After his unbroken run of grands prix and points finishes came to an end at Spa, Kimi Raikkonen heads to the final European race of the 2013 F1 season determined to set another record straight.
While the majestic Belgian venue has provided the Finn with more wins than any other during his grand prix career, next weekend's destination has yet to yield a single trip to the top step of the podium, but Raikkonen is his typical phlegmatic self when it comes to assessing his Monza record.
“It's true that I have never won in Italy,” he shrugged, “For one reason or another, things just haven't worked out for me, but it doesn't mean I can't drive the track. Just because I have not won at a circuit in the past, it doesn't mean that I won't win or get a good result there in the future.
“It is true that I have previously had some very competitive weekends there – once or twice I have been close to the win – but something has always gone wrong. Hopefully, we will have a real chance to fight for that victory this time.”
His Spa retirement brought to an end a remarkable 38-race run of reliability and cemented a new mark of 27 consecutive points finishes in the record books but, perhaps more importantly, saw Raikkonen drop from second to fourth in the 2013 standings and concede another 25 points to overall leader Sebastian Vettel.
“Obviously it was not the first time I've had to finish a race early, and most likely it won't be the last time either. That said, I'm here to race and I want to finish every time, so for sure what happened in Spa was not what we were looking for and not ideal for the Championship,” he sighed, “We knew the day would come. We had such a long period of time with the best reliability of all, so it was only natural that one day luck would go against us.
Heading to Italy, the Finn is now 64 points adrift of the Red Bull driver, but Lotus is pinning its hopes on a long wheelbase version of its E21 at Monza, and Raikkonen is looking forward to the challenge of taming F1's fastest venue.
“It's a historical place with a unique design [and] the atmosphere is just out of reach for every other grand prix,” he noted, “It's so different compared with the more modern circuits as the layout means the car needs to be set up differently.
“Low downforce has not always been the best for our car, but the factory has been working hard to get more speed and stability for us with some changes to the car. It's great to go there with everything working well in your car and see how quickly you can go. To go fast at Monza, you need a car that is good aerodynamically, stable over the kerbs, and has a strong engine as we are using full throttle for most of the lap. I think we should be pretty good in those areas, but we won't know exactly how good until we get out on track.
“Let's wait and see how the car goes on Friday morning and then we'll have a better idea of what can be achieved.”