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Raikkonen certain of improved one-lap pace

Kimi Raikkonen believes Ferrari's qualifying pace will be much improved at this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix, claiming that the F2007 has been lacking on its single lap pace so far this year.

Although Raikkonen and teammate Felipe Massa have started on pole at all three races so far, both drivers believe that the car is not as strong as it should be in getting performance from its tyres for that one quick lap.

And with the team encouraged by last week's test at Barcelona, with major car upgrades evaluated for the first time, Raikkonen is optimistic that their race strategies will no longer need to be compromised through fear of not getting to the front of the field.

"As I already said over the last weeks, we have to improve the performance in qualifying," Raikkonen told Ferrari's official website.

"It was not really easy for me to get all the potential out of the car on a single lap, because we never managed to prepare it at the best.

"Now I'm really happy about the steps forward: although it's really difficult to overtake another car, even when it's slower, it makes things a lot easier when you want to win, when you can start from the front."

He added: "We were able to improve the F2007 considerably, because the new components work really well and the car is now much closer to my style of driving. I'm much more optimistic now: we can attack the best way possible, as my friend Markku Alen (Finnish rally driver) usually says.

"It's true that you never know how competitive you really are compared to the other teams during the test sessions; obviously for that we have to wait for the qualifying and the race; but the lap times give us some hints."

With teams having spent the last four weeks working on major development steps for the Spanish Grand Prix, many believe that this weekend's race will provide the clearest indication yet of just how strong each team will be for the rest of the year.

Raikkonen said: "We come to Spain to win; and we'll do the best to accomplish this goal. It is a hard-fought championship and it is always important to gain as many points as possible.

"The best part of the season is yet to start: summer is coming and we race in Europe."

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Raikkonen says qualifying form hurting him