Your team has always been known to work well with young people – as was the case with you, Kimi. What are your memories of your beginnings in Formula 1?
RÄIKKÖNEN: I was not as young as others, I was 21, but I was still very inexperienced. I came straight from the Formula Renault ( which was the 4th grade at the time ), but of course it was a completely different world from the one I was familiar with. When I drove a Formula 1 car for the first time, there it was – I would not say it was a shock – but it was definitely different from anything I had known until then. But the first day passed quickly and then with each passing day it became easier and more normal, in all areas.
How has Formula 1 changed in all these many years?
RÄIKKÖNEN: At the core it is still the same. Over the years, cars have changed a bit, driving as such, the rules. But in principle, as a driver, we still do the same as we did back then. Maybe we’ll do more PR work now and sit more in meetings.
What’s your goal for the rest of the season?
RÄIKKÖNEN: Hopefully we can fight regularly for the places in the top ten and thus for the points. You do not really have concrete goals, it’s just that you should always improve the car step by step. And if that works then we can be in a good position – after a long journey.
Question to you both: Is it fun to be in the midfield fight, where it is very close and where you have many duels in every race?
RÄIKKÖNEN : Everyone tells me all the time: the races are so boring. But I think if you’re in the middle of it, it’s not exactly bland. Some days are just defending, then there are phases where it’s always about attacking. From the outside it looks boring than in the car, where it can be very hectic in midfield. It’s so tight in this area, you might even see better racing than the front.
GIOVINAZZI: I fully agree. It is so close. In this area of the race, you are offensive and defensive at the same time, and your race is going forward as well as backward. You have to keep an eye on both. But that means pure racing is more fun here. Honestly: it’s tough.
Kimi, your memories of the A1-Ring and the first years of the Red Bull Ring now?
RÄIKKÖNEN : I’ve always enjoyed being here – and it was bitter that we had lost this racetrack for so many years. I think 2003 was the race back then. I have many positive memories. Fortunately, I am old enough to have met some old racing circuits – such as the old Hockenheimring, when he still had his long straights. Many routes that are fun in their own way – Spa with the bus-stop chicane, Hungary.
In Spielberg there are great passages, even if some things have changed in small details. But the first corner or the last two, they are a lot of fun. It is always a great place to come here. And it is probably also on the whole scenery with all the mountains, the atmosphere here is always very relaxed. Bitter, that we did not have the track in the calendar – but great, that they got back.
I think that you would have loved the old Austrian ring with its long straights, in whose braking zone, as Gerhard Berger put it, you always saw death in the eye.
RÄIKKÖNEN : Yes, definitely! Everything I’ve seen about it looks pretty exciting. And on such tracks, there would of course be really good overtaking maneuvers. There are many good corners where you can do something while braking. We want to have such circuits.
Kimi, you as a racer: What do you want from Formula One of the future?
RÄIKKÖNEN : Holidays! (Laughing).
In the long run, it is not my job what will happen. If I’m not interested, I definitely will not turn on the TV and let myself be disturbed in my spare time (laugh again).
But if you ask me, I would certainly change a lot. Remove all these data evaluations if possible. If you did not tune the cars on the basis of so much data, then more of the feeling would come back and certain qualities could make the difference.
What’s more fun: driving a Formula 1 car or a rally car?
RÄIKKÖNEN : Rally is so completely different. You do not really drive against each other, but against time. If you see another car on the special stage at the rally, then just one of the two of you just went a goddamn wrong. (Grins)
But if you compare: I once went NASCAR, as you could use the test telemetry data, but not in the race. Therefore, you have to do your own experiences from a certain point. This makes oval races seem very simple, but in truth they are far from simplicity. It is a highly complex thing. That’s more pure racing. If you realize: Shit, I’m not fast enough – then you can talk to others. Then one says that to you, and the other one means that. In the end, you have to draw your own conclusions. In Formula 1, on the other hand, there are the data and they tell you everything that needs to be changed. If you have to find your own set-up and can not look at the computer during set-up, that would be a completely different feeling.
Antonio, does Kimi help you, can you learn from him?
GIOVINAZZI: It’s just like Kimi just said: Even if he would not tell me or if I do not ask him, I can see all his data and can draw my conclusions from it. There are no real secrets in the team as far as voting is concerned.
