2 AUGUST 29 2012 motorsport-news.co.uk
IN THIS ISSUE
THE VOICE OF BRITISH MOTORSPORT ISSUE JA2836
“We have the drive to fight for the title”
Hamilton says McLaren will hunt down Ferrari
MG STAR PLATO RUES MISSED CHANCES
Two DNFs blunt BTCC veteran’s title challenge
MINI ADVENTURE AIMED AT BRC
Mini John Cooper Works planned for BRC campaign
AUDI OUTLASTS TOYOTA’S CHARGE
TO CLAIM ENDURANCE
Germans win the battle of the hybrids, but only just
Historic race and rally news
BTCC supports report
Silverstone 1000kms report
WRC report:Rallye Deutschland 24 SUBSCRIBETOMOTORSPORTNEWS 28 Mewla Rally report 29 Racing reports 30 Rally reports 32 Karting round-up 33 Sporting Scene round-up 34 Letters/Comment/What’s On 36
Wanted:Belgium to suffer a bout of typically unpredicatable British weather this weekend.
FORMOTORSPORT NEWS STAFF CONTACT DETAILS PLEASE SEE P37
Classified advertising: 0208 267 5355
Team chiefs say Räikkönen’s Belgian
ByRob Ladbrook Lotus F1 Team bosses reckon Kimi Räikkönen can upset the title favourites when the season roars back into life at Spa Francorchamps this weekend, insisting that the Finn is fired up to fight for the drivers’ crown.
The final nine rounds of the world championship begin with this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix and Räikkönen’s stellar record in the country could kickstart a second-half push.
The 2007 world beater has shone at the track, having been victorious on four of his last five outings around the 4.6-mile circuit. Räikkönen has recorded three podium finishes in the impressive Lotus E20 this year and sits fifth in the championship. Team technical guru James Allison reckons Räikkönen is primed to return the squad to the top step soon.
“There’s no reason [why] Kimi can’t fight for this title,” said Allison. “There are an awful lot of points still available this season and the deficits we have are miniscule in comparison to the rewards still on offer.
“Anybody who can string together a run of properly competitive races can make up the points gap very rapidly. Kimi doesn’t makemanymistakes and is incredibly consistent. The gaps are easily recoverable as the grid is so tight. It’s our aim to close the deficit and it’s what Kimi is undoubtedly ready to push for. We intend to make a fight out of this championship.”
Lotus’challenge Part of the reason for Lotus’ confidence stems from a change to the squad’s development plans for this year. Although Räikkönen sits fifth in the points, 48 behind leader Fernando Alonso, the team has been one of the most consistent this year with the E20 yet to show a real weakness at any of the circuits so far.
The car has the ability to stretch the life of the Pirelli tyres and its aerodynamic efficiency means it has an enviable top speed. That will play to the squad’s advantage with the next two rounds taking place on high-speed circuits such as Spa andMonza before the championship heads to the Marina Bay street circuit in Singapore.
The development race during the final stages of the season tends to mix up the order with some teams preferring to switch focus to their 2013 challengers. Allison explained that the team opted to get the groundwork for the forthcoming E21 out of the way earlier in the year allowing it to widen the development window for the current car. He said Lotus was confident ahead of the final run of races and warned rivals that they have yet to see the best from the E20. “The battles at the end of the year will be fascinating for the fans because it’s the most tactical section of the season,” he explained.
Kimi was o n p odium in Hung ar y
Lotus chiefs re ck on Räikk önen can push fo r 2012 cr ow n
“The activities on teams’ current cars tend to calm down andmany switch development to next year’s car. The parameters for getting new cars ready for the start of the year are very tight so there’s little room for error. Many teams will focus more heavily on 2013 as the season goes on. We started this year with the aim of developing the E20 for longer than normal and that will put us in a very strong position for the rest of the year.
“We pushed harder on the 2013 car early in the season and we have the basic phase out of the way, leaving us space to concentrate onmaximising performance when others are switching off. Most teams on the grid will have their development programmes impacted by planning for next season but we can focus ahead without compromise.
“Given that our early development has managed to keep pace with our rivals during a period whenwewere already looking ahead gives us great confidence that wewill be strong over the final stages of the season.
“Our original target was to finish fourth in the constructors’ points but we now feel we can achieve more than that. Wehave the car and the driver combination to be a genuine threat.”
Kimi’s future Since his return to the sport this year, the future of Räikkönen has been under scrutiny. He has recently been linked with a return to Ferrari, with which he won his sole title in 2007.
Since 2007 Lotus (formerly Renault) has run ten drivers in its two cars. Allison said the stability of retaining Räikkönen and team-mate Romain Grosjean would be key to pushing the team forwards.
“We certainly hope that Kimi will be here next year with us, and he’s given us absolutely no reason to believe that he won’t be,” said Allison. “Kimi likes it here because we listen to him and work with him to field competitive equipment.
“It’s important for us to carry the strength of this year through to next season. Wehave continuity this year, which we’ve lacked in the past. That helps a team greatly because you don’t have to do the whole bedding-in process when you have new drivers. We’re working well with both our drivers and they are working well for us so it’s an exciting time.
“Both Kimi and Romain are coming back on a high with their tails up. We now need to work hard to make the most out of our very strong driver line-up and our very strong car.”
Senna: gr eat at Spa
■ Räikkönen’s four wins at Spa puts him joint third in wins at the track. He’s two behind Michael Schumacher, one behind Ayrton Senna and tied with Jim Clark.
■ Räikkönen won the Belgian Grand Prix three times in a row between 2004 and 2007 (it didn’t run in 2006). Senna, Schumacher and Clark are the only other drivers to do that. Clark and Senna won the race four times in a row.
■ The original Lotus team had a strong record at Spa, taking eight wins at the track. Only Ferrari (16) and McLaren (12) have won more.
■ Räikkönen has the best success rate of any driver at Spa. His four wins from seven starts is a winning rate of 57.14 per cent.
Kimi: qualifying is key to wins
Kimi Räikkönen says that an improvement in qualifying form will be vital to his title challenge.
Räikkönen has scored three podium finishes so far but has yet to qualify higher than fifth for a race. He started the Spanish GP from fourth after Lewis Hamilton was disqualified.
“We’ve not been strong in qualifying and that’s the reason we’ve not gotten to the top step yet,” said Räikkönen. “It makes life harder for us on Sundays.
“The win will come. I love Spa, it’s my favourite track and has a great mix of fast, demanding corners.”