Mike Stevens | Jan 28, 2012
  • Raikkonen expects to fight in 2012 midfield
  • Petrov still in running for 2012 race seat
  • Berger tips Schumacher to quit after 2012
  • 2012 Marussia car delay 'a shame' - Glock
 

Raikkonen expects to fight in 2012 midfield

Kimi Raikkonen has revealed he is prepared to race in the midfield this season as he returns to F1 with Lotus.

The Finn, a winner of 18 Grands Prix with top teams McLaren and Ferrari, has spent the last two years in world rallying.

For the first time since he stepped out of his Ferrari at the 2009 season finale, 32-year-old Raikkonen returned to the wheel of a F1 car this week at Valencia.

"I was expecting it to feel faster than it was," he admitted to the BBC.

"Ok, Valencia is not the fastest circuit, but it was still pretty normal."

Raikkonen is also braced for an average season, admitting in Zurich to Italy's Autosprint magazine that he is unlikely to be a frontrunner in 2012.

"I expect to have to fight in the middle group," he said. "But it will not be a drama. It's no different to my last year at Ferrari."

It is believed Raikkonen was ousted by Ferrari two years ago because the team's lucrative new sponsor Santander was willing to pay handsomely for Fernando Alonso.

Typically, 'Iceman' Raikkonen has no regrets.

"I have no resentment towards anyone."

But he has had to pay out of his own pocket for his recent rallying and Nascar forays, and is having to once again plot a course to the front of the F1 grid.

"Of course the championship is the goal," Turun Sanomat newspaper quotes him as saying. "It's fine to try it, but I am not obsessed about having another championship or not."

Raikkonen said his Lotus deal is "basically for two years".

"I don't have any long term plans. Let's see how it goes with Lotus."

His next outings will be at the wheel of the new car at Jerez.

"Generally, if the car feels good right from the start, you are usually competitive (for the season)," said Raikkonen.

"The races I don't think are so different (from 2009)," he added. "Vettel was strong even then even though there is much more passing now, but that depends on the moving wing.

"I haven't tried it (DRS) yet, or the KERS because it was the 2010 car (at Valencia). But it's just one or two more buttons to push."

As for his fitness after two years out, Raikkonen said he felt good after almost 700 kilometres at Valencia.

"I don't feel in the neck any stiffness," he said. "I probably expected to have more problems in the neck but I didn't really have any."

(GMM)

 

Petrov still in running for 2012 race seat

Vitaly Petrov is still in the running for a 2012 race seat. Officially, the only remaining vacancy is at HRT, the struggling Spanish team.

"HRT?" the Russian and former Renault driver is quoted by the Spanish sports daily AS.

"I can't say anything about that."

The AS interviewer asked Petrov if that means the former Hispania team is out of the question.

"The answer is not no, the answer is that I can't say anything."

The more conventional wisdom among F1 insiders is that Petrov and his manager Oksana Kosachenko are convincing their sponsors to pay to oust Jarno Trulli at Caterham.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said Adrian Sutil is also a contender for that seat, but only pending the outcome of his forthcoming assault trial.

"I want to stay in F1," Petrov admitted, "because if I lose a year it will be very difficult to return in 2013.

"It is very important to stay on the grid. My manager is in Europe trying to find a place."

It is obvious that his fallback option is to be Pirelli's 2012 test driver.

"I was asked to be part of this event," Petrov said at the launch of the tyre supplier's 2012 season in Abu Dhabi this week.

"... Drive the cars, work with them, maybe we can reach an agreement but I still want to be at the Jerez test with a team, that is goal number one."

Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat quoted Petrov as also admitting that a reserve driver role is a possibility for 2012.

O Estado de S.Paulo correspondent Livio Oricchio, meanwhile, said that Petrov - with the inaugural Russian GP on the horizon and the driver backed personally by Vladimir Putin - is also enjoying Bernie Ecclestone's help in his bid to stay on the grid.

(GMM)

 

Berger tips Schumacher to quit after 2012

Adrian Newey is Red Bull's guarantee to remain a F1 frontrunner, according to Gerhard Berger.

The former ten-time race winner knows the Briton well, having won the 2008 Italian GP as a constructor when Sebastian Vettel drove the Newey-penned Toro Rosso to victory at Monza.

"As long as they have Adrian Newey and his technical staff, Red Bull will have either the fastest or the second fastest car," Berger told this week's Auto Motor und Sport magazine.

"And with Vettel in one of the cars, with so much confidence and experience now, he can make the difference even with the second best car," added the Austrian.

But according to Berger, it is a different story for Germany's former world-beater Michael Schumacher.

"I don't think he's going to extend the contract," he said, referring to the fact 2012 is the third and final year of the 43-year-old's existing deal with Mercedes.

"At some point he has to get tired.

"He has no chance against Rosberg," explained Berger. "He will have to admit that at more than forty years of age he can't beat a young driver at Rosberg's level."

Indeed, young talent is now Berger's specialty, after he was asked by his former Ferrari boss Jean Todt to head the FIA's single seater commission.

Berger thinks the junior categories cost youngsters too much.

"What I think would be reasonable is EUR 50,000 at the most for a kart season, 100,000 for an entry-level series, 300,000 for formula 3 and half a million for the last series before Formula One," he said.

(GMM)

 

2012 Marussia car delay 'a shame' - Glock

Timo Glock has described Marussia's plans for a short 2012 pre-season as "a shame".

The former Virgin team has admitted its new single seater is facing a delay, with the MR01 to only hit the track at the final Barcelona test in March.

And Glock and his rookie teammate Charles Pic will sit out the forthcoming Jerez test altogether.

"It's a shame we are getting the new car late and therefore only a short preparation (for the season) is possible," German Glock is quoted by DPA news agency.

He insists the team, ahead of its third consecutive season on the grid, will therefore suffer a "hard time" in the "first third" of the 2012 calendar.

Auto Motor und Sport magazine said the car will receive its first significant update for May's Spanish grand prix, but there will be no KERS system at all in 2012 for "cost reasons".

Glock, however, insists he is confident.

"I am positive about 2012," said the former Toyota driver. "Of course, our goal is to keep developing progressively."

(GMM)

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