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Raikkonen: It's wide open

NEWS STORY
06/03/2014

Kimi Raikkonen is not convinced that Mercedes already has the opening rounds of the season sewn up, insisting that the pecking order is still not clear.

Following a strong performance with the F14 T in pre-season testing, the Finn has good reason to feel confident as he heads towards the season opener. Then again, Melbourne has been something of a happy hunting ground for him, not only did he win the race last year, with Lotus, but on his debut for Ferrari in 2007, one of only a handful of drivers to win their debut race for the Maranello outfit.

"I remember very well my first win with Ferrari," he told Ferrari.com, "it couldn't have been a better start to my seventh year in Formula 1, with a dominant win from pole.

"Winning always feels great for me," he admitted. "Nothing could be better. Last year, we also managed to win, which certainly surprised people because unlike 2007, at Lotus we weren't favourites. So, if I had to compare the two Australian wins, somehow, winning it last year for the second time felt even a little bit nicer after such a difficult pre-season testing period.

"Australia is a great place to start the season," he continued, "Melbourne is a wonderful city and, for us Europeans it always feels a bit special to be in this different part of the world. Only the weather is not always that nice. I can remember only one GP here where there was sunshine all the time. Of course, I'd prefer dry and hot weekends, especially this year with a completely new car and so many technical aspects still to be understood completely."

As part of his preparations for the season opener, Raikkonen has spent time driving the albert Park track on the team simulator, in an attempt to anticipate various unusual situations that could arise because of the characteristics of the 2014 car.

"The track is not that difficult and it's a combination of a street circuit and a permanent race track and the event is very well organised," he said. "Sure, if your car is not well balanced then life can get difficult because you can lose a lot of time compared to those have got it right. If it rains, then the track is very, very slippery and the white lines can be really treacherous.

"Making predictions has never been my habit," he admitted, "and this year there is even more reason not to. We are heading down under with brand new cars and I reckon it is wide open and anything can happen. In Maranello, we have worked hard and the F14 T seems to be a good car, but the track will tell who is quickest. When we start running to see where we are, we will at least have some data to give us a starting point."

Chris Balfe

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