Raikkonen buoyed by improved Ferrari atmosphere

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Kimi Raikkonen has hailed the positive atmosphere that reigns at Ferrari ahead of this weekend's season-opening Australian Grand Prix (March 13-15).

A two-time winner around the Albert Park Circuit, the Finn returned to Maranello last year only to endure his toughest F1 campaign to date with fourth place at Spa his best result in 2014.

Raikkonen’s lacklustre performances came amidst a season of broader turmoil for Ferrari since the Scuderia could only claim a pair of podium finishes and did not secure any race win for the first time since 1993.

The Italian squad consequently underwent a major reshuffle with team principal Stefano Domenicali, long-time president Luca di Montezemolo, and Fernando Alonso all leaving the Prancing Horse. After its new team boss Maurizio Arrivabene set a modest two-win target for 2015, Ferrari has quietly grown into one of the closest challengers to Mercedes over pre-season testing.

“I’ve known the team for a few years now, but I have to say, this year the atmosphere is very good, the people are happy and are working together in a very close-knit way,” said Raikkonen.

“I think that compared with last year, we have done a great job as a team. We are pleased with what we achieved over the winter and with the level of competitiveness that we expect to have reached, even if we will have to wait until we’re on track to get the real verdict.”

Raikkonen and new team-mate Sebastian Vettel will take to the Albert Park Circuit in their SF15-Ts for the first time this Friday when the opening free practice session gets underway Down Under at 12:30pm, local time.

Click here for the latest technical upgrades before Melbourne in pictures

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