Kimi Raikkonen says he hopes to able to challenge for a second victory of the F1 season this weekend in Bahrain.
Raikkonen, who took first place in the season-opener in Australia, picked up his first podium since returning to the sport at the Sakhir circuit last year – chasing home Sebastian Vettel to take second place.
The Finn will now hope to replicate that kind of form this time around but will hope to go one place better to maintain his strong start to the 2013 campaign.
“I've had some nice races there and picked up some good points although I've never won,” he said. “It's a little bit different from others we visit and it's quite nice to be out there in the sand! Wherever you look around the track you can just see sand in the distance and you notice it in the paddock too. It's a circuit where I've never won before, so maybe this year I'll change that.
“Obviously, it was a good race for us as a team last year. It was my first podium for Enstone, and we had a good fight all the way. We took a gamble during qualifying, and it didn't work out well for us. This meant we missed out on the top ten, but we managed to use our tyres pretty well in the race and we ended up fighting for the top step of the podium, which is always a good thing.
“Apart from Malaysia we've had good races this year, but that said there have only been three races so it's too early to say anything. Just because we had a good result there last year, it doesn't mean Bahrain will be good for us again this year. We have to try and do the best we can in every race and try to score some points to keep us in the fight. If everything goes our way, it will be a good result again. However, it is useless to promise anything beforehand. This is motor racing and whatever can happen, will happen.”
Technical director James Allison said he felt confident that the E21 would be on the pace in Bahrain, even though no major upgrades are planned for the fourth race of the season.
“We certainly went well there last year and I hope it will be good for us this year as well!” he said. “There are things that are special about Bahrain which might make us more optimistic. For example, it is one of the most aggressive tracks on the rear tyres and if we have a particular strength it does seem to be that when we get the car set up just right it does seem to use the tyres rather gently. Secondly, in Kimi in particular, we have a driver who is able to get the car to go quickly without really burdening the rear axle. While we are looking forward to the weekend, it is abundantly clear that there are several very strong teams this year, so we can expect a tough fight as always.
“We won't be bringing anything particularly revolutionary on top of the China upgrades, but we will trial a suspension modification - internal rather than to the wishbones – which is an evolution of something we ran to good effect during pre-season. You're always trying to find the right compromise between the mechanical grip that the suspension's articulation offers to the tyres and holding the aerodynamic platform at the optimum height from the road, and we believe this is a step forward in helping us achieve that.”