RÄIKKÖNEN : Now imagine how difficult it would be for you if you did not have access to my data. That would make a massive difference.
GIOVINAZZI: Yes, I agree. Without data, it would be difficult – especially for me as a very young pilot in the first season, who of course benefits from having such an exceptionally experienced teammate. That would be tough, but I’m lucky enough to be able to see it all. This makes it easier to improve session by session.
In the DTM, there are quite revolutionary ideas: For example, that you can not pre-heat the tires or because the radio traffic is now very limited: Would such rules also good for Formula 1?
RÄIKKÖNEN : Originally there was also a radio ban in Formula 1, for example in the warm-up lap. I’m the type that does not mind if nobody talks. ( grins mischievously )
In other teams, it is often the case that someone says that this driver is faster or slower here. But what does that make a difference? For me, this information is no help. I think if you ban radio, it will not really change the race.
And as far as your tire issue is concerned: If it’s as hot as Spielberg, we’ll even bring the tires up to temperature after a few laps, even without electric blankets. But if it’s cold, we would be on the verge of ice without it. We have zero grip, especially in the morning sessions. We even fly off the straight because we have so little grip.
So if you ban the electric blankets, you would have to change the tires completely at the same time. If the tires are designed to work without electric blankets – then it’s fine. But there are no plans. And it will not change the game.
You are a fan favorite, a true hero. What does that mean to you?
RÄIKKÖNEN : Yes, that’s a nice thing. It’s nice to cheer you on! So some things that I do seem to like. Or maybe I’m just old and that makes people sentimental. (Smiles)
Antonio, for you as Italian, the day Kimi won the 2007 World Championship title for Ferrari must have been something special. What are your memories?
GIOVINAZZI: Of course I was a Ferrari fan! I saw the race on TV at home. And it was also special in that three different drivers could become world champions – Alonso, Hamilton and Kimi.
RÄIKKÖNEN : ( cuts in ) I really hope you’ve cheered me on.
GIOVINAZZI: Uh, yes. I made the point difference. (Laughs)
RÄIKKÖNEN : How old were you then?
GIOVINAZZI: (has to think). 14! No – 12. I was driving mini-kart.
Who was the last winner with an Alfa engine?
GIOVINAZZI: (answers immediately). Niki Lauda! (Note: Correct, Anderstorp 1978, Brabham-Alfa)
In private, you also drive Alfa: Kimi a Stelvio, Antonio a Giulia. Right?
RÄIKKÖNEN : Yes, in the Quadrifoglio version. That goes well with Switzerland and with the family. It is fun.
GIOVINAZZI: The Giulia is a car that has succeeded. I always enjoy driving with it.
What’s the biggest difference between a big team like Ferrari and a smaller one like Alfa, Kimi? My feeling tells me that this is a family size that suits you.
RÄIKKÖNEN : Pure work, that’s not really different. Driving, the workflow, the meetings, that’s all very similar. The big difference is the trappings, I have less to do here. That was one reason why I wanted it that way. But the passion, which is the same, and as a rule, the cars are very good. Only if you have a problem on the car, it can take longer to fix it – in such a case, the size of staff and budget makes a difference.
What do you feel today when you are in Maranello?
RÄIKKÖNEN : I had good times there, even if the results were not always there. But Ferrari is a big part of my heart, of my life. Not many can claim to have raced for this team and have won a Driver World Championship title and two times the Constructors’ Championship. That connects and I still have contact with the people there. Naturally.
How was 2007? The day you became world champion – and Giovinazzi was watching TV?
RÄIKKÖNEN : Our only chance in the race was to be among the top two and then look: what are the McLaren doing? We had a lot of speed, but the World Cup was no longer in our hands. We had to bring our cars on 1 and 2. It worked. But it was not just this one race. We had a period of the season when we were weak, but then we were really good.
Can Sebastian Vettel still fight for the title this year?
RÄIKKÖNEN : He can fight. Can he win as well? This is something else. He is not in a simple position, but things often change quickly. They will fight until the end.
GIOVINAZZI: I agree with that. Giving up is not an option for a team like Ferrari.