Thursday March 21, 2013
Raikkonen boosted by ‘easiest race win’ in Melbourne
MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX
SEPANG INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT (MARCH 22-24)
KIMI Raikkonen arrives in Sepang for the Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix this weekend as the unlikely world championship leader. But he is keeping his feet planted on the ground and feels that the Malaysian GP will be a different battleground altogether.
The season-opening Australian GP in Melbourne saw the Finn beat the more fancied Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso to top spot in Melbourne after his two-stop strategy put him ahead of his rivals who were all doing three-stoppers.
The 33-year-old remarked afterwards that it ended up being “one of the easiest race wins” and he is confident that he can add more to his tally.
“It feels good but it’s only after one race. It doesn’t really change our aim and our approach for the year.
“Definitely, we are happy with the win but there is an awful lot to do to win the championship. We seemed to have a good car in Albert Park, so hopefully it works well in the next race also,” said Raikkonen.
“A win is a win, it doesn’t really matter when in the season you get it. Of course I’m happy that we didn’t really have to go full speed all the time so it’s kind of a good sign, a good race for us, but as I said, it might be a completely different story in Malaysia, so there’s nothing to jump up and be so extra happy about.
“It’s a long season and in the end we want to be on the top for all the races. Everything worked well in Australia. We had no issues with the car all weekend, the car’s been good and the team have been working well. It’s good to come back from winter testing where I probably did the least laps of everybody, in that respect we didn’t have a very special winter.”
However, Raikkonen will be comforted by his good knowledge of Sepang, the track where he notched his first Grand Prix career win in 2003. On his thoughts of the circuit, Raikkonen said: “Malaysia has been good and bad for me in the past. I’ve had a few bad races there but I’ve also won twice, including my first Grand Prix victory, so it’s nice to go back to where it all began with my first win.
“I would not say that circuit is more important for me – it’s not that special for me – but it’s quite a nice place to race. I like it and the challenge is always at the highest level in the beginning of the year especially in the heat.”
“It’s also one of those circuits where it usually rains sometime during the weekend. So you have to plan the programme with that possibility, too,” he reminded.
Both Lotus cars made it to points finish with team-mate Romain Grosjean finishing 10th in Melbourne.