Kimi Räikkönen says he would be surprised if the SF71-H is not fighting at the front of the field again this weekend at the Baku Street Circuit, but he acknowledges that there is still work to be done to improve the car.
The Scuderia Ferrari driver has finished on the podium in both the Australian and Chinese Grand Prix in 2018 and had been on course for the same kind of result in the Bahrain Grand Prix, only to be released by his team before his pit stop was completed, which forced him to retire and also caused one of his mechanics to be injured.
Räikkönen is happy that the team has shown its strength in all three races of the season so far, and he feels if Ferrari continue its development push, the will continue to head in the right direction.
“We need to be stronger everywhere, but I think that our car has been good so far,” said the Finn. “Speed wise we have been pretty ok, it would be a surprise if we cannot fight at the front.
“The feeling with the car has been pretty straightforward so far this season. I think we improved since the first test; tyres played a big part in it, with better and stronger front ones. For sure there are always things to improve, but that’s a never-ending story in Formula 1.
“We need to tidy up certain elements and do things in a stronger way. But if we keep working the way we are, I’m sure things will go in the right direction. Let’s see how this weekend goes. It’s a long way to the end of the season, and I want to do well”.
Räikkönen heads into the Azerbaijan Grand Prix with an eye on his third podium of the season, and although it is the first track of the season that requires a low-downforce set-up, he says it is not necessary to do anything different there than anywhere else to be competitive.
“To be good here in Baku you don’t need anything more than at any other track,” said Räikkönen. “Obviously it’s a different layout, a kind of street circuit, but quite an open one, apart from the very tight area around turn 9 and 10.
“For a street circuit, it requires quite a low downforce level, probably the first one of this kind we run this season.”