winter break."
How do you think the team performed last time out? "The result in Austin wasn’t as good as Abu Dhabi obviously, but with both cars in the points we were quite satisfied.
The first part of the race created some expectations that we could have been in a position to fight for a better result, however the race didn’t play out that way. We had a small problem in Kimi’s pit stop and lost time there.
Romain made a mistake behind Nico Hulkenberg and lost the opportunity to do a better job, but he had a very strong race from there and came back well.
It’s good to gain some points, plus we know we have better performance still to come from the car and the ability to achieve stronger results, so we’re looking forward to Brazil."
Would you judge the sports’ return to the USA as successful? "I think it was a great race and a great event; there were many fans in attendance and a lot of people watching around the world.
The circuit also produced some good racing with a lot of overtaking; much of it involving our drivers in fact! I think it’s definitely a huge success for America’s comeback to Formula 1 in a country which is an important market for the sport commercially.
We’re already looking forward to returning next year."
Brazil has always been a favourite too? "If you look over the years we have seen some fantastic races at Interlagos and the fans are always very enthusiastic.
The circuit is unique and it seems to always deliver something special. We hope to be able to offer something to all the team’s fans to end the season on high."
It’s been a long year; Abu Dhabi was a highlight obviously, but which aspects stand out in your mind? "The win in Abu Dhabi is obviously a highlight.
Then I would say the fact that the team has done such a good job with the car and we have been able to race consistently in the points; scoring a lot of podiums and having Kimi back and on top form.
He’s done a great job this year and I’m sure he’s going to be a very strong contender again in 2013. If we can keep Kimi as consistent and strong as he has been this season and start the year off as well as we’re ending it I think it will be a whole new story.
Romain too has shown that he has the pace to run with the very best in the sport. He still has a few areas which need to be polished, but it’s also been a fantastic return for him."
How much more is there to come from the team? "It’s not only on track that we have been making good progress, behind the scenes too there are many positives which are encouraging and intensifying our efforts. Keep watching us; there’s better to come."
Lotus F1 Team