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Raikkonen looking to build on Australian GP win
The unflappable Finn doesn’t seem concerned that three-time defending F1 champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull and Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso may have figured out how to pull off a two-stop strategy that was a big part of Raikkonen’s success.
“We don’t do anything different this weekend than we did in the previous race or last year,” said Raikkonen, who has won two of the past three races, dating back to 2012. “If people think that we are leaders, it makes no difference to our work. What we did or what we’re going to do this weekend or any other weekend. Like I said, we try to do best and hopefully we can score some good points.”
Vettel took pole in the opening race and looked set to carry on his dominant form from last year. But the German failed to show the same pace during the race and deteriorating tires forced him to make three stops.
Red Bull blamed the relatively cool conditions in Australia, although why the team’s tires disintegrated more quickly than others remains a mystery. Vettel said a “miracle” is needed to fix the problem before the weekend.
“We need to see if it will change here,” Vettel said. “I think we will suffer high degradation. There are limited things you can do as a driver. Obviously, there are lots of things you can do to react to the problem but limited things you can do to prevent the problem.”
The Spaniard was runner-up this year in Melbourne and is hoping to go one better in Malaysia and repeat his victory from last year. In a race stopped for 51 minutes due to the rain, it appeared Sergio Perez was about to overtake Alonso but the Mexican driver ran off the track with six laps to go to allow Ferrari to win.
“We have more or less a competitive car and in Australia. Everything worked quite fine for us,” Alonso said. “We showed a good potential, but the Australia circuit is strange and very unusual. This weekend is for us a little bit of a confirmation. We need to confirm the car is performing well after positive feelings in winter and Australia.”
“I think the pace of the Lotus was very good but nothing we could not do. They had a very clean race with no traffic, with very good strategy. But the pace was nothing out of reach, so here we can fight a little bit closer.”
Another F1 team expected to contend this year is McLaren, even though top driver Lewis Hamilton shifted to Mercedes in the offseason. The British-based team has 2009 champion Jenson Button and Perez in its two seats.
“For us at the moment, the important thing is to keep working and seeing what you can do,” Button said. “I feel this weekend we’re not going to be winning a grand prix, but I feel we can find a step forward. It’s about developing as much as we can, as quick as we can. I don’t know if we are very good at that.”
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