Jean, are you excited about the news that
Kimi Raikkonen is returning to F1 next year with
Lotus Renault GP?
Itís fantastic news. Kimi has more natural speed
than just about anyone who has ever raced a
Grand Prix car, and if heís coming back itís
because he wants to do it, he misses F1, and he
believes he can do well. He has had a short
break, which was a little bit forced by Ferrari.
I think he was fed up with the system and wanted
to take time out, which I can totally understand.
But now heís coming back, with Lotus, so itís
Kimiís speed was never in question, but there
were concerns he failed to develop the car as
Michael Schumacher had done before him. Is that
a concern for you now?
Michael was brilliant at that, but it isnít
working for him now at Mercedes and I think this
is a reflection of how F1 has developed in
recent years and re-prioritized. Now you just
need to focus on having a quick driver, someone
who does the job. The great thing with Kimi is
he extracts the maximum from a quick car. When
the car was good at McLaren and Ferrari he was
always winning. LRGP will expect him to extract
the maximum from the Lotus as well.
Itís sure to fire up the workforce at Enstone,
isnít it, having a world champion in the car?
F1 teams need a driver who will consistently set
lap times that are 100 percent on the edge. That
is what a driver of Kimiís caliber can do, to
dance on the edge and never fall off. From that,
the engineers get a baseline. They understand
the true speed of their car and can make changes
accordingly. It eradicates any doubt. I expect
Kimi will be a very valuable tool indeed. But I
donít expect a lot of talking outside the car!
Iím sure he hasnít changed a bit.
Letís talk about the Sao Paulo race. Bruno
Senna was given a drive-thru penalty after he
came together with Michael Schumacher. Did you
think that was unfair?
Definitely, yes. It was a 50/50 accident, so why
penalize one of them? Both cars were compromised
Ė Bruno with a broken front wing and Michael
with a rear puncture. To then penalize one of
the drivers in this situation kills the spirit
of racing. The stewards should have let it go.
Vitaly Petrov started the year on a high with
his podium in Australia and finished the season
tenth in the Driversí World Championship. How
well do you think he did?
Heís been very competitive when the car is quick,
and itís been more difficult for him in the
second half of the season. He did a fantastic
first grand prix but he seems to suffer more
when the car is not perfect.
Lotus Renault GP started the year on the
podium but struggled towards the end. Did the
designers take a few wrong turns?
The R31 was extremely aggressive in terms of
design. At the start of the season, Red Bullís
designer Adrian Newey said that the most
creative car out there was the Lotus Renault GP.
When the best designer in the world says that,
it means a lot, and at the start of the year
LRGP were brilliant. Then the exhaust-blowing
rules changed, and that hurt the team a lot. We
were penalized more heavily than any other team.
To finish fifth in the championship is superb.
How did you rate the F1 World Championship
Even though Red Bull Racing was dominant
throughout, I thought it was a very interesting
season and I enjoyed the races very much. Out of
those 19 races, only three or four were a bit
boring; I was on the edge of my seat for the
rest. Weíve seen lots of overtaking, lots of
incidents, and there was tough competition out
there, particularly between McLaren and Ferrari.
Lotus Renault GP were very competitive at the
start of the season as well, so overall I really
Which race stood out for you?
My shoes are still drying after the Canadian
Grand Prix, so that was memorable not least for
the incredible race we saw. I could have done
without the two-hour red flag delay in the
middle, but that race was really exciting and
itís always great to see a change of the lead on
the last lap.
Sebastian Vettel was the class of the field,
but who would you nominate as your Man Of The
Apart from Vettel, who did an unbelievable job,
the award should go to Jenson Button. I was not
surprised by his performance, because heís been
a world champion, but the way he managed to be
there all the time, even when he was struggling
with set-up, and still get good points was
impressive. He also pulled some great overtaking
moves, so he was aggressive when he needed to be
and smooth when he needed to be, adapting to the
Pirelli tyres quicker than most. What a mature
performance, and all the more impressive when
your team-mate is Lewis Hamilton and Jenson is
still, essentially, the new boy. I believe 2011
was even more impressive than his
championship-winning year, given that he didnít
have the best car and his team-mate was Hamilton