Kimi Raikkonen says that his amazing Australian GP victory came easily after he was the only top runner to make a two-stop strategy work.
Raikkonen started seventh and made his first stop at the same time as his main rivals, but a long second stint with the medium tire got him into the lead and guaranteed that he only needed to stop once more.
“I was pretty disappointed this morning after the qualifying,” he said. “Obviously there was only one lap really on the dries, and I took it a bit too easy, and got a bit of a small mistake in one corner. It was more timing and getting it right than really the maximum speed from all the cars, so not the ideal starting place, but it was still 10 places better than last year, so not a disaster in that way. I knew that my car is quite good.
“It’s been feeling good all weekend, and when we did the longer run it felt good. We only destroy the front tires, so we knew if we get the front tires lasting it should be fine. In a way I was pretty confident – but of course you have to get through the start and the first lap, and it’s the first race, so you never know what’s going to happen with the conditions and the circuit after the rain and with tires. So there’s a lot of question marks. I felt I had a good car and it turned out to be pretty good.
“Our plan was to do two-stop and it’s always difficult, especially the first races, to really know when to stop, and not doing it too early and not too late. We got it, like he said, exactly right. The team worked very well and we had a good plan, and we follow the plan and it work out perfectly for us. I could save the tires and I could go fast if I needed and I could really drive very easily. One of the easiest races I’ve done to win the race. Hopefully, we can have many more of this kind of races.
“Of course I’m happy that we didn’t really have to go full speed all the time, so it’s kind of a good sign, a good race for us, but as I said, it might be a completely different story in the next race, so there’s nothing to jump up and be so extra happy about, because it’s a long season and in the end we want to be on the top for all the races, and it’s going to be a hard season for that.”
Not surprisingly, Raikkonen is not getting too excited about a championship challenge just yet.
“It feels good but it’s only after one race,” the Finn said. “It doesn’t really change our aim and our work for this year. Definitely we are happy with the win but there is an awful lot to still do to try to win the championship. We seemed to have a good car here, and hopefully it works well in the next races also.”
Regarding next weekend’s Malaysian GP, he said: “It’s a difference place. It’s going to be much hotter there, so it’s very difficult to say how the cars will feel, who will be fastest after having just one race. I think we have to do two or three races before we really know who is where and what’s going to happen.
“It’s probably going to rain again in Malaysia at some point, but it will be a different circuit, different conditions. Our car worked well here at least, and usually – at least last year – in hot conditions it’s been good for us, so hopefully it will turn out to be a good weekend next week.”Formula 1