Kimi Raikkonen has already made a good impression on everyone at Lotus F1, according to trackside operation director, Alan Permane.
Raikkonen is making his comeback this year after two years away competing in the FIA World Rally Championship and after the test last week at Jerez, the 2007 F1 world champion had already made his mark. Indeed he was fastest on the opening day and fifth fastest on day two, before handing over the E20 to team-mate, Romain Grosjean for days three and four. In the end the Finn finished tenth on the combined times.
“There's an awful lot more to F1 than just putting one lap together and that's what makes a champion," Permane told ESPNF1
. “That's the sort of thing you can see in Kimi and see how good he is; how he uses the car over a long run and how he looks after the tyres.
“He's never driven these tyres before and already after a couple of days you can see that he's understanding them and altering his driving to look after them - he's got a lot of feel in the car.
“He's [also] very easy to work with, very, very easy indeed - no complaints at all. His feedback is excellent, he spends an awful lot of time with his engineers looking at stuff, going through data and telling us what he wants.
“From what I can see, he's happy firstly with the car we've given him, but also the other stuff – the bits that he asked for when he came, the type of steering wheel he wanted, the seat, the seat belts, things like that.
“We've also delivered the braking stuff he wanted, he's got all that. I think he's a pretty happy guy.”
So can he be the team leader?
“Being a world champion, we can't get a lot better than that. It's a difficult one, the question of leaders and do we need a leader. I think a driver will become a leader if he delivers and we can deliver to him,” Permane responded. “Then he can tell us what he wants, we give that to him and he delivers again, so we build up a trust in each other. I think that's how a driver becomes a leader.
“I think so far everything seems to be working well. Of course there will be ups and downs, we've had a golden week far beyond our own expectations. That, of course, can't carry on.
“It would be lovely if it could, but there will be ups and downs and that will test us and that's when you see how strong people's characters are - how hard someone is prepared to work and dig the team out of the shit when things aren't going well,” he added.