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Raikkonen hits the track in Spain
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Posted By: James Allen  |  23 Jan 2012   |  10:05 am GMT  |  75 comments

Kimi Raikkonen’s comeback is go; the Finn is driving today the first of two days in Valencia at the wheel of a two year old Renault R30.

It’s the car with which Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov campaigned the 2010 World Championship.

It’s the first time Raikkonen has driven an F1 car since the 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. He covered 300kms on his first day and will do more tomorrow.

“Having not driven a Formula 1 car for two years and obviously with a new team, there is a lot to get used to,” said Raikkonen. “I’m happy because I was pretty quick to get back in the groove. Obviously you get more into the zone with the more laps you complete, as you discover more about the car and the tyres. Knowing when to turn, brake, and when to get on the power didn’t take long at all. The good thing is that running today gives me something to compare the new car to, so I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully we’ll be fast straight away and it’s going to be an interesting season.”

Although testing is strictly controlled in modern F1, teams can let drivers run in cars which are two years old. They must use a special Pirelli demonstration tyre, so that they don’t gain any specific gain over rivals from the testing.

It is a mechanism designed for the specific purpose of evaluating drivers or bringing them up to speed after an absence, as in Raikkonen’s case.


So much changes so quickly in F1, however. Since 2010 we’ve had the introduction of the DRS wing, specified weight distribution front to rear, changes to the nose and front wing.

But it will give Raikkonen a good feel for the speed and handling again and prepare him for his first test in the new Lotus Renault car at Jerez in two weeks time.

Testing is controlled for reasons of cost; it costs around $1500 per lap to run an F1 car. And if there was more than the three pre-season tests plus the new in-season test at Mugello in May, then teams would need to employ an entirely separate test team.

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75 Comments
  1. MC says:

    James, can you tell us more? I’m sure it’s not very precise to say “$1,500 per lap” because many of those cost are accrued whether you run 500 laps or only 10. How much of that $1,500/lap can be attributed to transporting people and equipment from Enstone to Jarez? How much would be track fees? What actual costs can be directly attributed to laps run? I’d bet that the cost per lap is actually quite low by comparison.

    1. James Allen says:

      THat’s a figure I was given for the approximate cost of running a car, taking everything into account.

      1. Why did the team go all the way to Jerez. Would it not of been cheaper to test in the UK or at the very least Northern France?

        Or are the team moving stuff out to spain and just leaving it there?

      2. Justin Bieber says:

        I think its obvious!!

        UK – Northern France in the winter = cold & wet
        Jerez in the winter = Sunny & warm

      3. Gabi says:

        The weather is usually much better in Jerez in winter and there are a lot of motorsport and accomodation facilities nearby, so there are a lot of cars and bikes testing off season there. In addition, there are direct flights from Britain to Jerez airport and logistics is much easier being in Europe and not Middle East or South Hemisphere (you know, South Africa, Australia or Brazil have F1 circuits and is austral summer, but are mach further from teams’ headquarters)

    2. Phil R says:

      Makes you wonder if it would be worth taking 2 cars to the third test, as there would surely be economy savings, and you would just not run the final test. Also get the benefits of comparative data by running two cars on track at the same time.

      Wasn’t one of the big costs the internals of the gearbox’s, and so why they moved to long life gearbox’s. I think remember Patrick Head complaining about all the tyre testing they had to do for Michelin, and that they threw away the innards of the gearbox just to keep the tyre war going…

      1. James Allen says:

        Only one car allowed at tests

      2. Phil R says:

        Ah sorry, I was a bit ambiguous there, I meant the FIA cancelling the final test but allowing 2 cars at the third test on the basis its cheaper to pay for 1 bigger test than 2 different ones.

      3. MISTER says:

        @Phil R
        I think is better to have only one car and a final test. This way, the teams can look over data and make changes and use different setups next time.
        Also, if something doesn’t work quite right, they have time to perfect that particular part of the car.

      4. Robert s says:

        Would like to see two car tests for the final winter test. Like you mentioned could see the benefits!

