GP MONACO F1/2014
Raikkonen will compete in his 200th GP in Canada (Credit: Ferrari Media)
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Raikkonen Joins 200-Club as Ferrari Prepare for Montreal

The Scuderia Ferrari team sit third in the Constructors’ championship after a rather mediocre start to the season. Fernando Alonso has taken the only podium finish for the team in China, while team-mate Kimi Raikkonen has had his fair share of bad luck and has not finished higher than seventh in the six previous races.

Raikkonen goes into this weekend after a race of two halves in Monaco. He made an excellent start to run third in the early stages, but was hit by the Marussia of Max Chilton during the safety car that gave the Finn a puncture, and after a tangle at the hairpin with the McLaren of Kevin Magnussen, he ended up outside the points.

Montreal will see the Finn making his 200th grand prix start, having made his debut in Australia back in 2001 for Sauber. He is the fourteenth driver to reach the 200-race milestone.

“I’ve been told this weekend’s Canadian GP will be my 200th Grand Prix, which shows how time flies,” said Raikkonen. “I’ll still be racing flat out and the numbers don’t really change anything, but I’m sure it’s a milestone I will look back on with pride in years to come”

“Apart from this being my 200th race, I’m not here just to make up the numbers and getting a good result in Montreal would give us a better reason to celebrate. The Canadian race is one of the most challenging of the season and a track where you have to get everything just right in terms of the car set-up. We have some upgrades for this weekend, but of course the other teams have not been standing still, so the order should not have changed much. Hopefully we can close the gap a bit and get the best result of the season so far for my 200th race, which would be great for the whole team.”

Team-mate Alonso finished fourth in Monaco and spent some time back at the factory to mingle with his engineers and mechanics in between there and Montreal, and the Spaniard acknowledges the importance of interacting with team personnel.

“After Monaco I felt a good atmosphere in the factory,” said Alonso. “Everyone is very motivated and hungry for good results. We are realistic and well aware of where we are at the moment, but from now on, we want to be in a position to get better results and enjoy our race weekends a bit more and everyone is working in one direction to improve the car.

“It is important to spend time with the engineers, the mechanics and other team personnel away from the race weekend, because there are always new ideas or things that spring to mind. It can happen that even while you are just having lunch together, you remember something that you would like to try at the next Grand Prix or even in the simulator. That’s why it’s good for me to spend time here in a unique family environment.

“We have been improving the car on the aero side, while in the simulator, we have done a lot of work on the set-up with the aim of arriving in Canada with a better car. We can’t make any predictions because our improvement has to be seen in relation to what our competitors come up with. We need to match them and then find a plus.”

Looking ahead to the Grand Prix, Alonso is a former winner in Montreal, having won the race for Renault back in 2006. Last year he finished second behind Sebastian Vettel, and is hoping for a strong return to the track this year. The 2005 and 2006 World Champion feels the track is something special to drive.

“It has only six or seven corners, but each one has something special,” insisted Alonso. “They have an element of danger and getting them right brings you a lot of lap time. There is definitely no room for error, as all the walls are very very close.

“You can feel the city of Montreal has a lot of passion for the race and everyone gets involved in some way. I won here which definitely provides good memories and I also remember that big storm a couple of years back which meant the race was stopped for hours and we were waiting on the grid. There have been ups and downs in terms of results and hopefully this year will be a good one”.