Kimi Raikkonen has said that he did not expect to start his Ferrari career with a win, despite the apparent ease with which he won. Raikkonen was virtually unchallenged during the race weekend, clinching pole and going on to win with style.
Looking back to the race on the official Ferrari website, Raikkonen said, “”I’ve never hidden my joy, since the first day I came to Maranello. Now, after the success in the first race with the team, I am – in case this is possible – even more joyful.
“When I signed my contract with Ferrari I thought that it would be nice to win as soon as possible, but in Melbourne it came even faster than expected, when I managed to win in my first race with the Prancing Horse. I have never in my whole career won the opening race of the season and that was something that gave me a whole lot of satisfaction.
“When you start to race for a new team, you try to be successful as soon as possible and to manage to do that on the day of the debut means that you couldn’t be any better. In a certain sense last winter’s dream came true. Ferrari and I really started with the best foot forward: victory, pole position and fastest lap in the race.”
Raikkonen went on to explain how a gremlin in the communications system which left him without radio contact with the pits was worse than he made out in the post-race interviews.
“From the outside it might have seemed an easy race, but as I already said on Sunday afternoon at the press conference, it was not easy at all – there are no easy victories. We had some minor problems in Melbourne, the biggest of which was the malfunctioning of the radio, caused by a plug defect. It all began as soon as I got into the car on the grid: from there on I could not communicate anymore with the pitwall. Fortunately we had planned the race down to minute detail and I just concentrated on this program over the 58 laps.
“We knew that the start was crucial: I gave my all to hold the position I had conquered the day before and I succeeded. Once ahead of the pack after the first turn, things became slightly easier, although I could not communicate with my engineer Chris Dyer. We knew that our rhythm in the race was very competitive: I did not have to go to the limit, but maybe if the radio had worked I would have gone faster.
“On one occasion – just about ten laps before the end the race – I almost fell asleep! I got distracted, my concentration levels dropped a bit and I locked the wheels and took Turn Three slightly too wide: even without radio I knew that they were saying: ‘Kimi, wake up!’ The team had lots to do keeping me informed with the display boards. A couple of times I couldn’t see them, because it was difficult to distinguish them from the ones of the other teams.
“When I passed the chequered flag it was a really emotional moment and it was fantastic to celebrate together with the boys from the pitwall. It was a moment I would never have missed for anything in the world.”