Kimi rolls back the years

'James Hunt' reappears in Monaco

By Mike Wise in Monaco.   Last Updated: 25/05/12 5:47pm

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Kimi Raikkonen caused a ripple of nostalgia among F1 fans of a certain age during opening practice for the Monaco Grand Prix when he appeared in a replica helmet to that worn by James Hunt.

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The Finn has paid tribute to the 1976 World Champion before, entering a powerboat race under the pseudonym 'James Hunt' whilst dressed in a gorilla suit in 2007 and, later that year, winning a snowmobile event in his native Finland under the same adopted name.

However, Raikkonen presented his more usual understated self to the press on Thursday when asked whether Hunt, who died of a heart attack in 1993 aged 45, was a hero of his.

"It's just a different design, that's it," the 2007 World Champion said. "It was a nice time, I think, when they raced."

Not that fans had much opportunity to see the new design: Raikkonen only completed a solitary installation lap in the morning after he decided the steering on his Lotus was not responsive enough for the demands of the street circuit.

The problem was rectified for the afternoon's outing but Raikkonen's running was cut short midway through the 90 minutes when rain started to fall.

"It's a bit better if you have faster steering but unfortunately it didn't work as it was planned so I couldn't really drive it," Raikkonen said of the issue.

"We had to change and there were too many things to change and you have to break up the car - we had to take the whole front end off."

Raikkonen said the problem was so severe that there was "no point" in running in Practice One and having the issue fixed between sessions.

However, he denied that the lost track time has necessarily placed him on the back foot.

"Of course it's not helpful but that's why we have practice sessions: to see if we have some issues," he said. "Usually when you have some problems and you don't get running in the first one then you have (bad) weather conditions in the second, so it's a bit more painful.

The 32-year-old, who finished 19th fastest in the afternoon, added: "We didn't get many laps in the dry but we just have to fix a few small things and I think the car is okay."

Although Lotus have yet to join the varied list of winning constructors this season, they have appeared a threat almost everywhere and Raikkonen reckons it will be much the same for him and team-mate Romain Grosjean this weekend.

He said: "I didn't get many laps in the dry. But I did just compare with what Romain did and it seems to look pretty good, so I think we are probably in a similar position than any other circuit."

Raikkonen's limited running also left him unable to try the supersoft tyres which made their first appearance of the season in the Principality.

"I think if we get the tyre working well then the car will be okay. We had some front locking issues but I think we didn't get enough laps to get the tyre working well, but not to worry," he added.

"I think the set-up is fine but it's just to try to get the tyre working."

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