I presume you are all aware that Kimi Raikkonen has started testing with Lotus @ Valencia this week. The team use the 2010 car with last year’s tyres, in an effort to bring Kimi up to speed, i.e. familiarize with the electronics, the tyres and the various procedures. Reports state that Kimi completed 300 kms yesterday (23.01) and will do another 400 kms today.
At this point, it is clear that Lotus aren’t testing anything meaningful for the 2012 season. They can’t do that with their 2010 machine and it would make very little sense. It’s all about assessing Kimi and helping him find his feet. However, the team (as per the Article 22.3 of the FIA Sporting Regulations) are limited to 15,000 kms of testing, per calendar year. A chunk of that time has already been wasted during the season in straight-line testing and the Abu Dhabi young drivers’ test day. Kimi’s Valencia test means that another 700 kms must be deducted from that amount; 700 kms that have nothing to do with car development or reliability testing. That’s a big chunk of mileage to give away.
Pre-season testing will be crucial for 2012. Many teams will be experimenting with radical exhaust solutions, marginal cooling (just look at all those different sidepod ideas floating about) and other mechanical solutions such as uber-slim gearboxes, liquid mass dampers, etc. Pirelli will also introduce new tyre compounds, which will require testing and understanding. Some teams, if you recall, had problems with some of the Pirelli compounds throughout the entire last season.
At times like this, it’s hard to justify throwing away testing mileage like that. If Kimi turns out to be his pre-2006 self, then it might be worth it. Although I have no doubt with regards to Kimi’s talent or ability behind the wheel, his motivation remains a big question mark. Whether Kimi retains his motivation after a few races fighting for 12th place remains to be seen.