Japanese GP: Can Raikkonen win the championship without winning a race?
By Berthold Bouman
The result of the Singapore Grand Prix was not exactly what Kimi Raikkonen had in mind, but 12th during qualifying and a sixth place during the race was the maximum Raikkonen could extract from his Lotus E20 during a hot and humid race weekend.
But the flying Finn is still third in the Drivers’ Championship with 149 points, 45 points behind leader Fernando Alonso, but only 16 points behind Sebastian Vettel, and therefore Raikkonen was asked whether he could take second place from Vettel this weekend in Japan.
“You try to do the best you can. This year has been good for the team and we’re doing well in the Championship so I’m happy with where we are and think that we have a good chance to improve. Of course the objective is always to try to win races and to bring home as many points as possible,” said Raikkonen.
When asked whether it would be possible to take the 2012 title without winning a race, he replied, “I think it’s very difficult to say. There are too many things that could happen over the next few races. I guess if you look at it mathematically then yes, I could, but personally I feel you have to win at least one race to make sure you are World Champion.”
But he knows it will be very difficult to grab this year’s title, but it certainly would not be impossible, “There would have to be some big dramas if I were to take it from Fernando [Alonso] or Sebastian [Vettel] without winning a race, so all I can do is keep moving forward and trying to win. That’s all I set out to do anyway, every time I step into the car.”
Lotus said they would try their new double DRS system at the high-speed circuit of Suzuka, but Raikkonen only mentioned he ‘should get some new parts’ and was silent on the double DRS. “Setting up the car the way I like it to be depends on the weather and on the circuit. We know the speed is there in our car, we just have to find the right set-up to maximise it every time,” he said.
As usual, Raikkonen will do the best job he can, but he also warned his team his rivals are pushing just as hard, “We give it our best shot to be on the podium, but the races are going to get more and more difficult with other teams constantly pushing with new development parts. Obviously, we have to make a step forward from Singapore — where we were nowhere — to be fighting for top places.”
Raikkonen is very popular with the girls in Japan, so what’s it like to be on the run for the screaming Japanese fans? “It’s part of being a Formula One driver and it shows how enthusiastic the fans are. There are very many fans and they seem to be able to find you wherever you are. They can run fast but I don’t think they will catch me when I’m in the car!”