Kimi Raikkonen.
Kimi Raikkonen. Getty Images Sport - Andrew Hone

Ice Man gets back to business

KIMI Raikkonen took a step towards never being invited to another official press conference here yesterday, proving that two seasons of crashing rally cars has had no adverse impact on his ability to speak Morse code.

Asked how much his driving has changed in the years since he drove for Ferrari in 2009, the mono-syllabic Finn muttered in his finest manner: "I don't know really. I don't think a lot, a little bit older, that's all. It's the same really.

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"Formula One really hasn't changed a lot, the car feels pretty similar, the tyres are slightly different but I was expecting to have more difficulties with them but they seem pretty good, especially when they are new - of course they will wear out a bit faster but it's been nice to drive."

Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion, is widely tipped to spring a surprise for Lotus in the first race of the Formula One season.

Team principal, Eric Boullier, said: "It's going to be freaky! Qualifying in Melbourne and the first races are going to be unpredictable. The [Pirelli] tyres are going to make things very interesting. If you push too hard in qualifying then you are going to be screwed for the first part of the race - and if you pit too early it may mean you need to make an extra stop."

Red Bull's Sebastien Vettel is aiming to become only the third driver, after Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher, to take the Formula One title three years in a row.

He said: "I'm here to win the championship, so that's the target. Whether it's the third or not wouldn't make a difference. Well, it would but... it would be a nice thing but as I said the reason we're here is to race and to win and the season is long, so there are a lot of races to come."

With the phoney war of pre-season testing over, this weekend we may begin to learn something about the new breed of cars.

Vettel added: "This is the first race, there are many more to come. This track is very different to, let's say, a 'normal' race track, such as the track we have been to a couple of weeks ago in Barcelona.

"It's the first couple of races that will show you a trend. Sooner than that is really not possible."



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