Kimi Raikkonen's new contract with Ferrari was unsurprisingly the talk of the F1 paddock as the 2015 season reconvened at Spa-Francorchamps ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix – and the Finn was in bullish mood regarding his future with the Scuderia.
Despite his return to Maranello not yet having gone according to plan, Raikkonen defied suggestions that he might be axed by Ferrari ahead of the 2016 campaign by inking a new deal for next year, and he is confident that the results will come.
“Obviously [the aim] is the same as every year – we want to do as well as we can and hopefully challenge for the championship next year,” he noted, “I'm sure we can produce an even better car than this year. The team is working very well together and we all feel very good. Obviously I'm happy to stay and now we have to try and do a good second half to the year, maximise what we have and then prepare for next year.”
Asked whether anything was lacking from his two stints with the Prancing Horse, the 2007 world champion admitted that both parties would naturally have wanted more success, but sees no reason why that can't be addressed in the coming months.
“I've had good years, difficult years, ups and downs, but I've always enjoyed it,” he said of his relationship with the team, “Obviously, you always enjoy it when you get the results, but I've had a great time here and I'm very pleased that we can be working together next year.
“As a team, as we are now, I really feel that we are going in the right direction and we can do great things in the future. We're more happy when we can do better results - and you guys write less negative things after that - but we believe in what we're doing and I'm sure we'll have many happy days in front of us and a lot of good results.”
Despite his future now being settled for another year, Raikkonen insisted that there was no weight to be lifted from his shoulders as he tries to improve a solitary 2015 podium and distant fifth in the championship. He remains one point shy of fourth place – ironically held by one of the drivers, Valtteri Bottas, tipped to take his place – but has less than half the tally racked up by team-mate Sebastian Vettel.
“[The contract] doesn't change anything,” he maintained, “We'll still try to do the same as any other race so that contract thing is not going to change our approach for the weekend. Hopefully, the end result will be good, but we will do the same things as in all the other races. Hopefully, we can have a good weekend, with no problems, and see where we end up.”