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Raikkonen hungrier than ever for victory
June 19, 2008 15:13 IST
Magny-Cours marked the turning point of the Finn's season last year and he needs another French Grand Prix win on Sunday after slipping to fourth place overall, seven points adrift of Poland's new championship leader Robert Kubica in a BMW-Sauber.
"I don't remember when I had such a great lust for winning," the Finn told his team's Web site.
"The last two races were a disappointment, caused by different problems," added Raikkonen, who was shunted out of the last Canadian Grand Prix [Images] by championship rival Lewis Hamilton [Images] in a pit-lane collision.
Before that, the Finn had himself smashed into the back of Adrian Sutil's Force India in the closing stages of the showcase Monaco Grand Prix while in fifth place.
"I think that things will look really different at Magny-Cours compared to the last GPs," said Raikkonen, who won in France last year.
Raikkonen had been 26 points behind McLaren's Hamilton before arriving in Magny-Cours last year, and without an appearance on the podium for four races.
The win was followed immediately by another in Britain and by the end of the year the Ferrari driver had beaten the British rookie by a single point.
"It was here in France last year that my season practically started all over again; And this is what I need now after the two races with no points," said Raikkonen.
"I like this track and I think its perfect for our car," added the 28-year-old. "I think we'll be competitive and that we can go for the maximum result."
Raikkonen's main rival is likely to be Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa [Images], who started on pole in France last year and is now three points ahead of him in the standings and level with Hamilton.
Kubica, the first Pole to win a Grand Prix as well as the first BMW [Images] Sauber driver, will not be giving up his lead easily and can also be expected to be fighting for the podium.
"Nobody who is at the top of the drivers' world championship after seven races is there by accident," said BMW Sauber team boss Mario Theissen, who celebrated an unexpected one-two finish in Montreal.
"We certainly won't be taking our foot off the gas now, but instead pushing forward at full power."
Hamilton, the 23-year-old who had led the championship until his embarrassing gaffe in Montreal, will be less of a threat after stewards imposed a 10-place penalty on the starting grid for ploughing into Raikkonen's stationary car while the Finn waited for the pit lane exit light to change.
Despite that, he believes he can still win on Sunday.
"Mentally it's just something that you learn to overcome quickly," he said of the penalty. "It certainly won't affect my preparations...we've already looked at the best ways of optimising the strategy to help us move up the field.
"I guess I'll just have to pass some cars if I want to get into the points."
While Renault carry the French flag among the constructors, French fans have Toro Rosso's Sebastien Bourdais to cheer on as the sole home driver.
Formula One: The Complete Coverage