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Exclusive interview with Kimi Raikkonen 02 Aug 2006

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, German Grand Prix, Practice Day, Hockenheim, Germany, 28 July 2006

McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen may be a man of few words, but he chooses those words well, leaving the listener with little doubt of his feelings. At the moment it appears he is feeling pretty relaxed. He knows that he has twice lost out on championships he probably should have won, but he also knows the best may well be yet to come…

Q: Twelve races, one pole, five podiums, but no win - you cannot be satisfied with your season so far. How do you feel about the situation?
Kimi Raikkonen:
Obviously I am not happy how the season has gone so far. After finishing second in the championship last year I expected to be challenging for the title. But after a couple of races it was clear we are not competitive enough.

Q: Can the team’s moderate performance be put down to a specific reason? You retired twice due to accidents, but in five races you simply didn’t seem to have the pace...
Its not just one specific thing, we need to work on the whole package.

Q: Ahead of you lies a difficult decision regarding McLaren: stay or go. The Ferrari and Renault rumours are common knowledge, but last week Mercedes’ Norbert Haug said that if you were smart, you’d stay. Are you smart?
I am comfortable with being in a position that I can choose where I drive next year.

Q: Believe the rumours and in theory you can choose between three teams for 2007. What would draw you to Ferrari, to Renault - or persuade you to stay where you are?
I am not going to go into specifics on the pros and cons on each team.

Q: When will you announce your decision, and what influence does Michael Schumacher’s future have on it?
I will announce my decision when the time is right, and Michael’s decision has no influence on my future.

Q: Staying with McLaren would mean having Fernando Alonso as your team mate. What could that mean for your position within the team?
Fernando joining the team is not different from Juan Pablo (Montoya) joining the team two years ago. I would have equal number one status.

Q: When you learned that Fernando had signed with (McLaren boss) Ron Dennis, what was your first thought? You have spent years trying to win the title with McLaren, and now your key rival could walk in and reap the rewards of your labours…
Its Ron’s team and up to him who he decides drives for McLaren. I could have been a two-time world champion with McLaren, but things did not work out due to circumstances beyond my control.

Q: With two thirds of the season gone, what can you now realistically expect for this year?
Clearly the world championship is not possible this year. So the next best thing I can aim for is wins. I could have won at Monaco and Canada this year, but again things did not go my way.

Q: Have you been surprised by Juan Pablo’s untimely departure?
I don’t think about JPM’s decision as it does not concern me.