Raikkonen: Yes, we have what it takes to win the championship

Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen ready and fired up for second year with Lotus

After sitting out two seasons, Kimi Raikkonen returned to Formula One last year and defied the sceptics to finish third in the world championship. The 2007 Formula 1 World Champion – and YallaF1.com 2012 Driver of the Year – talks of his hopes for his second season with the Lotus F1 Team after a successful comeback to the sport

Race winner Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus F1 celebrates on the podium. Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday 4 November 2012.

2012 Abu Dhabi GP winner Kimi Raikkonen

What are your thoughts heading into your second season with Lotus F1 Team?
Kimi Raikkonen: I’m feeling pretty good. Last year was my return to F1 and it went pretty well. This year will be my second with Lotus F1 Team and my eleventh season overall in F1 so I’ve got a pretty good idea of what to expect. I’m sure it will be an exciting season and I’m sure there’ll be lots to talk about. For me, I will continue to do the best I can; let’s see how good our car is, and how good the cars of the opposition are too.

Is the continuity of going into your second season with the team beneficial to you?
KR: It helps. It’s not a massive thing which will suddenly mean you start winning all the races, but it’s nice to be at the same team as you understand how they work, and they understand how you work. We quickly developed a pretty good way of working together last year and there’s no reason to think that won’t continue this season.

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus E20. Formula One World Championship, Rd11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Budapest, Hungary, Saturday 28 July 2012.

Kimi Raikkonen during the Hungarian GP weekend

Are you still learning as a driver?
KR: I don’t think you ever stop learning, but there is less to learn than if you’re a rookie. I don’t think I could say I’m a rookie. We had new tracks last year; that’s always something nice to learn and for me best learnt on the tracks themselves. There will be a new car which we’ll want to develop and get working [to] its best. There are always changes in the sport; some small, some big. Generally everything’s pretty similar, and the feeling of racing on track is pretty familiar.

This is the second year of a two-year deal; are you thinking of 2014 and beyond?
KR: I’m not really thinking beyond this season at the moment, but I’m sure there will be talk before the end of the year. I enjoyed my comeback to F1 last year and there’s no reason to say I shouldn’t enjoy the 2013 season too. I know there will be big changes to the cars and regulations for 2014, so who’s to say that won’t be exciting.

Kimi Raikkonen aiming for his fifth Belgian GP victory at Spa-Francorchamps

Kimi Raikkonen made a happy return to F1 last year

Have you set yourself targets and objectives for the season?
KR: To do the best job I can. I’ve not driven the E21 yet so it’s difficult to say what could or could not be possible. We know we had a good car last season, but everyone is working hard to make the best car. I will be working with the team to help get the car as strong as we can, then in Melbourne we’ll have our first taste of results. It’s a long season from there. 2012 was a good start; let’s see what we can do in 2013.

Do you think the team has what it takes to win a championship?
KR: Yes, I think they do. It’s clear from working with them that they are racers, and you can see in their history that they’ve won championships. Nothing I saw last year made me think that another championship was impossible in the future. Of course, there is some pretty tough competition out there and everyone wants to win. The team have beaten everyone before and there’s nothing to say they can’t do it again.

Are you looking forward to working with Romain again?
KR: We had a pretty good relationship last year and it’s clear he’s fast and motivated. On track we were pretty close to each other at times but we didn’t have any issues. It’s good when you have a team-mate who’s fast and works hard. I think we should be fine in 2013.

Do you think you proved a point in 2012?
KR: Maybe for other people, but not for myself. I knew I could still perform well in F1 given the right opportunity; it was only other people who had doubts.

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