Raikkonen: Ferrari must work in “unified way” to turn things around

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Ferrari battled through a dismal 2014, and that in turn has led to plenty of changes in Maranello going into the 2015 season, including the additions of Maurizio Arrivabene as team principal and four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel as a driver.

One of the elements that’s staying on for the Scuderia is Kimi Raikkonen, whose return season with the team saw him fail to capture any podium finishes. But the Finn believes that the new blood inside Ferrari will be beneficial as the team tries to return to glory next year.

“I think Maurizio is great and perfect for the role he has been given,” said Raikkonen to the Ferrari website yesterday from Abu Dhabi. “I’ve known him from before and have seen how competent he is. I think he will bring to the team his experience and that will prove to be very beneficial.

“As I’ve already said, Sebastian is a friend and I’m happy to be working with him. I think we can work well together as a team, pushing each other to the limit on track for the good of the Scuderia, as we aim to get it back to where it should be.”

Ferrari has gone without a World Championship since Raikkonen himself brought it home in 2007, and in the first year of the new V-6 era, it struggled mightily against its Mercedes-powered rivals and Vettel’s former home, Renault-powered Red Bull.

From Raikkonen’s perspective, everyone in Maranello needs to work as one to ensure that the hard lessons learned in 2014 will help them in the season to come.

“It’s not been an easy year for me or the team,” he admitted. “Ferrari is always expected to win races and fight at the front. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, but for the next season we laid down the basis for Scuderia Ferrari to come back to the level it should be at.

“There’s a lot of work to do but we know which areas we need to improve on. This job has already started and in the factory, we have everything we need, in terms of personnel and the means to make the necessary progress. All we need to do is work as a team, in the unified way that typified this team in past years.

“I’m sure the 2015 car will be much more competitive, although we will have to wait for the first test session to see where we really stand.”

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

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Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.