Kimi Raikkonen is adamant that there has been 'no change' in his attitude in 2009 compared to that of last year – a campaign during which the Finn was repeatedly panned for a series of lacklustre performances that made it look as if his mind, not to mention his right foot, was somewhere else entirely.
The Ferrari star needs to prove to his doubters this season that he is still the same driver that pinched world championship glory from right under the noses of then McLaren-Mercedes pairing Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso at the last gasp in 2007 – but he is insistent that he has no need to alter his approach in order to do so, and typically tight-lipped on his much-debated future.
“I have a contract for this year and next and after that it is up to me to decide what I want to do,” Raikkonen asserted. “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.
“I think we had a good winter and the car looks okay. It's hard to know where we are compared to the others, especially because of the effect of all the new rules. 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 tyres have changed the most. 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 now a different situation.
“The weather could have more of a significant 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.”
The 'Ice Man' was also characteristically phlegmatic on the topic of the 'diffuser row' that is threatening to overshadow the early part of the 2009 campaign – and sceptical about whether the devastating testing and Melbourne practice pace displayed by Brawn GP's new challenger will really translate once the serious business gets underway.
“That's always been part of racing,” he reflected of the top flight's latest in a long line of controversies. “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.”