Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen was in a cheerful mood leading into this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix. The 2007 World Champion’s smiles were due to the fact that he felt he made a big step forward in getting his troubled F14T to handle the way he likes the car to feel.

Speaking to Ferrari’s website ahead of this weekend’s race, the Finn looked back at the last round at Marina Bay as something of a turning point in a troubled return to the Scuderia.

“In Singapore, we finally had the speed to put together a quick single flying lap in qualifying, as the car behaved the way I’d been hoping for,” he said.

“It was just a shame how we could not maximise the performance of the car because of a minor issue before the last flying lap. It meant we could not do much in the race, as I was stuck in traffic and couldn’t exploit my pace. But for me, the positive thing that weekend was I finally had a good feeling from the car, something I had been waiting for a long time this year.”

After the streets of Singapore, the Formula 1 circus heads to one of its most classic circuits in Suzuka and you don’t need to know much about how Räikkönen loves the challenging figure-of-eight circuit.

Kimi Raikkonen, 2005 Japanese GP

Räikkönen rates his win in 2005 as one of his greatest ever drives.

“It’s a high power circuit, but also technically challenging,” the Ferrari driver added. “So we are looking forward to see how our car goes there compared to the other front runners.

“I like Suzuka a lot. It’s an old-school type of racing circuit, the sort that always gives me the best feeling. I’d have to say my favourite is Spa-Francorchamps, but Suzuka comes very near in my ranking.”

Räikkönen has many positive memories of his nine appearances at Suzuka. His biggest was winning in 2005: after starting from 17th place, he charged through the field and overtook Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella on the final lap to win a thrilling race.

“Apart from my first ever time in Japan and at Suzuka – when I was driving for Sauber and had to retire after crashing with [Jean] Alesi – I have finished every single race in Japan and I have got some very good results, as well. Winning the 2005 race was one of my best ever drives,” he concluded.

Image via Sutton Images and XPB Images

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Michael Terminello

Journalist at MotorsportM8