Kimi Raikkonen feels if Ferrari is unable to challenge for victory at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix it will come as a huge shock to the Italian manufacturer.

After Ferrari claimed victory with Sebastian Vettel at the opening two Formula 1 races of 2018 in Australia and Bahrain, the iconic marque missed out in China due to the safety car period turning the race on its head while Vettel was sent into a spin by Verstappen having previously been fighting Valtteri Bottas for the lead.

Raikkonen feels he has an equal chance of winning to Vettel, despite appearing to be used to block Bottas during the Chinese GP to aid his teammate’s charge, but fully expects Ferrari to be fighting at the front at the Baku City Circuit with the track playing to the strengths seen in recent Ferrari cars on street layouts.

“It is a different layout and a street circuit, but quite an open street circuit apart from the tight area around the Old Town,” Raikkonen said. “It’s quite low downforce for a street circuit.

“It's the first circuit this year where we’ll run with low downforce and we need to see where we are. The car has been good everywhere, so far, so it will be a surprise if we cannot be in the front or give a good challenge.”

Raikkonen is hunting his first F1 race win in over five years, since his triumph for Lotus at the 2013 Australian GP, but has instantly gelled with the SF71H despite having his pre-season testing curtailed by illness and snowy conditions. The Finn feels this comfortable integration with the 2018 Ferrari car gives him added confidence in the fight for his long-awaited victory.

“It’s not the number of days in the car, it’s the work we do and it has been pretty straightforward,” he said. “In the beginning there’s always a lot of things to learn about any new car, the tyres are slightly different which has given me a good feeling.

“I think tyres play a big part of it, better, stronger front tyres, so that helps my feeling also.”


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