    3. Aaron95 says:

      Aside from the consumables like fuel, tyres, enginges, other parts etc., to run an F1 car you need about 30 mechanics on site, track hire, medical support, expenses of getting there, hotels etc. Even if we are generous and assume the teams can do 100 laps a day, I can see how it would easily add up to $1500 a lap.

  2. Arnie S says:

    Lets hope that he comes up to speed. Raikkonen at his best will be a great addition to the starting grid – with the most WDC ever!

    1. Thejesh SuGow says:

      +1

    2. Kevin Green says:

      WDC???

      1. Google ‘F1 WDC’

      2. Kevin Green says:

        yeah that is exactly why I asked because my pet cat knows kimi has only one drivers crown in F1 and its very hard to work out if Arnie is trying to state a fact or if he has been smoking the crack pipe and is putting forward a disillusioned prodiction can see him running up near the front possibly getting a title or 2 if lets say he lands in a car in a marginally better state as the Redbulls have been over the last couple of years But really cant see the what was Renaults getting there again any time soom. Back to sleep Arnie.

      3. He meant it will be the grid with the most number of WDC’s ever.

      4. Peter says:

        He means there has never been a season with more WDC, i.e champions on the grid than this year. Schumi, Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton, Button and Räikkönen.

      5. Pat M says:

        :) I am guessing that Arnie meant that the GRID will have more World Championship Drivers than ever. I would have to be smoking too much crack to think he meant Kimi :)

      6. Arnie S says:

        Pat M is correct regarding the number of WDC. I seldom smoke crack :)

      7. Kevin Green says:

        Cheers for clearing that one up Arnie was starting to think you were a bit of a fun loving criminal :)

      8. Gareth D says:

        I think he means the most World Drivers Champions ever, as in there is 6 this year which is more than there ever has been.

        At least I hope that’s what he means …… that crack pipe does look appealing……

  3. Zippy says:

    Wasn’t the fixed weight distribution explicitly for 2011 only, while teams got used to the Pirellis?

    1. AndyB says:

      It was meant to be for 2011 only, and one of the awful changes made for this year and next by the WMSC at least is to stick with this fixed weight distribution. So much for using it only as a “transition management solution”…

    2. Correct although i think they may have elected to keep it for 2012. Im not too sure, but originally it was only for 2011 to avoid expensive redesigns to cars when guessing for Pirelli tires.

    3. AuraF1 says:

      It states in the regulations that the fixed weight distribution is for 2012 and 2013 as well and will be removed in 2014. I guess it’s to force some continuity in design and keep the costs to Pirelli down?

      1. James Allen says:

        It’s to keep everyone’s costs down and so no one gets an advantage.

      2. Rich C says:

        They could do *that by just proceeding to make it a spec series. Then NObody would have a design advantage.

      3. brooksy007 says:

        James,

        Does this reg regarding weight distribution have a negative impact on heavier drivers? Since the car may be setup/built with only 1 driver in mind! Like vettel and webber? Could this also be why some drivers find the pirellis tougher to make perform well for longer?

      4. James Allen says:

        I didn’t hear that last season. It’s more so no one team gets a huge advantage that the other’s can’t replicate.

  4. Hamfarm says:

    $1500 per lap?! How is that figure calculated? Worth a feature on its own James.

  5. Dmitry says:

    Kimi, good to have you back!

    I know I want too much, but some lap times from his test will be nice…

    1. Ian Hamilton says:

      with it being a closed test session I doubt Lotus will release any of Kimi’s lap times unless of course he is smashing lap records

      1. Rich C says:

        You think there won’t be spies out there with long lenses and stopwatches?

      2. terryshep says:

        Not a lot of point, there’s no history of F1 at the Ricardo di Tormo circuit. Valencia boasts two racing circuits.

      3. devilsadvocate says:

        No need for a long lense, find a fixed spot on track and click the watch everytime he passes and just hope he doesn’t pit every lap otherwise there would be a lot of people saying “I told you so” when the times got posted.

