LONDON: Ferrari’s Formula One world champion Kimi Raikkonen returns to France this weekend hungrier than ever for victory after two races in a row without points.
Magny-Cours marked the turning point of the Finn’s season last year and he needs another French Grand Prix win on Sunday after slipping to fourth place overall, seven points adrift of Poland’s new championship leader Robert Kubica in a BMW-Sauber.
“I don’t remember when I had such a great lust for winning,” the Finn told his team’s website http://www.ferrariworld.com.
“The last two races were a disappointment, caused by different problems,” added Raikkonen, who was shunted out of the last Canadian Grand Prix by championship rival Lewis Hamilton in a pit-lane collision.
Before that, the Finn had himself smashed into the back of Adrian Sutil’s Force India in the closing stages of the showcase Monaco Grand Prix while in fifth place.
“I think that things will look really different at Magny-Cours compared to the last GPs,” said Raikkonen, who won in France last year.
Raikkonen had been 26 points behind McLaren’s Hamilton before arriving in Magny-Cours last year, and without an appearance on the podium for four races.
The win was followed immediately by another in Britain and by the end of the year the Ferrari driver had beaten the British rookie by a single point.
“It was here in France last year that my season practically started all over again; And this is what I need now after the two races with no points,” said Raikkonen.
“I like this track and I think its perfect for our car,” added the 28-year-old. “I think we’ll be competitive and that we can go for the maximum result.”
Raikkonen’s main rival is likely to be Brazilian team-mate Felipe Massa, who started on pole in France last year and is now three points ahead of him in the standings and level with Hamilton.
Kubica, the first Pole to win a Grand Prix as well as the first BMW Sauber driver, will not be giving up his lead easily and can also be expected to be fighting for the podium.
Hamilton, the 23-year-old who had led the championship until his embarrassing gaffe in Montreal, will be less of a threat after stewards imposed a 10-place penalty on the starting grid for ploughing into Raikkonen’s stationary car. – Reuters
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