12 March 2012
Raikkonen: We might be last and we might be first
Kimi Raikkonen is heading 'down under' with an open mind, admitting that Lotus 'might be last and might be first'...
Kimi Raikkonen has refused to set goals, ambitious or otherwise, for his return to competitive F1 action at this weekend's Australian Grand Prix, preferring instead to carry quiet confidence to Albert Park.
Both the Finn and new Lotus F1 team-mate Romain Grosjean took turns to head the timesheets throughout pre-season testing, but the 2007 world champion is wise enough not be carried away by the performance, which saw both reigning champion Red Bull and nearest 2011 rival McLaren trailing. Speaking in a preview to the Australian race, Raikkonen claimed that he was simply out to get the most from the weekend as F1 establishes an early pecking order away from the vagaries of testing.
"I will try to do as well as I can and see where we end up," the oft-taciturn Finn commented, "For the first race in Australia, we want to have a good weekend without any major issues or mistakes. I don't know where we're going to be on the grid – nobody knows. We might be last and we might be first – let's see when we get there.
"If you look at the lap times from testing, everybody is very close to each other. We don't know what everyone was doing with fuel load and that makes a massive difference. We'll have some idea after practice in Melbourne and then, after qualifying, everyone will know exactly where we are. We'll see where we are in the first
races and go from there. We'll do the best we can and the best with the car."
Despite his reticence, however, Raikkonen believes that Albert Park - a venue that has been kind to him in the past - could also suit Lotus' new E20.
"Australia is a nice place - even though it's a long way from Europe," the 2007 Australian GP winner explained, "It was good to score a point on my first time at Albert
Park, and the podiums and race win in 2007 obviously made me happy. The circuit itself is not the most difficult on the calendar, [and] hasn't changed at all so I'm confident I know where it goes...
"You need a car with good traction and everything from testing says that the E20 has good traction, so that will help us. Strong turn-in and stable braking help too, and those areas also feel good with the car, so we are well placed.
"The track can be a bit slippery at the beginning of the weekend and the Melbourne weather is not always very warm - the Melbourne weather can definitely be a bit tricky. This will be the first race, so I don't know how we'll compare to the other teams, [but] my engineers have been running simulations and looking at the test data, so we have an idea of how the car should work at Albert Park, [although] we won't know for sure until we get out on track. It's very difficult to say before we've been out on track, but I think and hope we'll be reasonably strong. We're still learning things, but everything is going smoothly and there are no problems at all, so it's a good position to start the season."
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