Raikkonen ready for Ferrari challenge

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"Buongiorno a tutti" were Kimi Raikkonen's first official words as a Ferrari driver when he addressed journalists at the Madonna di Campiglio press meeting in Italy this morning. It earned him a round of applause as members of the press perhaps compared him to his predecessor, Michael Schumacher, who managed the same words after several years!

Everyone, of course, wanted to know how Kimi was handling the transformation from McLaren driver to Ferrari driver, from the silver of what is perceived as the austere combination of McLaren and Mercedes to the red of the most legendary team in Formula One.

"When I first went to the factory and for the test I noticed the atmosphere is different, is very good," said Raikkonen. "It's more like a family feeling, even if people are working as hard as they can, doing their best, it's very relaxed and the people are easy to work with so I was very happy and that's really what I expected and what I heard before, so I only have positive things to say. For sure, it's very different from McLaren. For me, it's only going in a positive way, so it's been very pleasant.

Kimi was asked if he would make adjustments to his life as a Ferrari driver. McLaren personnel, it was said, had suggested that he wouldn't fit in at Ferrari. Kimi was briefly on the offensive against his old team.

"I don't know what McLaren has said or what they think," he said. "I don't know how they can say things when they don't know how things are at Ferrari so I'm not going to change my way. It's been working well enough, it's the way I do things. I don't think that even if I had changed my style, how they wanted to do things, it would have changed results because in the end the problem wasn't really how I do my training, or what I do in my private life. At McLaren it was more the car wasn't lasting the race or was not quick enough. I don't really mind what they say, I think I am going to do things my own way.

"Of course, we need to work together as well as we can. We need to change the way we work together. I am not Michael Schumacher and the team doesn't expect me to be. They know that I work in a different way and we just need to find the best and most effective way to work together. I don't see any problem with that. When I was at the test, what work I saw was nice and easy going, much easier work than it has ever been in Formula One.

"People always said it was going to be very difficult with Ferrari, but from what I saw, it's been the complete opposite, so I only have good things to say about it. I don't see any problems between me and the team and how we work together."

Even the Ferrari colour suits him. "I think red is more warm for sure. It's very nice. I like the style of the team, with everything. Of course it is a bit special to wear the Ferrari clothing for the first time and the racing suit is new and exciting. It's always nice."

Kimi certainly looked in good form, and was more relaxed than has been the case in the past. "I was taking things easy at home at Christmas. I haven't had much else to do. It's the most time that you have for those things and I don't know if I've done more or less, I don't count it. I do what I like to do and I think I'm in good shape and that's the only thing that matters.

Asked how big the pressure is for him to replace Michael, Kimi replied "I don't feel any pressure because when I went to McLaren it was a similar situation and it was early in my career. Of course, coming here, people are always comparing to the previous driver who was Michael, the main guy in Formula One for many years. It's normal that people are expecting and comparing me but I don't feel it. I just do my own thing and work on my own way. I think it's going to take a while to get used to how the team works and also how I work so I don't really feel pressure for that."

Source Ferrari