Lopez: Raikkonen is more motivated than ever
3 December, 2011
Dec.3 (Lotus Renault GP) Gerard Lopez, in his capacity as chairman of the Renault team, pulled off the coup of a life-time when he secured the signature of Kimi Raikkonen, persuading one of the most popular drivers of the current era tto return to the pinnacle of the sport with the Enstone based team
Kimi came to Enstone on Friday – how was his visit?
It was good. It felt like the right thing to do to bring him here today. We decided that bringing Kimi into the team was the right decision to make. We had to be forward looking in terms of performance and, regardless of how good any car is, you need a good driver. Kimi has proven himself as one of the fastest drivers around and he’s still in his prime. In terms of motivation, I think he’s more motivated than ever. The more people that question it (his motivation) the better, because it’s only going to motivate him further. It’s a very important step in getting the team to where we want it to be, which is one of the top teams in Formula 1.
What was the exact reason for choosing Kimi?
I can summarise it in one word. He is fast. I think he will fit in very well with the way we do things; it’s a good place for him to fit in.
This can be seen as a real statement of intent…
There’s no question of that. We’ve given some drivers the chance to shine. I think they have done ok, but have not all lived up to expectations, but it’s difficult because it’s Formula 1. It’s very different to GP2 or karting. As a midfield-placed team hiring Kimi, you do so with the intent of being at the top.
Is there now an upbeat feeling in Enstone?
Yes, I think there is. We don’t make decisions for the outside world to take note, we make them to help this company succeed. Whether people believe that our past decisions were taken in the interests of business or not, the decisions were taken for the staff. So, if we hire Kimi to come in as race driver we are making the right statement internally, which is that it’s the right thing for the staff, the engineers, mechanics, anyone in this company. I think it’s very motivational; I haven’t got all the feedback yet but it does seem like a motivational decision.
From a press side of things, the noise has been great…
Yes, from a press side I was surprised because I had no expectation, positive or negative. From what I’ve seen so far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I’m very positively inclined towards this, which the press seem to be too. The fans are obviously looking forward to it too.
This is a massive boost for the whole company…
Everyone knows that if you are given a good car, we are going to be back at the top again.
The interest seems to be higher than when Schumacher made his comeback…
I wasn’t aware of that, but that’s fantastic!