Archive for the ‘Raikkonen’ Category

It was Alfa Romeo who won the first ever F1 Grand Prix at Silverstone, Ferrari won the second. Will Sunday see the Scuderia claim victory in the final race there? Never say never, but they were not as competitive in Turkey as many had imagined they would be.
Massa pits st.

However for Silverstone they have some upgrades for the car which were tested in a straight line aerodynamic test on Monday by Felipe Massa. The Brazilian was driving a new chassis, which has a lower centre of gravity and is slightly lighter than the previous one, like the chassis Raikkonen has been using for the last two races. The car is sufficiently different that it has required a new crash test.

In addition Massa tried some new parts on the car, including a new front wing and new front suspension designed to get the weight further forward and get more out of the front tyres. This should help them in qualifying, particularly.

The car also has a revised KERS system, which is lighter and one hopes, more reliable. There are also some modifications to the sidepods and wheel covers.

I saw Felipe this afternoon in London and pointed out that forecasts say it is unlikely to rain on Sunday. He was saying that with this car he would not have the difficulties in the wet he encountered last year, as this car should really get the tyres working in the wet.

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Here’s some video I shot of the Ferrari event this morning. After reflecting on his recent misfortunes in the early races of the season, Massa talks about his feelings on the proposed winner takes all points system. Before you ask, the lady on the right is Dr Lisa Lilley, Shell’s fuel doctor.

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Stefano Domenicali leads the Ferrari team into world championship battle next week for only the second year. The jovial 43 year old is the modern face of Ferrari, the man who has maintained the team at the highest level of competitiveness despite the departures of Schumacher, Brawn, Todt, Byrne and Martinelli.

Today in Gazzetta dello Sport he gives an interview which shows the team’s state of mind going into this campaign. Main rival McLaren is behind, but for how long? BMW and Toyota are a new threat and of course the Brawn team have a head-start, but Stefano thinks their diffuser is not within the rules. He hopes the FIA will clarify the legality in Melbourne, that all the teams will act responsibly and that the result won’t be decided in a court after the race.

But the most interesting part is what he says, and more importantly what he implies, about his driver, Kimi Raikkonen.
“He seems motivated and thinner, apparently by three kilos. He knows that for him, as a driver and as a Ferrari man, that this will be an important season. He’s bright enough to understand that.”

And important for Ferrari to evaluate his future? “Most certainly.”

You don’t need to be a genius at reading between the lines to get what Domenicali is saying here. A repeat of last year’s performance would signal the end of Kimi at Ferrari.

In contrast, here’s what he says about Felipe Massa’s ‘state of health’,
“Very good. He’s totally matured as a driver. A year ago he set off with doubts hanging around him, now he’s going into this championship to win it. And he can do it.”

The interview was done by Pino Allievi, the veteran Gazzetta writer who broke the story at New Year about Alonso signing a Ferrari contract for 2011 with a clause for 2010 if Kimi underperforms. Here he makes no reference to Alonso. He doesn’t need to. It’s very clear what the situation is from Kimi’s point of view.

Other nuggets of note; Domenicali considers the points U turn last week “embarrassing”.

He says, ‘I fear Ross Brawn because he is a smart guy. We know his strengths and we know in what areas he can make a real difference.”

His greatest fear for the season is unreliability, “We’ve paid for that in the past. Also understanding how to manage the tyres, because in qualifying you’ll always use the softs, but in the race there’s a bigger difference between the two types. Then we also have to develop the car without any [track] tests.”

He flags up two things which will influence the racing this year; the raising of the pit lane speed limit to 100km/h, which will make pit stops faster and the freeing up of safety car rules ( you can come in when you want).

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Kimi Raikkonen wound up his Bahrain test yesterday with a mixed day in which he set a competitive time, stopped for four hours with a KERS problem and then talked about the new Ferrari. This is an important car in Kimi’s career story because he really has to get on well with it if he is to stay with Ferrari in future.

It’s no secret that he didn’t get on well with last year’s car and at times it left him scratching his head about whether he had lost his ‘gift’. Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali stressed at the end of last year that they would do everything possible to get the best from Kimi and give him the material he needs.

Kimi said that the car is as fast as last year’s despite the reduced downforce, but that, “It’s still too early to say whether I get on better with the F60 than I did with the F2008, too little mileage and above all none of the updates which will be on the car soon. But it’s started well and we have improved in every area.”

The KERS stoppage, due to overheating, was interesting and I’m beginning to wonder whether anyone is going to start the season using their KERS system. I know that sounds nuts, but the teams themselves are asking the question. It’s a very new and very complex technology and there will be a critical mass whereby if enough of them give out the vibes that they’re not going to run it in Melbourne, then the rest could follow suit on the basis that it’s the same for everyone!

That would not suit Max Mosley, for whom F1’s move to green technology is an important story in the season build up.

Ferrari has done almost 2400km over the five days it has been running in Bahrain, not as many as the Toyota, which looks pretty bulletproof as well as fast.

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It’s great that F1 and its fans can once again focus on cars and racing, rather than chew through a diet of bad news about F1’s economic crisis. The crisis hasn’t gone away of course, but we are now in the season of hope; new cars, new dreams and new expectations.

The Ferrari media-fest continues, now the protagonists have moved up to the Madonna di Campiglio ski resort for the annual press event known as “Wrooom!”

Over the next couple of days Massa and Raikkonen will elaborate on the brief comments they made at Monday’s launch, but today was the turn of the team principal Stefano Domenicali and he did not disappoint, speaking of the championship ahead and the drivers.

The most eye-catching quote regarded Kimi. ” He has the capacity to isolate himself,” he said, echoing Michael Schumacher’s comments from last season. “It’s like he lives on another planet. I’ve never seen him suffer from pressure either from the media or from other drivers. Don’t expect him to smile or speak Italian, but he will show his quality right from the outset.”

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