"I wish we can have a slightly stronger start"
Kimi Raikkonen addressed the press at the Madonna di Campiglio Wrooom ski meeting on Thursday. The World Champion was happy to be back in the snow, feeling more relaxed than he did a year ago when he made his debut wearing the red of Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro.
Did he ever think he would be returning as World Champion? "For sure we were hoping for it but you never know. We try to do all our work as well as we can and hopefully to achieve what everybody wants, every year, to win the championship. We won two championships last year so I'm very happy for that and it's much nicer to come back here now, one year later, than it was a year ago when I didn't know the people, I didn't know the team, but now it's much easier for me also."
And that's going to make the start of the 2008 season easier as well, even if the man himself is the same. "I don't think I have changed myself too much. Sure, I have achieved what I wanted in my life, so it's a nice thing, but I wouldn't say that winning the World Championship has changed me as a person.
"Coming to this new season, it's hopefully going to be more easy-going, the first part of the season, than it was last year. It's a new season but it's with the same team, so it's going to be much easier for me and much easier for the team, so I wish we can have a slightly stronger start to the year and then we will go from there."
Already Raikkonen is buoyed by the car's performance in its shakedown, which will be followed by a Jerez test next week. "I think it's going to be a normal test for us. The car ran very well in Fiorano but of course the conditions were not ideal. It's hard to say exactly how you feel about the car, but for me the feeling was very good so that's the only way I can tell. I think we are going to see next week in Jerez when we take the car on a normal circuit and then we see. Hopefully the weather will be good. We will have two cars so we hope to have good running and a lot of laps so then we will see."
Kimi explained the test situation within the team, especially with reference to Michael Schumacher's recent tests. "I think that how the testing is now it's very difficult for the test drivers to have many laps, many days, because we don't have such a lot of testing. We drivers do most of the testing just purely because we test what we get. If we are not able to test, it's good that Michael's doing it and for sure it's not going to hurt us. He has good experience of Formula One, he knows what he's doing. For me it's good that he does the tests if we cannot do it."
Kimi was asked about his future with Ferrari, and his status at the start of the season. "I have a contract for two more years and then I always said before that I'm not in a hurry to make any new contracts. For sure, if I want, I could make a new contract tomorrow but I will when I feel like it, I will see what it feels like and then I will finish my contract and before I finish it I will make a new plan and then we will see what happens. So far I enjoy Formula One, I'm very happy with the team, I like to work with the people but we will see what happens in the future.
"I think that it's been the same for me as before," he said concerning his situation within the team. "We drivers start the season at the same level, everybody, and we do the best that we can. We try to win races. There's a point in the season when the other guy's in a better position, you need to make sure that he can get all the efforts from the team and all the chances so I don't really worry about whether I'm number one or number two. I always do my best. That's the main thing."
And what could he improve for this year, in comparison to last? "I think we want to improve everywhere. The car - we know where we have the most difficult time in certain areas in races and on certain circuits, but also I improve my driving every time I go in the car so as a team we are pushing forward and hopefully we can improve in those areas where want."
Ducati's MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner had been very complimentary about Kimi; did he watch MotoGP also and what do he think about Casey as a person and his achievements? "For sure I enjoy watching the MotoGP because there are a lot of things happening and the racing is usually very exciting, plus being in kind of the same team, I watch most of the races. But Casy's a nice guy, we've met in some events which we've done together. He's achieved a lot this year and I think he's going to be there for many many years, winning the championships. He's a nice guy. Compliments back to him. It's nice to hear he says good things."
Kimi was less forthcoming when asked about his former boss Ron Dennis. "I don't really want to get involved in things about other people. It's better not to say anything because otherwise people start thinking differently about us. I think he's a nice guy, seriously. There are many different ways to look at the whole situation. Everybody has their own ideas."
Finally, Kimi's excited about the two new races this season, on the streets of Valencia in Spain and Singapore. "I like street circuits a lot. I enjoy Monaco. It's maybe not the nicest thing for the spectators and maybe on TV it doesn't look the most exciting, but as a person, when you want to go fast, it's good fun there. It will be interesting to see how they (the new circuits) do. We are going to have two new street circuits and how they are going to come, how they are going to look and what they are like to drive. I enjoy it for sure."