Kimi Raikkonen has said that there is a noticeable improvement in the Ferrari F14 T ahead of this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix after struggling to find pace last time out in Australia.
The Finnish driver spoke on Thursday about the need to make a big step forwards, and his words appeared to have had the required effect as he finished both practice sessions in second place on Friday at Sepang.
“This was definitely a positive day and I had a better feeling compared to Friday in Melbourne,” Raikkonen said after the session. “I was more comfortable with the F14 T today and even if we had no problems whatsoever, we know there’s still a long way to go and a lot to do.”
Raikkonen did express a concern about the high degradation of the Pirelli tires at Sepang, although this was a problem felt by all teams and drivers due to the extreme heat in Malaysia.
“Our programme concentrated on car set-up and on testing the compounds that Pirelli has brought here,” the Finn said. “The handling seemed to be good even if, as we found on the race simulation, we will have to pay very close attention to degradation, which is particularly high here.
“Now we will spend the evening carefully analysing all the data we gathered over the day, to try and work out how to improve.”
The Finn is chasing a third Malaysian Grand Prix victory this weekend, and if his practice pace is anything to go by, he may stand a good chance of stopping both Mercedes cars on Sunday.
Juncos Racing continued to bolster its entries in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires by signing Carlos Cunha to pilot a third Juncos Pro Mazda entry for 2018. Cunha, who finished third in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season on the back of seven podium finishes, joins Rinus VeeKay and Robert Megennis in Juncos’ Pro Mazda lineup for 2018.
Cunha previously tested with the team at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in October and joined Juncos for the Chris Griffis Memorial test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in November, testing cars for both the Pro Mazda and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires teams.
“It’s great to become a part of Juncos Racing,” said the 18-year-old Cunha. “I am really excited to start the 2018 season with Juncos Racing. This fall we did some testing together and from there I was able to see how focused everyone on the team is and I even felt like I became a part of their family in no time. I am confident we will get great results together next year and I look forward to learning and growing more with the team. It will be a huge pleasure and also a great responsibility to carry the number one on my car, thanks to (2017 Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni) and I hope to deliver it back to the team at the end of the year!”
Team owner Ricardo Juncos added, “We are excited to add Carlos to our Pro Mazda lineup. From the moment we started testing with him in early October, we knew he would be a great fit for our team. Carlos has been very quick in testing and even had an impressive showing in the Indy Lights car at the Chris Griffis test back in October. He had a great run this past season in the Pro Mazda series and we are confident he will carry that momentum into the 2018 season.”