Preview: Raikkonen Aims to Stop Renault

Kimi Raikkonen fancies his chances in Malaysia this weekend after Formula One's extraordinary season-opener in Australia.

Preview: Raikkonen Aims to Stop Renault

Kimi Raikkonen fancies his chances in Malaysia this weekend after Formula One's extraordinary season-opener in Australia.

McLaren's 'Ice Man' took his first career win in Sepang's sweltering heat two years ago and, despite Renault's victory in Melbourne, believes he has the car to succeed again on Sunday.

"The result may not show this but we have the pace to challenge for victories," said the Finn after charging from the back of the field to finish eighth 10 days ago.

Renault's Italian Giancarlo Fisichella romped to victory after being favoured by the fickle weather in Australia, and he recognises the McLaren threat.

"I think on some circuits they will be quicker than us, at others we will be a bit quicker than them," said chief strategist Pat Symonds.

McLaren insiders are confident that Malaysia is one of those circuits that favours Raikkonen and his new Colombian teammate Juan Pablo Montoya.

However, Renault have made aerodynamic improvements, including a new floor for Sepang, and they too are bullish.

"We know the weather made the circumstances strange in Melbourne, so we expect other teams like Ferrari and McLaren to be much stronger in Malaysia," said Fisichella. "I think we will expect to fight at the front again. But if bad weather does not play a part, I am sure the race will be a lot closer than in Australia."

Alonso Confident

Spanish teammate Fernando Alonso, who became the youngest driver to start a Grand Prix from pole position in Malaysia in 2003, was also upbeat.

"I love the track, there are lots of long, fast corners and it is a place where you really see the potential of the cars," he said. "I think we will see more of the potential of the R25 in Malaysia."

There are many more variables in Formula One as a result of new engine and tyre regulations, not to mention the heat that will put cars and drivers under immense pressure.

"Nobody knows how the tyre performance will unfold in temperatures like we have in Sepang, and it will be interesting to find out," said Fisichella.

With engines having to last for two races now, reliability will also be a concern for most.

Ferrari's seven times World Champion Michael Schumacher failed to finish the opening race and is unlikely to change engines to avoid complicating the timetable for the introduction of the team's new car.

The German remains confident he can fight back with an old car that was still fast enough to take his Brazilian teammate Rubens Barrichello to second place in Australia.

"Sure, zero points in the first race were not what I had hoped for," he said. "And that makes me even more determined to do better in Malaysia.

"After what we saw in Australia we are definitely able to compete with our interim car, even more so than we thought." said Schumacher. "So I think we can expect to do quite well in Sepang and achieve a good result."

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