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Q&A with McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen 12 Jul 2004

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, British Grand Prix, Rd 11, Qualifying Day, Silverstone, England, 10 July 2004

The Finnish star on his and McLaren's return to form

Kimi Raikkonen clinched McLaren’s first pole of the year at Silverstone. After a blistering start, he then recorded their best result of 2004 by finishing second behind Michael Schumacher. Afterwards, he spoke about his performance and the improvement the revised MP4-19B machine has brought to the team.

Q: Take us through that start and those early laps.
Kimi Raikkonen:
It was good. The start was very good, to get the first place, and I just went as quickly as I could and I think after the first lap there was already quite a big gap. I kept pushing all the time but then I was a bit unlucky with the traffic, I got stuck behind the two Minardis after the first pit stop and this cost me way too much time. Every time I came out with new tyres I got stuck behind someone but that is racing and at least we got the second place in the end.

Q: Indeed, your first podium since Suzuka last year. But, from the safety car onwards, you were very close to Michael within a couple of laps of the car going in and then Michael started to pull away again.
KR:
Yeah, I think the last set of tyres I had more difficulties with at the rear end than any other set so I was hoping that I could get past the two lapped cars very quickly so that I could really challenge Michael with the new tyres. I got close to him but not past him. But for me, the team, Mercedes, for everyone, it is a good result because after a really difficult start to the season we finally got things going the right way and got back on the right track and we got some results. Now it is only the second race for the car so hopefully we can improve it.

Q: Kimi, that 3.5-second lead at the end of the first lap – what about that? What were you thinking?
KR:
I just tried to do my best and push as hard as I could because I knew that Ferrari might be quicker than us over the race distance so I tried to build as much gap as I could. I did it well, but every time when I came out from the pits I was stuck behind someone so I couldn’t use my new tyres, really, to gain more time. Then Michael got in front of me and I was stuck behind him. I tried to pass but I wasn’t quick enough.

Q: Did you think you could win when you were right behind him there?
KR:
Of course, I was always thinking that, I didn’t give up before we finished the race. And in the last part, when we were behind the safety car I was also thinking that if I went past the two cars between us quickly then I would have a good chance because with new tyres I might be able to pass him. But it took too long to get past those two cars so I wasn’t able. But in the end second place was good for us.

Q: What have you learned about the MP4-19B this weekend that you can take into, say, Hockenheim?
KR:
I guess that it is a quick car and it is reliable but we still need to improve it and I think we are getting some new parts for the next race and hopefully we can go more strongly and maybe we can try for a win. It is a very positive start because it is only the second race that we have taken this car and we can really race with it, so it is very good for the team and for all the people. Of course it was good to be back racing for the podium and for the first place, not only just for me, but for the whole team because we’ve been having a really difficult season and everybody has been working to try to improve that situation and now finally with the new car, the 19B, we are starting to get in the right direction, in the right way, so for sure it was very nice to not just be fighting for one point in seventh or eighth place. So I am much more than happy now, but I would be much more happier to be in first place but we cannot get everything straight away. So we need to still keep working hard and try to improve the package and then hopefully by the end of the season we are in the position where we really can challenge for a win at every race. That’s what we’re aiming for.