Räikkönen: Still a chance we can win a race
8 October 2013 – Lotus driver Kimi Räikkönen believes he can still win a grand prix this season, despite the dominance of Red Bull.
Sebastian Vettel is on a roll currently and too his fourth victory in succession - and his fifth from the last six - in Korea last weekend.
Räikkönen, however, was encouraged after finishing second in Yeongam and is hopeful he can get back on the top step of the podium before the 2013 F1 season ends in Brazil at the end of next month and he departs for Ferrari.
Speaking ahead of the race in Japan this weekend, Kimi added that qualifying is critical if he is to challenge for a victory and repeat what he managed in Australia at the start of the season.
“Qualifying was pretty awful for me in Korea, but it’s difficult to say whether a better grid position would have made the difference [and whether we could then have won],” said the Finn. “Sebastian [Vettel] was faster than us at the end; not massively, but a little bit for sure and his tyres were fresher too so I think it would have been tough to catch him. We were closer to the Red Bull in Korea [though] than we have been in some races, but not close enough.”
“If we can improve our performance on Saturdays, however, then there’s always a chance we can win, so we’ll keep trying for sure and see what we can do,” continued the 2007 F1 World Champion.
Räikkönen meanwhile is relishing the prospect of competing at Suzuka this Sunday on a circuit he regards as one of the best on the calendar.
“Normally it doesn’t make too much difference to me where we race – as long as we have a good result then I’ll enjoy it – but Suzuka is a track I look forward to every season. It’s a proper circuit that’s been around for a many years, and you can understand why as it’s a challenge for the drivers and usually makes for some good racing too. It’s fast, technical and there are some good places to overtake, which to me is what racing should be about,” he explained.
“As a racing circuit it has unique characteristics and belongs in the top three in the world with Spa and Monaco. I enjoy winning races the most at the places like these. For me coming to Suzuka was never that enjoyable because of the long journey, but driving a Formula 1 car on the track has felt great every time.”
“It’s [got] a bit of everything really,” he continued. “There are some corners where you are flat out – or very nearly flat out – but then there are others where you really have to balance the braking and throttle carefully to maintain the best speed.
“If you push too hard then you can easily be punished, as I found out in qualifying last year when I was on my best lap in the final session. Hopefully this time we’ll get everything right and be fighting at the front; that’s where you can have the most fun at a circuit like Suzuka,” he concluded.