Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen.
Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen. TRACEY NEARMY

Raikkonen admits grand prix winner is hard to predict

TWO-time race winner winner Kimi Raikkonen says rule changes, faster cars, new tyres and driver swaps - as well as potentially fickle weather - make it impossible to forecast the result of Sunday's Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park.

"It's not an easy way to start the year. Melbourne is a funny place," Ferrari star Raikkonen said.

"We've seen a lot of different races here. The conditions can be very tricky. Lately it hasn't been very sunny over the weekend and has mixed up a lot of things. And the circuit is not a normal race circuit.

"We don't know if we are at the front or not. We have seen a lot of different races and winners.

"Whatever happens this weekend I couldn't say it would be a straight comparison where everyone is for the season."

Raikkonen and his teammate Sebastian Vettel have been consistently pacy during pre-season testing and are considered among the most-likely challengers to Mercedes and three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.

But "Iceman" Raikkonen does not want to promise the many Ferrari fans more than can be delivered.

"It's a good welcome for us here always," he said. "Hopefully we can give them something.

"We want to put Ferrari in the fight and on top in the end. But there is no way to know yet. We have to first start the season and hopefully see if we are at the front.

"It's still very early days yet and we have still only one (Spanish) circuit for testing and quite winter conditions. It's always very interesting times of the year. But let's see."

Through the uncertainty, Raikkonen is definitely a fan of the faster new-generation cars that have bigger wings and wider Pirelli tyres to potentially improve the spectacle and racing in F1.

"I think many of the drivers are happy because we can go more faster," he said. "They are very nice cars to drive. I have a good feeling and we go from there."