Kimi Raikkonen completed his comeback F1 test this week and has spoken about his feelings at driving an F1 car after two years away.
Raikkonen, the 2007 F1 world champion now aged 32, drove for two days at Valencia’s Riccardo Tormo circuit, which has been used for F1 testing for many years. Testing restrictions meant that he was in a two year old Renault on Pirelli demonstration tyres, but the Finn said it was enough to give him back the old feelings and to show that he’s still got it.
“I was a little concerned about finding the sport had really moved on. But frankly, on Monday and Tuesday I wasn’t surprised. I didn’t feel any difference,” he told L”Equipe today.
“The memories came back, all those times I spent driving various F1 cars, on this track. The old reflexes and feelings came back really fast. Of course it took me a while to find the limit. But after a first day of acclimatisation on Tuesday it went much better, even if there’s still room for improvement.”
Raikkonen also explained that the main motivation for turning his back on rally and coming back to the F1 fold was the desire to go wheel to wheel against other drivers.
“Last year I did a test in NASCAR and I loved rediscovering competition. I really had a good time. In rally you are alone, racing against the clock. In NASCAR you’re in a peloton, battling with forty cars,” he said.
“It was the first time in two years that I raced against others and I just wanted to relive that feeling of real combat. And on a race track there’s nothing better than an F1 car. We had some discussions with Williams, but then very quickly Lotus approached me and everything went together to get an agreement.”
Raikkonen becomes the sixth F1 champion on the grid this season, the first time in the sport’s history that this has happened. He was famous for not enjoying the obligations which come with being an F1 champion, such as dealing with promotions and media, but he says he has his eyes open about this for his comeback,
“In this sport there are loads of things I don’t like and which weigh you down. But when you’re racing, everything’s okay. I love racing other people, It’s what I do best and which gives me the most pleasure.”