Daly anticipates 'uphill climb' for Räikkönen
30 November 2011 – Former driver Derek Daly believes Kimi Räikkönen must refocus professionally if he and Lotus Renault GP are to succeed in F1. The 2007 World Champion makes his return to the sport after a two-year sabbatical although, prior to his departure, the Finn came under intense scrutiny for taking his eye off the ball when working for Ferrari.
Räikkönen entered Formula 1 with Sauber ten years ago, mounting convincing title attacks with McLaren in 2003 and 2005 before finally clinching the crown for Ferrari in 2007. He also led the standings early into the following season, but appeared to go off the boil and was duly swamped by team-mate Felipe Massa. Ferrari replaced him with Fernando Alonso for the 2010 campaign.
“Kimi was one of the fastest ever F1 drivers but he was never known for his dedication to the job,” Irishman Daly, who raced in F1 between 1978 and 1982, told GPUpdate.net.
“He also needed a lot of engineering and technical support because he never learned the discipline of car setup and indeed has proven to be not that interested in that aspect of a race weekend. Without this skill and dedication to the job and a two-year break, he will have an uphill climb.
“For Renault to be successful, they need to pair Kimi with a driver who is accurate with feedback and car development. They will need to operate at the outer limits of what might be possible, both mechanically and on the human level. The initial car design will have nothing to do with Kimi, but the in-season development will need considerable and accurate driver input.”
Daly stresses that driving skills alone will not be enough for Räikkönen to thrive.
“Kimi will have to be more than just fast,” he continues. “To return and be sharp again, he will need to do something that he has not done in the past: dedicate himself to doing what’s needed to operate at a world class level, meaning he'll have to be more than just fast. It will be a good human interest story that could become a human drama story.”
Question marks remain about Räikkönen’s new team-mate. Although Vitaly Petrov is still contracted to LRGP for one more season, the Russian’s future appears to be in doubt as both Romain Grosjean and Bruno Senna wait in the wings.