Raikkonen: “Whole package” improved for Ferrari, but work remains

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The opening preseason test is hardly the time to declare true contenders. Kimi Raikkonen has long known this.

So while his Ferrari camp led three of the past four days of Formula One testing in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain – twice with Sebastian Vettel and with himself on Wednesday – Raikkonen said afterwards that it doesn’t mean all that much.

“It’s the whole package that has progressed, but there is still a lot of work to do,” said Raikkonen, who did acknowledge that the team had made “a good step forward” over the winter in developing the new SF15-T.

“We are not comparing ourselves to the others, we just got on with our own job, without looking at what they were doing. Times are of relatively little importance; what matters is that we have put together a good number of laps without having any real problems.

“Today’s conditions were not that easy, with too strong a wind blowing on track, but then it’s the same for everyone. As I said, we now have a good basis from which to start the development work.”

Two more F1 preseason tests are on tap for Barcelona next month, and they should provide a clearer view of which teams will start 2015 with an advantage and which teams will be on the back foot.

Ferrari’s undergone many changes leading up to this season in hopes of returning to contention. One of those changes involved the addition of a new team principal in Maurizio Arrivabene, and following the first 2015 test, Arrivabene said he was pleased that the team had “rediscovered its motivation and team spirit.”

“If one makes a comparison to last year [at Jerez], these past few days of testing have produced encouraging signs,” he said. “The team has worked well, both at home and at the track and our drivers did a great job, providing the engineers with valuable feedback.”

But like Raikkonen, he tempered his optimism.

“In terms of performance, I don’t think our competitors – one in particular – have shown their true potential over these past days,” Arrivabene said, likely referring to reigning World Champions Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes. “I think we will only discover the truth about them and about ourselves at the last Barcelona test session.”

Daniel Ricciardo would relish being Lewis Hamilton’s teammate

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BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — Daniel Ricciardo says he would relish the challenge of having Lewis Hamilton as his teammate if he joins Mercedes next year.

Ricciardo is out of contract at Red Bull at the end of the season and expressed interest in joining teams like Mercedes or Ferrari to help him challenge for the championship.

The Australian says he would “love to obviously be challenged against the best and Lewis is obviously up there.”

He adds: “I don’t want to say it’s just Lewis I’m looking for but that would be a good challenge.”

Ricciardo says he won’t accept a faster car if it means playing second fiddle to an established star.

He says “there’s always been really good clarity and fairness (at Red Bull) … and I would expect that environment everywhere.”