Ferrari Formula 1 driver Kimi Raikkonen and his co-driver Kaj Lindstrom have just completed their first test for Rally Finland. Lindstrom talked about the last two days and how Raikkonen is progressing in their Tommi Makinen Racing-run Super 2000 Abarth.
Q. How was the test?
Kaj Lindstrom: It was OK. Actually, it was more than OK, it was very good. We did some work with the suspension and the differential. By the time we had finished, the car was running definitely better than at the start of the test. There's still some work for us to do before the next test, but we've made a good step forward. It was good for Kimi to be on the gravel as well - and in some kind of conditions that we could expect on the event itself: the sun was shining and we had 24 degrees.
Q. How much running did you do?
KL: I can't remember in the first day, but yesterday we did about 130 (kilometers) or something like that. Really, it was about making the car suitable for him. Everybody tends to be going the same way with these kind of cars and, of course, Tommi has done some driving in the car.
Q. Did you find some big jumps?
KL: We were testing in the Jyvaskyla area, so it wasn't hard to find a road with big jumps!
Q. Do you think he will be ready for the jumps at end of Ruuhimaki?
KL: We've got another test before the event and by the time we get to Ruuhimaki on Sunday afternoon we'll have done a few jumps, so I'm sure he'll be ready for them.
Q. You've co-driven Tommi to victory on a World Rally Championship round and sat with other rally drivers, how does Kimi compare with them?
KL: Obviously, Kimi's knowledge on rally cars is not the same as Tommi, but the feedback from Kimi is always accurate and the same as what Tommi is saying. The difference is that, given he is a four-time World Rally Champion, Tommi has a much wider knowledge of what is available to put the problems right with the car, he knows the full range of alternatives, whereas Kimi is still learning about those.
Right from the start though, right from the first test I did with Kimi in Rovaniemi at the start of the season, his talent inside the car is quite clear to see. One of the best things about working with Kimi is that you can constantly see the improvements. He is going forward all of the time. When you tell him some tips to do something like this or like that, he takes that information and uses it straight away. He learns something on every rally, and that was clear at the test as well.
Q. And are you both looking forward to Rally Finland?
KL: Of course, it's always nice to do an event like Finland. And for Kimi it's always been some sort of dream for him to do that rally. And, like I said, it's good for me to do Finland, this will be my 11th time on my home WRC round.
Q. But there's going to be a lot of interest in you both...
KL: Yes, there will be a lot of people coming to the rally just to see Kimi, but I think that's a good thing for the WRC and for the whole show. At the moment, some of the WRC rounds are not so interesting and they need some kind of a boost - and this is going to be good for Finland.
Q. How are you physically? I thought your hip operation - following the accident you had in Argentina 2002 - had ruled you out of any more co-driving?
KL: I saw the FIA doctors last year and they gave me the green light to be back in the car. That's how this is possible for me. It's good to be back in business.