      4. Sideways says:

        The lap times will be “far away” because he has to run the very hard demo-tyres. It’s not possible to reach good lap times with them.

      5. terryshep says:

        Fi does not use the Circuito Ricardo di Tormo so there is no previous time to compare. Kimi will never have seen the place before, either. It is essentially a MotoGP & Superbike racing track and nothing to do with the F1 race round the Marina.

  6. David says:

    It’s great to have him back, and it feels like the pre-season is now officially underway!

  7. goferet says:

    It costs around $1500 per lap to run an F1 car.
    ————————————————

    [mod]

    And who knows how much change Kimi would have flushed down the toilet by the time he’s through after these two days.

    Hopefully, the Ice Man can come up to speed ASAP but you know what, am having bad vibes about this Kimi comeback for comebacks usually (and by that I mean in most cases) end in failure.

    And to make matters worse, I have this mate, born & raised in Nottingham, she’s a massive Renault fan but I don’t know, maybe she jinxs her favourite drivers.

    For I have seen a worrying trend appear, all her favourite drivers have been losing their seats of late e.g.
    She’s a die hard Kubica, Kimi, Petrov, Alonso, Heidfeld and Schumi fan

    And as you know, most of those drivers have lost their drives, while the rest are on their way out.

    On the other hand, mate doesn’t care for the British drivers (never has) and can’t stand the Wunderkid.

    Maybe that’s a clue as to where the future of this sport lies.

    1. mcdo says:

      Absolutely ridiculous.

      2000 to 2007 must have tough years for you to watch. Fair play for sticking through them. I can’t imagine your depression at watching Schumacher, Alonso & Kimi dominate the sport.

    2. Craig D says:

      Nonsense.

    3. Martin says:

      I could give you two comebacks that went okay -Lauda in 1982-85 and Prost 1993.

      Mansell in 1994 still won a race on his comeback too, so not all of them are bad.

      I believe in terms of F1 comebacks by former world championsm, Kimi will be the sixth. Alan Jones and Schumacher sit in equal worst return with a best placing of 4th.

      Cheers,

      Martin

    4. Kevin Green says:

      Alonso lost/losing a seat? Not likely unless he gets caught pumping the bosses wife!
      Not sure if Kimi could go back up to near the very front without being in the best car but reckon he will do a good enough job cant see him making near as poor a comparable comeback as Schumacher Initially anyway:)

      1. MISTER says:

        It all depends on the car, but at this stage, my first worry is what if Grojean is going to be faster than Kimi?

      2. kevin green says:

        Really hard to say look at Schumacher’s come back i never really rated him as being as good as the results/car appeared to show anyway but certainly did not expect him to come back as bad as he did especially given this was a team running a evolution of the championship winning brawn car to a certain degree. roman seemed to show moments of magic and then totally dipped again so hard to say one thing for sure he will realise this is his last strike if he does not perform this season or i suppose even the 1st half of the season he can kiss goodbye to his F1 career. In referance to my comment that kimi would do a good job lotus were very happy with his performance today in testing so see how it goes :)

      3. MISTER says:

        I hope so, but then again, if Kimi didnt do good in that 2 year old car, you think Lotus would say to him and the rest of the world that he was slow?

        No matter his performance in that car, they need to praise him, to keep his morale up.
        He will definitely need time to get up to speed and I hope the media will not keep be too tought on him at the begining of the season.

        In regards to Schumi, I was expecting him to do better also, but that Mercedes was not top notch. Except a few times when Nico had a good qualy, the car was slow compared with the 3 top teams.

  8. veeru says:

    any video link we can get here??

    thanks again for a wonderful blog

  9. veeru says:

    or photos??

    1. Henry says:

      Autosport has a “spy shot” but I think thats as close as we are likely to get until Lotus release official pics…
      http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/97140

  10. Bolaji says:

    I definitely agree that a feature on why it costs $1,500 per lap would be very enlightening. A lot of people are unaware of the cost implications in this sport.

