Kimi Räikkönen felt driving on the opening day of practice for the Australian Grand Prix felt ‘different’ than it did during pre-season testing, but he feels there is plenty more grip available around the Albert Park circuit to what there was twelve months ago.
Despite it being the first competitive day of action of the 2018 season involving all twenty cars, the Finn felt it was a normal day of running, and ahead of Saturdays final practice session and the first Qualifying session of the season, he and his Scuderia Ferrari team will be looking to improve on their set-up to bridge the gap to the front runners.
Räikkönen was 0.849 seconds behind Lewis Hamilton in the first session of the season, but trimmed that to just 0.283 seconds in the afternoon, with his own lap time improving by more than six-tenths of a second, but he knows more work needs to be done to battle the Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport team, while Aston Martin Red Bull Racing are also involved in the battle.
“It was a pretty normal first day here in Australia,” said Räikkönen. “Everything felt a bit different from testing, but it’s normal when you are in a different place. The track itself felt much better than last year, in terms of grip. It looks like there are a lot of leaves, but this doesn’t really affect the driving.
“It’s not easy to find a good set-up, but the start today was not too bad. We tried a few things and did our best to improve here and there. We are considering which way we should go and trying to figure out the best way to do that.
“It’s a normal story, especially at the beginning of the year. Let’s see what the weather brings tomorrow. Tonight we’ll go through all the work we have done today, we’ll pick all the positive things and see what we can do.”