Kimi Raikkonen ready for major assault
London: Kimi Raikkonen`s hopes of boosting his challenge for the drivers world championship were encouraged this week with the news that his Lotus team are planning their biggest upgrade package of the year for next weekend`s British Grand Prix.
The 33-year-old Finn, who has lost ground to championship leader and defending triple champion German Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull in recent weeks, is currently 44 points behind. Vettel has 132 points ahead of Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Ferrari on 96 and Raikkonen on 88.
But with the introduction of their new improvements, he believes he can bounce back to form after struggling at the last two races on temporary tracks in Monaco and Montreal.
He said: "Silverstone is a more normal circuit and we`ve been OK at every other permanent circuit so far this year. There`s no reason why we shouldn`t be back to the positions we should be with this package."
Raikkonen was the victim of a collision with impetuous Mexican Sergio Perez of McLaren at the Monaco Grand Prix and then a disappointing weekend in Montreal at the Canadian Grand Prix where he qualified 10th and finished ninth.
Both of those circuits, however, are temporary constructions and Raikkonen and his team believe that a return to the traditional characteristics of permanent racing tracks like Silverstone will see them enjoy a return to form.
Lotus track operations director Alan Permane said: "We have a tighter, figure-hugging bodywork package which should give some benefit - - especially if the weather is quite cool at Silverstone.”
"There`s a new front wing, suspension profiles and suspension upgrades in addition to various other aero upgrades, which combine to give us what should be our biggest step forward of the year.”
"This is a good thing, of course, but we`ll be running them in the context of all our rivals probably unveiling significant upgrade packs too."
Raikkonen added: "We just have to be patient, do our very best over the entire weekend and step by step we can start catching the leaders."
Raikkonen won the 2007 world championship for Ferrari after a final flourish of victories gave him the chance to overhaul title-race leader Briton Lewis Hamilton of McLaren in Brazil.
He has won 20 of his 182 races, but needs a few strong performances - perhaps coupled with some rare bad luck for Vettel - to close the gap at the top.
His Silverstone record is encouraging. He took pole there in 2004 for McLaren and was on the front row again in 2006 and 2007 for McLaren and then Ferrari respectively, but his only victory came in the latter race.
He finished second in 2004 and third in 2006. He also enjoyed podium finishes in 2003 and 2005 and finished fourth in 2008.