home icon / Technical / Features / F1i exclusive: Eric Boullier rates his F1 drivers

F1i exclusive: Eric Boullier rates his F1 drivers

© WRi2

KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN

“Kimi is quite a special case [laughs]! His driving style is similar to Jenson’s in that he is very gentle with the tyres, very smooth, almost phlegmatic. He brakes earlier and in a gentle manner while carrying more speed through the corners, which is not what Nordic drivers usually do.

“Kimi’s greatest asset though remains his racecraft. He can read a race as if he had a GPS in his mind. I remember the 2012 Hungarian Grand Prix. He had started P5 and was quite slow and already 9s behind Hamilton who was leading the race. I asked him over the radio why he was not picking up the pace when he could have gone much faster. I did not get any answer, you know how Kimi is, ‘leave me alone’ and everything.

“The entire strategy was just unfolding live in his head, looking at the data, gaps, and screens: I’ve never seen anything like this.”

“All of a sudden, he started banging laps that were 1.5s quicker all the while keeping a 2s gap to Hamilton. We could not grasp what was happening. That’s only when he pitted that we understood his strategy: he was leapfrogging Romain [who had started from the front row alongside Hamilton]. Kimi’s plan worked to perfection and he came home in second place. The entire strategy was just unfolding live in his head, looking at the data, gaps, and screens: I’ve never seen anything like this.

“Kimi is a more sensitive guy than what he looks like from the outside. That would be a mistake to think otherwise. A good example of the difference between who he really is and what he wants to show the world is his 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix victory. On his in lap after crossing the line, he was warm, even emotional in his thanks to the team over the radio. Then, as soon as he stepped out of the car, the ‘Iceman’ was back. Of course, that’s part of his personality but it’s also a form of protection.”