Kimi Raikkonen has a quiet yet careful confidence in the F60 this year. The new car tested well and will grid-up in Australia with the KERS system on board. But as he points out, it is early to know just how competitive they will be. The 2009 regulations changes have seriously up-ended the F1 world and no one is quite sure just how their new cars will stack up. Testing only revealed a large amount of parity in all the teams testing times but as they say; testing is testing. Not a good indicator of actually results.
In Podcast #97 here at F1B, Grace and I discussed just how important these first few races are going to be to the 2009 championship. Sure, every race is important throughout history but this year marks a different level of gravitas to the situation. The reason is the unknown nature of the new cars.
Teams like Brawn GP, Williams, Toyota, BMW, Red Bull or even Renault could pose a serious threat if they have got their cars sorted and Ferrari or McLaren have not. Losing critical points in these first races, called the fly-away races at Melbourne, Malaysia and China, is very bad at this point because if McLaren, Ferrari or BMW have not got it right; they will incur big costs trying to play catch up at fly-away races.
The conventional wisdom is that most of the big development on the cars doesn’t happen until they get back to Europe in round 5 in Spain but if the teams are off their game in Oz; that may be too late. Kimi echos that sentiment and suggests that every single point counts with the current points scoring system and Oz could be a precursor of the 2007 and 2008 season.
“I can confirm that I like the F60 more than last year’s car. It’s much more fun to drive and it reminds me more of the cars I was used to some year ago,” he said.
“It’s always a good thing for a driver and a team to have a good start into the season, especially when we remember how the last two seasons ended as far as the drivers’ championship is concerned: I won with one point in 2007 and my teammate was one point short in 2008.
“That means that every point counts. Two years ago I won in Australia, while we had several problems last year. Our goal is to immediately gain some good points.”