Mar.23 (Lotus-PVM) It has not been an easy start to the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend for comeback champion Kimi Raikkonen, as the need for a new gearbox means that The Iceman’s race is already somewhat compromised with a five place grid penalty for the gearbox change. After two sweltering practice sessions in the Malaysian sun, the two time winner at Sepang reflects on his day’s work.
How did it go out there today?
Kimi Raikkonen: Not bad, but it could have been better from my perspective. We struggled to find a good balance but the car felt better as the day went on and the long run went well. We had some trouble with the KERS and the team also noticed an issue with the gearbox tonight. We’ll have to change it which means losing 5 places on the grid. It’s a bit frustrating but we’re confident the car will be fixed and it’s better to have this happen now than in the race.
Is the steering more to your liking now?
KR: We’re still working on the steering. We tried a new system today but there wasn’t a huge difference from how it felt in Melbourne. It’s not exactly how we want it yet but it certainly won’t be an issue.
You ran the medium tyres quite early on whereas Romain waited until later to switch from the hard compound. Was there a reason for this?
KR: We just wanted to try different things with the two cars to get a better understanding of how each compound behaves at this track and I think we achieved that. We now know that the tyres start to fade a bit towards the end of the long runs but everyone found the same thing
Do you feel confident of getting into the top 10 this weekend, or perhaps even closer to the front?
KR: It’s difficult to say. We’ll do the best we can tomorrow and see where we end up. We have some work to do on the setup in morning practice but I’m sure we’ll be ready to go when Qualifying starts. The pace is there in the car; if we can unlock it there’s no reason we won’t be as strong as we were in Melbourne.
Talking to your physio, he said the biggest challenge here is keeping cool; there’s no chance of the Iceman melting in this heat?
KR: [Laughs] No not at all. It’s obviously hot here in Malaysia but everyone has to cope with it and I’m sure it won’t cause us any problems. You don’t really notice it when you’re driving, it’s more when you stop at the end that it hits you!
Raikkonen won his first ever grand prix at Sepang in 2003 as a McLaren driver, and won the race again in 2008 as a Ferrari driver.