Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen has predicted that the first two corners after the start will be the key to a good result today in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, the twelfth round in the 2009 FIA F1 World Championship.
Raikkonen will start sixth in his Ferrari F60, but with his KERS button to give him a boost off the line, the Finn is well aware that he can probably make up a few places and get the jump on the likes of BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica and the Brawn GP car of Rubens Barrichello, who start immediately in front of him.
Speaking following qualifying on Saturday, the 'ice-man' added that he was reasonably pleased with how qualifying went. Indeed the post-car qualifying car weights show that he was one of the heavier runners - and that may also give him an edge.
“Of course I would have preferred to have started from further up the grid, but I think we did our best today. We knew it would be hard to be at the front, but all the same, this is a good position, especially as the gaps between the front runners are pretty tight,” Raikkonen reflected. “With more fuel on board, the car handles better than on a light load and that was the case again in this qualifying session.
“Such an unusual grid makes it even harder to make any predictions for tomorrow and we will have to make the most of any opportunities that present themselves. The final outcome will depend a lot on the first two corners after the start.”
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali meanwhile is hopeful that Raikkonen will be able to put his F60 on the podium come the finish of the 44-lap affair.
“One could certainly say the starting grid order is unexpected,” Domenicali continued.” As we have already seen several times this season, the pecking order between the teams can change really suddenly from one race to the next.
“For our part, we would have liked to be a little bit higher up with Kimi, but all the same, we are in a position that will allow us to fight for a podium finish, especially when looking at the F60's performance over a long run.”
Chris Dyer, Raikkonen's race engineer, concurs that a top-three result should be possible: “We are a bit disappointed because, after yesterday's showing [when we were third overall in practice], we expected a better result.
“Sixth place for Kimi however must be assessed in the light of the different fuel loads of all the cars in the top ten. We believe we have come up with a good strategy and, given the car's performance over a long run, we expect that, yet again, we can fight for a place on the podium.”