Kimi Raikkonen was too sleepy to be clearly audible. Home-grown Narain Karthikeyan sounded optimistic without being convincingly hopeful and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg was looking ahead to making his presence felt at the Buddh International Circuit this Sunday.
Speaking during a press conference here on Thursday, 2007 World champion Raikkonen stated nothing had changed for him this season following his comeback after a three-year break.
“I came last night at 1 o’clock,” said the former Ferrari driver.
“I’m enjoying it (being on the circuit) again. It’s the same places. Okay, there are some new circuits and places to come to this year and a new team (Lotus), but apart from that, Formula One hasn’t changed and it’s exactly the same.”
Asked about the trouble with the tyres that most teams were facing this season, Raikkonen said: “I admit I had some thoughts about the tyres before I did one private test. It wasn’t the race tyres. When you come from rallying, they have much more grip and the tyres were okay for me.
“They wore off a bit faster than in the past in some races, but it’s the same for everybody and they’ve been doing a very good job for Formula One. So I’m happy with that.”
Narain, racing for last-placed Hispania Racing Team (HRT), had the advantage of having raced more than any other driver at the BIC.
He sounded satisfied with the track. “I think the track is already in a lot better condition than last year. It was very dusty last year, but because of the landscaping that they have done, the dust has settled.
“There’s no more construction around the circuit, so we already have a higher level of grip and the circuit looks quite nice. As you know, I drove the MR Formula 2000 car a month ago. The tyres are fine. We have the same allocations, but it’s a little bit softer. So it should be fine here.”
Talking about the layout, Narain said: “No, the layout remains the same. Just that the kerbs are extended a little bit on turns five and six. Apart from that, as everyone has said, the layout is fantastic and I’m glad they haven’t changed anything. It’s nice to drive on, it’s pretty flowing and it is fast.”
Hulkenberg, aiming to help Force India dislodge Sauber from the sixth spot in the last four races of the season, said: “I’ve been here a few times, but I enjoy it every time I come. It’s very different to all the other Asian places we go to.
“They’re always very welcoming, very friendly. Obviously, the track is new to me, so I’ll have to learn. I’m generally looking forward to the weekend really. It’s a special weekend for us and hopefully we can entertain the crowds.”