    1. renato nysan says:

      looks rather like the last years car

  11. Dan Orsino says:

    I’m told No.9 is the luckiest by those who know about these things
    pics of Kimi’s new helmet show it clearly printed on the side, just to make sure!

  12. Kevin Green says:

    Lets hope he gets out of the box and performs better than Schumacher did/does. :)

    1. edmillington says:

      What is wrong with Schumacher’s performance? In the wetin Canada,which is where the really skillful shine, he showed glimpses of his old self so much so that many were hoping for a few rainy races to see an ace in action. All he needs is a car.

  13. Red5 says:

    Looking forward to seeing Kimi back on track. Despite the new gadgets he should be up to speed before too long. If he can rekindle his love affair with F1, avoid the off-days that seemed to grow in number at Ferrari, we should be in for another entertaining season.

    Also good to see the black and gold livery back on show. Nothing wrong with a bit of nostalgia.

    I would love to see some more driver trivia, think James probably has all sorts of stats in his head, for sure there is going to be plenty of before and after comparison. How about the basics; races, wins, fastest laps, average qualifying position, etc.

  14. Michael S says:

    Go Kimi GO….. hope he gets a good car this year… I know it won’t be title winning but top 5 in races would be great

  15. terryshep says:

    May I thank you, James, for writing a whole article without once referring to Kimi as the Ic*m*n (I can’t bring myself to write it) and more especially, from telling us that he ‘Cometh’?

    One hopes that the Press Corps will search their imaginations for something a little more original – and without necessarily falling back on ‘The Flying Finn’ which really belonged to Keke Rosberg before Mika Hakkinen hijacked it.

    1. Andy says:

      I believe the term “Flying Finn” is actually much older than that, originally referring to the Finnish long-distance runners (such as Paavo Nurmi) and later on to to the rally drivers such as Timo Mäkinen. You could thus say that any “fast Finn” is a “Flying Finn”.

      I guess this just reiterates your point about a need for more original nick names. ;)

    2. Werewolf says:

      And countless rally drivers before Keke!

  16. Lycraclad says:

    Why would teams need to employ a separate test team if there was another test?

  17. Werewolf says:

    It might not be an FIA official test but there’s still a great feeling about the first ontrack action of the year!

    Let’s hope it’s a good one and that Raikkonen’s comeback adds a competitive interest.

  18. Marybeth says:

    I found a website with a live webcam of the track. Of course, right now it is dark over there so not much to see. I am in the USA. :)
    http://www.valenciacostablanca.com/valenciagrandprix/cheste_valencia_circuit.php

  19. dnb says:

    Hope lotus can give him a good car or I can see him losing interest fast.

  20. Paul Lewis says:

    Slightly off topic James but is there anything to be read into the announcements over the last few days about which of the drivers will have the first stint at the upcoming test sessions. Are we to assume that Button and Webber, for example, are better at getting the basics of a car right ready for Hamilton and Vettel to come in and sharpen it further. Or is it just a coin toss? Would appreciate your insight.

    1. James Allen says:

      Cars tend to be less reliable in the opening days of running, I guess. But the first test is about getting things bedded in. If there aren’t too many reliability problems, then the second and third tests are about pushing for performance.

  21. Darren says:

    Love to see the IceMan back in action…there’s even a picture of him smiling, who’d thought it.

  22. elie says:

    There is absolutely no sense comparing comebacks from different eras, time out, driver ages, dominant teams. If your fast, your fast- if your in the right team /car you will win. I dont think Kimi is in the fastest but I believe he will do well enough.He is already demonstrating it!. I just hope the new car is able to get to 3rd row on grid.

  23. Carl says:

    Interesting, Q&A Pedro de la Rosa

    What do you think of Raikkonen’s return? Do you think he will be the same as before?

    PdlR: Kimi is a great driver with whom I’ve worked with and for a lot. And I’ve always said that of all the drivers I’ve worked with, he’s probably the most brilliant. If Lotus can build a competitive car, Kimi could surprise this year.

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