Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix 2015

Formula One: Iceman warms up to changes at Ferrari

All eyes are on Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen when he arrives at a UPS event in front of Raffles City (left). The Finn is at ease in an interview at the Shell Trackside Laboratory (above), noting that his team have gone into overdrive to make changes for
All eyes are on Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen when he arrives at a UPS event in front of Raffles City (above). ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
All eyes are on Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen when he arrives at a UPS event in front of Raffles City (left). The Finn is at ease in an interview at the Shell Trackside Laboratory (above), noting that his team have gone into overdrive to make changes for
The Finn is at ease in an interview at the Shell Trackside Laboratory (above), noting that his team have gone into overdrive to make changes for the better.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Raikkonen says a raft of changes has put the F1 team on track to chase for honours again

Change is the one true constant in Formula One.

However, even in a sport that never stands still, the upheaval at Ferrari last year was unprecedented.

Still, it was all for the better, Kimi Raikkonen said yesterday, ahead of this weekend's Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix.

Meeting The Straits Times at Shell's trackside lab inside the Ferrari garage at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, the 2007 Formula One world champion was confident that the resurgent Scuderia could challenge for honours again.

TAKING A NEW ROAD

There have been lots of changes... the team, the car, the engine. But they are good changes. There is still some way to go but, compared to where we were last year, it is a big step.

KIMI RAIKKONEN

He felt that the trigger was the raft of changes the team went through after an abysmal campaign last year.

"There have been lots of changes... the team, the car, the engine. But they are good changes," he said.

"There is still some way to go but, compared to where we were last year, it is a big step."

Usually poker-faced and known to mumble through interviews, The Iceman showed a different side to his personality during the interview arranged by Ferrari's fuel and lubricant partner Shell.

The energy giant will roll out its V-Power NiTRO+ for motorists today. The premium fuel shares 99 per cent of the same compounds used in its Formula One cousin.

When he mistakenly cited the similarity between the two fuels as 98 per cent, the usually icy Finn broke out in an expression of mock nervousness and laughed heartily.

  • Shell a long-time Ferrari driver

  • Since the 1930s, Ferrari cars have used fuels and lubricants made by energy giant Shell.

    The partnership has extended to the Scuderia's Formula One team.

    A group of 50 scientists from Shell chip in with more than 21,000 man-hours of work annually to refine and concoct the best fuels to drive the Italian giants' mechanical beasts.

    Off the track, Shell has made available an online tour of the Prancing Horse's F1 garage.

    Captured in 360-degree photography and spiced up with sound, the aim is to immerse F1 fans in the Ferrari experience and see the partnership in action. Called Scuderia Ferrari Uncovered, the virtual tour can be enjoyed at scuderiaferrariuncovered.shell.com

But there was little to laugh about when 2015 began and it was a tense period in the Ferrari pit as the winds of change blew in.

When Maurizio Arrivabene arrived last November in place of Marco Mattiaci, he became the team's third principal in eight months.

James Allison (technical director) and Mattia Binotto (engine director) were the other new faces.

In the boardroom, Sergio Marchionne replaced chairman Luca di Montezemolo, who stepped down after 23 years at the helm.

But with the ship steadied, Ferrari bounced back on the circuit, taking in 270 points already to sit second in the constructors' championship this season.

Last term, they finished fourth with only 216 points.

Raikkonen, 35, has also seen an upturn as he is fifth in the drivers' standings with 92 points.

This is an improvement over his worst-ever display in 2014 when he ended up 12th with just 55 points.

He even qualified second last time out at Monza though he failed to get off the start line quickly.

"I had a bad start.

"I lost power right at the beginning and the car stalled

"Issues like that are not ideal but I had to make up and I had a good race," he noted.

Although the team are too far behind leaders Mercedes now, who are a massive 181 points ahead in the constructors' standings, Raikkonen believes the Prancing Horse will give the Mercedes team a real run for their money.

He said: "Some races were close. Now, our aim is to be fighting for wins. I am very happy with how much progress we have made.

"We will see over the weekend (how Ferrari do in the Singapore Grand Prix).

"Singapore is a difficult but exciting race.

"Although the safety car comes out every year, it can sometimes benefit you.

"A lot of things can happen here."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 18, 2015, with the headline 'Iceman warms up to changes at Ferrari'. Print Edition | Subscribe