Kimi Raikkonen is setting an example that all rookies should follow with his impressive approach at Alfa Romeo, according to team principle Frederic Vasseur.
Alfa Romeo replaced the Ferrari-bound Charles Leclerc with Raikkonen over the winter, with the drivers swapping seats and giving the Sauber-run team more experience in its driver line-up alongside Antonio Giovinazzi. The decision has paid off so far, with Raikkonen picking up all 12 of the team’s points so far with three top ten finishes, and Vasseur has been impressed by the 39-year-old’s approach.
“It’s not only Antonio (who can learn from Raikkonen), I think it’s all the rookies from Formula 2 and elsewhere,” Vasseur said. “You have so many things to manage at the same time compared to the other series that the way you have to do it before the weekend, during the sessions, in the debrief, is very impressive. You can’t be relaxed on one point and say ‘OK, let’s forget it’.
“Kimi has this approach to pay attention to every single small detail. He was in the office last week and he made some drawings of the brake pedals because he wants to make some changes, so he did some drawings on a sheet. Honestly, I like it. The guy is able to pay attention to every single small detail, it’s a kind of commitment. He’s impressive.”
Raikkonen himself described life in Formula 1 as more of a hobby since leaving Ferrari for Alfa Romeo, and Vasseur says that only relates to how much the Finn is enjoying this stage of his career.
“Honestly, it’s not (like a hobby) when you are in the briefing or when he’s in the car,” he said. “When he’s outside of the atmosphere of the weekend perhaps, but I think honestly that’s a great approach. To be fully committed when he’s at work and to release the pressure when you are outside of this system.
“He doesn’t take it easy, that’s absolutely not the case. He’s fully dedicated and fully focused, and he’s pushing like hell on every single detail. You can ask the engineers – nobody will consider that Kimi is on vacation!
“For sure you don’t have the same pressure when you’re running with us as when you’re running with Ferrari. But you can put yourself in the same situation, with the same target, to deliver and to achieve.
“Honestly when you go into the meetings with the engineers he’s paying more attention to ever single detail – to the car, to the track – than what I could expect. It’s not the bad side of a hobby, he’s not relaxed at all, but perhaps he’s enjoying it a bit more now with less pressure…”