03 Feb 10
There's a new Flying Finn in this year's World Rally Championship, in the shape of former F1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen.
Having decided to put his circuit career on hold for a while, Raikkonen will make his World Rally Car debut next week in Sweden, driving a C4 WRC for the Citroen Junior Rally Team, partnered by co-driver Kaj Lindstrom.
Ahead of him this year is a 12-round programme with the French manufacturer, and the chance to test his skills against the best rally drivers on the planet.
At the launch of the World Rally Championship in Paris on 2 February, Raikkonen talked EXCLUSIVELY to wrc.com about the challenge ahead.
What are your ambitions for the season ahead?
"First of all we have a lot to learn from the rallies, and that's not going to be an easy challenge. We did one rally last weekend [read more here] and it definitely helped us going to Sweden. We'll just take things from there. We need to do our best, learn as quickly as we can and hopefully get some good results."
Will you be disappointed if you don't get a podium this season?
"I don't know, because it's too early to say. Like I said, we need to learn a lot. Hopefully at some point we can be really fast. But at the moment I don't know what to expect."
What are you looking forward to most this season?
"I would say everything, because everything is new and completely different to Formula One. At this stage it's all exciting; it doesn't really matter where we go or what we do, it's a new thing."
What is it about driving a rally car that you find so appealing?
"For me the thrill of driving is all about the challenge. And in rallies there are so many variables - like different conditions, different roads and different surfaces - that there is a big challenge. When you go on a stage, things can change from corner to corner so much and it's just a great feeling to drive the car when it's like that. There are a lot of things you can learn. For instance, in a rally you might have to master three different types of conditions. In Formula One that's not the case."
How do you get faster in a WRC car?
"You need experience and a lot of practise and testing. It takes time but I guess more kilometres will the main key to improvement. Also I need to learn the notes and be able to listen very well. They're the main things."