Raikkonen's mind not on title race

Raikkonen's mind not on title race

Formula One world champion Kimi Raikkonen’s mind is far from the defence of his title ahead of tomorrow’s Turkish Grand Prix.

Raikkonen heads into the fifth race of the year with a nine point cushion over his nearest rival in McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton.

The Finn is certainly the man in form after winning two of the last three grands prix in Malaysia and Spain, and claiming the runner-up spot in Bahrain in between.

Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa might have his own thoughts on the matter after taking the chequered flag on the last two occasions at the Istanbul Park circuit.

Massa also set the quickest lap in practice yesterday, although Raikkonen was hamstrung for virtually all the morning session by a gearbox problem.

The 28-year-old returned in the afternoon run to top the standings with what was the third best time of the day behind Massa and the fit-again Heikki Kovalainen in his McLaren.

Ahead of today’s qualifying it appears Ferrari have a slight edge over their McLaren rivals, with Hamilton a quarter of a second down on Massa’s time.

Raikkonen, though, dismissed any title talk at what is still an early stage of the campaign as he said: “I don’t really think about the championship.

“I’m happy I’ve won it once, so whatever happens this season does not really change my life.

“Of course right now we’re in a good position, but we only need to have one bad race and it can all change.

“The first race wasn’t exactly what we were hoping for, but we got one point and that can make a big difference, as we saw last year.

“But since then it has gone very well.”

Raikkonen was a winner in Istanbul on the track’s debut in 2005 when he was then with McLaren, but he believes that counts for nothing this weekend.

“You always try to do your best, but it is a different race, a different circuit and different situation,” remarked Raikkonen.

“But we have a chance to be as strong as we were in the last race, so we will see how it goes.

“As for winning here before, it doesn’t change anything for this year, but I enjoy the circuit.

“It is one of the best new circuits on the calendar, and it is always good fun to drive here.

“It is always a challenge, and that way it is always good to come back if you’ve had a good result before.”

Hamilton spun once in the morning session, but looked stronger in the afternoon and is ready to challenge both Raikkonen and Massa.

“The afternoon went quite well, compared to the morning when I wasn’t very happy with the car – in fact I wasn’t happy at all,” he said.

“This afternoon we made some changes and we were quite competitive I think. We were quite close to the Ferraris.

“We’re looking good for the race. We seem to be very, very close to them (Ferrari) as we always are, but perhaps here we’re even closer than expected.”

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