Kevin: "It is time to win already"

29.06.2012

World Series by Renault revives this weekend following a four-week break after third meeting in Spa. Kevin spent most of that time in his native Estonia relaxing before the races at Nürburgring. Here is what he had to say about the season, the car, the French language and... the school.

Kevin in Monte Calo waiting to get into the car

It turns out you have two summer breaks this year in WSR.

Yeah, sort of. We now had three free weeks and race meeting on the fourth weekend. But proper summer break is that in July and August.

What have you done during the break? Just going to the gym?

Basically yes, there is not much else you can do. No races, no tests.

Your classmates from high school got their certificates recently but what about you?

In principle I only have to pass final exams.

How on earth can you handle those exams with your busy schedule?

Last year I passed exam in chemistry, now I have four more to do. If only had I been in Estonia during the time of exams, I am sure I could have passed them even without special preparation. To pass we only need to gather 20 points out of 100 and with easier ones – English, Estonian, geography, social studies – it would not present a problem for me.

Now you should wait until the next spring?

Basically it depends how I am doing in motor racing.

Your classmates who spent 12 years together with you got their certificates and left the school, but not you. How did it feel to look at them?

Not a great feeling...

Maybe somebody thinks about how boring it was to deal with exams whilst Kevin was trying to conquer the world?

May well be, but I would feel much better if I had the school behind me.

Living in England, how often do you visit your team in France?

I have been there a couple of times. For instance the week after Spa races we had straight-line tests.

Are you speaking French already?

I know few phrases. It would be much easier if my vocabulary was hundred or two hundred words, then I could build something on that. But it’s very tough if the language is completely unfamiliar. Of course I have dinners with the team on race weekends but by that time of the day I am usually so tired it is really difficult to learn anything.

Is it confusing when everything around is French?

It can be boring during the dinner when you are the only non-French among 30 persons at the table. But it was the same last year, I am already used to it.

Lotus F1 boss Eric Boullier told you are going to try team’s simulator in the near future. Has it happened already?

No. The simulator is not completely ready, it still needs some calibration.

But what is the difference between it and game simulator?

Game simulator is only useful to learn the track if you haven’t been there.

Basically the simulator should be more difficult to “drive” than a real car – you feel no forces and get no information through your bottom?

In that sense it could be more difficult, that’s right. But some drivers have higher sense of danger than the others and you have nothing to fear in the simulator. You can try your limits there and in the case of crash you just restart the session. It would be much more complicated in real life.

You haven’t been on the podium this year but can you at least be content with some races?

Fourth places in the second race in Aragón and Monaco – there was nothing more I could have done. In Monaco, if you have bad qualification it is rather difficult to climb higher. In Aragón we had engine problem and I lost 0.6 seconds per lap - all on straights! If you add up those 0.6 seconds over 25 laps it makes 15 seconds which was exactly my gap to the winner. Everywhere else it went completely wrong.

In Spa we had poor pit strategy on Sunday. On Saturday there was simply nothing we could do. Team decided to change the whole gearbox pneumatic system as a precaution. There had been a few problems with it and the logic was that a brand new part simply can’t fail. Then after five laps it failed on my car – no air pressure, no gearchanges.

Is the new car generally more fragile?

It seems so recently but maybe it is down to the amount of our misfortune. If gearbox failure happens towards the end of qualification you still could have done some fast laps and then it wouldn’t be so critical. But if something happens in the wrong time, it can be really bad.

How does the new car feel?

Physically it is much harder. In the beginning it was harder for hands and neck, because the steering was heavier and braking distances much shorter. Aerodynamics is also very-very good in fast turns, this also puts some strain on the neck. Otherwise I have get accustomed, I am no more thinking about these things.

Talking about the neck – has your shirt size increased?

Quite a much! I don’t know the exact size but it is really difficult to close the upper buttons on my shirts.

Where do you stand compared to you team-mate Jules Bianchi?

He is leading me 3-2 in qualifications but I could have beaten him at Spa during the first session on the dry track. I was faster during both free practice sessions, we didn’t use all things [to make the car faster] and I was still less than one tenth behind the fastest. He was only 16th, then took fourth next day in the qualification. But it is difficult to judge.

Certainly it can be the other way on some other tracks, every weekend is different. You can be in better shape or the track can suit you better.

In Monaco Bianchi and Sam Bird just drove away. Was it down to their experience?

Experience certainly had something to do with it. Their best laptimes were a second faster than mine but I was stuck behind Alexander Rossi. I am not going to say I could have clocked the same time given free track but I guess I could have been somewhere between Rossi and those two in laptimes. But yes, generally Bianchi was faster than me in Monaco.

What are your hopes for the rest of the season? Some wins?

Sure, it is time to win already, or at least to get some podium places. There are five or six teams which can be fastest every weekend. We are among them, especially on the dry track.

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