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Raikkonen faces the media

NEWS STORY
26/03/2009

Kimi Raikkonen had to break off from what looked like a Scandinavian race drivers meeting in the Melbourne paddock earlier today to face the full F1 media for the first time this season.

Breaking off from his chat with former F1 drivers, JJ Lehto and one time Ferrari driver, Stefan Johansson, the 2007 World Champion sat down and faced the press.

"I think we had a good winter, and the car looks ok," said the Finn in his usual succinct manner. "It's hard to know where we are compared to the others, especially because of the effect of all the new rules. We will find out tomorrow and Saturday. I am not sure if the new car suits my driving style better than last year's, but I would say I am happier this time with how our winter testing has gone."

The big talking point in the paddock is the protest lodged against three teams over the legality of their interpretation of some of the new rules. Kimi was asked for his opinion: "that's always been part of racing and when there are new rules some teams always push these to the limit. Personally, I don't know what the truth is. People will decide whether these elements are legal or not. As for the Brawn being so quick, I don't think it is so surprising as they said they have been working on the car for a year already. But the results in testing do not always repeat themselves once the racing starts, so let's wait and see."

Last year, when F1 raced at night for the first time, Raikkonen appeared puzzled that the media was making such a fuss about it and he seemed equally perplexed at suggestions that Sunday's race, which starts at 5 in the afternoon, might end in the dark. "I don't know why people are making so much fuss about this," said the Ferrari driver. "We have raced at night under lights in Singapore and during the winter, we often continue testing while it is getting dark at the end of the afternoon. I don't think it will be very dark at the end of the race, so I'm not worried about it all."

As for all the new rules and changes, the Finn singled out tyres as the key element. "The tyres have changed the most," he maintained. "I was not a fan of the grooved tyres, especially in the last year when there was only one tyre supplier. With the greater difference between the two types of tyre we will have at each race, it is a different situation and the weather could have more significant an effect and it can also change our approach to race strategy. In general, the balance of our car seems pretty good. Everything is slightly different to last year, but it doesn't really change very much, apart from the fact we have a few more buttons to push."

Even though the season has not even begun, the media is already keen to know what the Ferrari man felt he could achieve this year and if he has given any thought to his long term future with the Maranello outfit. "I don't think we will know where we stand until after the first two Grands Prix," he said. "But I'm not here just to finish races. I will be trying to win races and win the championships.

"I have a contract for this year and next and after that it is up to me to decide what I want to do," he continued. "Of course I hope to have a good season this year, but whatever the result at the end of it, that will not have any influence on what I decide to do in the future. In terms of my attitude, there is no change this year from last year, or in fact from any year."

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