Raikkonen happy after positive day's practice

Fri Mar 28, 2014 7:46am EDT
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By Patrick Johnston

SEPANG, Malaysia (Reuters) - Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was in a surprisingly positive mood after modifications to his car helped him keep pace with favorites Mercedes during Friday's practice at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

The Finn was second in both 90-minute sessions at the steamy Sepang circuit behind Lewis Hamilton and then Nico Rosberg to give him hope of being more competitive in Sunday's race after a disappointing start in Melbourne a fortnight ago.

The 2007 world champion was hit on the first corner in Australia by Kamui Kobayashi's Caterham en route to finishing seventh, almost a minute behind race winner Rosberg.

Raikkonen was 0.035 seconds behind the German in Friday's afternoon session, where he managed to better the times set by Hamilton, world champion Sebastian Vettel and his team mate Fernando Alonso.

"This was definitely a positive day and I had a better feeling compared to Friday in Melbourne," the Finn told reporters.

"I was more comfortable with the F14 today and even if we had no problems whatsoever, we know there's still a long way to go and a lot to do.

"Our programme concentrated on car set-up and on testing the compounds that Pirelli has brought here. The handling seemed to be good."

Raikkonen had dismissed suggestions that his struggles at the Albert Park race were caused by a braking issue.   Continued...

Ferrari Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland walks at Sepang International Circuit outside Kuala Lumpur after the first practice session of the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix, March 28, 2014. REUTERS/Samsul Said