Kimi Raikkonen insists Alfa Romeo’s strong pace during the first pre-season test came without the team pushing its new car in qualifying specification.
During last week’s test, Raikkonen posted the fourth-fastest time overall on the softest tire compound available on day three, ending up within 0.4s of the quickest lap registered by Nico Hulkenberg, and ahead of the fastest Mercedes time. Despite using the C5 tire for his lap, Raikkonen says it wasn’t a qualifying-style run and he has yet to find out the car’s full potential.
“We haven’t done any qualifying laps, we just ran with different tires, but I think generally it’s a well-balanced car and it has pretty good grip,” Raikkonen said. “Once we start pushing we’ll see where we get.
“We did a pretty decent amount of laps, but you always want to do more. We tried different things and next week we’ll try some more, do proper setup work, put everything together to get the most out of every little detail.”
While Alfa Romeo appears much more competitive than it was at the same stage under the Sauber name a year ago, Raikkonen says he is not setting any goals or targets from pre-season testing.
“No, (expectations) not different because I don’t have any expectation. We can only do our best, but I think the team has built a good car and I think that’s a good starting point. We still have a lot of things to work on — for sure more work to be done than maybe in a bigger team — but I think so far it has been good.
“It’s impossible to say (where Alfa Romeo will be) from testing. Maybe we’ll get some idea from next week but, for sure, in two or three weeks, whenever the first race is, we’ll find out. I think from our side we’ve been pretty happy, but where we’re going to end up in the first race, we have no idea. So far everything is OK.”
The Finn added that his transition from Ferrari to Alfa Romeo has been an easy one, with the two teams enjoying a close technical partnership.
“In the cockpit, once you sit in, it all looks pretty similar, so it has been quite smooth, I have to admit. Obviously there’s work to be done — that’s the same for everyone — but once we put everything how we like I think it should be pretty OK.”