French GP - "A positive feeling"
Formula 1 drivers can be delicate people at times and many of them insist any air-conditioning is turned off before the start of the FIA press conferences in the Media Centre. Today, as Kimi Raikkonen joined other drivers at Magny-Cours, it was a case of turning the heating on, as temperatures here are more winter like than summer. The Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver began by giving his view on how last week's testing went: "In Silverstone, we had a useful test where the car felt good straight away, but testing is testing and now we are here for a race and of course, this is not Silverstone, but all the same, I have a positive feeling," commented the Finn. As for a general comment as the season approaches its mid-point, Raikkonen was not prepared to make any rash promises. "For sure, I did not expect to be in this position but it is up to us to try and improve and to start winning races again. I hope that now we are back in Europe, we see a change for the better. So, let's see tomorrow how things go once we have been out on track, but I hope we will be in a position to challenge our closest rivals. We are improving, but it is just taking a bit longer than I had expected."
In recent races, Raikkonen has not always got off the line as cleanly as he would have liked. "I have just suffered from a lack of grip off the line," he admitted. "And also at the last race, I was on the harder tyre at the start. But we have made improvements to our clutch which I think will help." Could the cooler temperatures here affect tyre performance? "I don't know what the forecast is for the weekend," said Raikkonen. "But as we are all on the same tyres, it should not have a significant effect. But, if the weather is mixed on Sunday, then it should make for a very interesting race!"
For the moment, this is supposed to be the last time Magny-Cours hosts a grand prix and Raikkonen had mixed feelings about this. "I have to say it is a nice track to drive and race on, but it is also true that there is nothing to do in this part of France. I guess a lot depends on whether we go somewhere better or not."