Raikkonen Feeling Buoyant Ahead of France Gp

By: Anthony Fontanelle

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen is trailing BMW Sauber's Lewis Hamilton, the championship leader, by 26 points. The Finn is positive a chain is in the air as he heads to Magny-Cours for the French Grand Prix.

Although he has finished no higher than fourth in the last four races, Raikkonen, currently fourth in the standings, believes his title chances will receive a welcome boost in France, after enjoying a successful day of testing at Silverstone in the UK last week.

"Last week was a perfect week. We had a very good test: the car was much better than at the races in North America," Raikkonen said. "So I'm really very confident of the race in Magny-Cours. We have new components, above all in the section of aerodynamics; and we have taken a step forward as far as the performance is concerned: if it is enough, we'll only know in France."

The Finn added, "It's true, I never came in first here, but I really enjoy driving on this track. The tarmac is extremely even and the track offers slow and fast corners; that makes it very challenging. Good aerodynamics and good traction for the exits of the slow corners are very important here. Five years ago I came close to victory: I was leading the race, but then I spun off the track due to oil lost by a Toyota and Michael (Schumacher) passed me to win his fifth of his seven titles. I hope that this year things will be different!"

The Finn finished his day at Silverstone second to Toyota's Jarno Trulli, while team mate Felipe Massa went one better, setting the fastest time of the week in the F2007. As a result, Massa seems equally confident that the Ferrari team is closer to finding the pace to match McLaren. "At Silverstone, we tried a new aero package and I immediately felt it was working well and I was very happy with the balance of my F2007," added the Brazilian.

Last season, Ferrari was the team to beat in Magny-Cours, with Schumacher claiming his fourth victory and Felipe Massa bringing the second car home in third, just behind Fernando Alonso, then with Renault.

"I think we have some good ideas for the next upcoming races, which can change the situation. But we have to ensure we make no more mistakes and it would be nice to think it is time for our rivals to make some mistakes to give us a bit of breathing space. Magny-Cours and the French Grand Prix could be a good weekend for us. Last year, I finished on the podium and it was the start of a good run for me in the second half of the championship as things started to come right for us," said Massa.

This season, McLaren is the team to beat with newbie phenomenon Hamilton and two-time world champion Alonso. As Ferrari chases McLaren, the Sauber team is securing its BMW tuning up parts to grab advantage in Magny-Cours.

"The Magny-Cours circuit has a lot to offer - two tricky chicanes, a high-speed section and some slow corners. I'm looking forward to the race weekend. The track is demanding, I like the countryside around the circuit and you tend to eat very well in France," said Nick Heidfeld of BMW Sauber.

Robert Kubica, Heidfeld's teammate is expected to do make a comeback. "I can't wait to get back into the car. I may not have been given the green light to compete in the USA, but I hope the medical examination at Magny-Cours will be a formality," he noted.

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