Jean, are you excited about the news that Kimi Raikkonen is returning to F1 next year with Lotus Renault GP?
It’s fantastic news. Kimi has more natural speed than just about anyone who has ever raced a Grand Prix car, and if he’s coming back it’s because he wants to do it, he misses F1, and he believes he can do well. He has had a short break, which was a little bit forced by Ferrari. I think he was fed up with the system and wanted to take time out, which I can totally understand. But now he’s coming back, with Lotus, so it’s really exciting.
Kimi’s speed was never in question, but there were concerns he failed to develop the car as Michael Schumacher had done before him. Is that a concern for you now?
Michael was brilliant at that, but it isn’t working for him now at Mercedes and I think this is a reflection of how F1 has developed in recent years and re-prioritized. Now you just need to focus on having a quick driver, someone who does the job. The great thing with Kimi is he extracts the maximum from a quick car. When the car was good at McLaren and Ferrari he was always winning. LRGP will expect him to extract the maximum from the Lotus as well.
It’s sure to fire up the workforce at Enstone, isn’t it, having a world champion in the car?
F1 teams need a driver who will consistently set lap times that are 100 percent on the edge. That is what a driver of Kimi’s calibre can do, to dance on the edge and never fall off. From that, the engineers get a baseline. They understand the true speed of their car and can make changes accordingly. It eradicates any doubt. I expect Kimi will be a very valuable tool indeed. But I don’t expect a lot of talking outside the car! I’m sure he hasn’t changed a bit.