Australian GP - Raikkonen: "I don't feel any pressure"
Albert Park, 13 March - As reigning world champion, Kimi Raikkonen was centre stage this afternoon for the first official FIA press conference of the season. Looking back one year to when he was making his debut as a Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver, the Finn felt that this year, the situation was more comfortable. "The situation now is a bit easier, because last year, we were not so ready or well prepared and I was new to the team," he said. Commenting on the media's decision that he is already favourite to win the 2008 title, Kimi smiled before saying: "I don't feel any pressure if I am favourite, because the season has not even started yet. Let us wait and see and this weekend and for the rest of the season, we will do the best we can. From what we have seen in testing, it looks like two teams and four drivers will again be very close." Last year, the Scuderia's closest rival was McLaren and this year, the British team's drivers have just two years F1 experience between them. "I don't think if the fact that Felipe and me have more experience can be a factor. I am not sure if it means we are stronger and it is too early to say."
On to the subject of the loss of electronic driver aids, Raikkonen gave this analysis of how the process of dealing with this rule change has developed over the winter. "When we first tried running the '07 car without these driver aids it was actually quite difficult, but when the new car arrived, it already had elements built into the design to deal with this situation and combined with new tyres it became much easier." As for how these rules will affect the racing, the Finn saw two areas where it might play a part. "In heavy rain or very slippery conditions, it might make driving more difficult and the other thing will be the starts, as the slightest mistake from the driver and you will be very slow off the line. But I have not had to change my driving style to deal with these changes."
With this being the first race, there are more unknowns than usual, but an additional one this weekend will come from the weather, as the temperatures (already in the 30s) are much higher than usual at this track. "At least by testing in Bahrain, we experienced slightly warmer temperatures than at the Spanish tracks," revealed Raikkonen, but it was not at all as hot as this. But I think we should be okay and we will find out tomorrow."