Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has vowed to 'fight tooth-and-nail' to secure third place in the constructors' championship after Kimi Raikkonen picked up valuable points in the 2009 Japanese Grand Prix at the weekend.
The 2007 F1 World Champion missed out on a rostrum finish at Suzuka after failing to make the most of his KERS power boost at the start – and subsequently expressed his frustration and disappointment at the outcome of the race, whilst issuing a word of warning about his team's chances in the last two outings of the season in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
“The car wasn't bad, but it was not quick enough to fight for the podium,” the Finn lamented. “This fourth place is useful in terms of keeping the team in third place in the constructors' championship, but it will be hard to hang onto it over the final two races. I will definitely do everything I can, though.
“I was unable to make up places at the start, especially as the first corner is not that far from the start-line, so I was unable to make the most of the KERS. In the first stint, when I was on hard tyres, the situation was a bit difficult but then, once on the softs, things improved considerably. I managed to close on [Nick] Heidfeld and pass him in the pit-stops, even though, coming away from my stop, I found myself in traffic behind [Jenson] Button. Then there was not much to fight for to the end of the race.”
Domenicali, however, heaped praise upon the man who will find himself replaced by fellow former title-winner Fernando Alonso at Maranello in 2010 – even if the Scuderia
ceded another point in the duel over third place in the standings to arch-rivals McLaren-Mercedes, for whom reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton took the chequered flag 1.5 seconds ahead in third to close the gap to just two markers with 36 points remaining up for grabs before season's end.
“All things considered, this is a positive result,” mused the Italian. “I don't think we could have done any more than this fourth place. We got the most out of the F60 as it stands and, thanks to yet another great drive from Kimi, we also managed to stay third in the constructors' classification.
“The team worked well and we must continue to do so for the final two races left to run in this strange season, fighting tooth-and-nail to reach the target we set ourselves from mid-season onwards.”
“After the disappointment of Singapore, it's nice to see Kimi again finish a race in a good position,” concurred Ferrari chief race engineer Chris Dyer, who acknowledged that the team might have done things differently in Japan. “With hindsight, there's some disappointment with a result that could have been even better.
“We opted to start on the hard tyres on Kimi's car, because we weren't entirely sure about how the soft ones would work over a distance. In fact, their performance stayed consistent, as we saw in the second part of the race, when both of our drivers were very competitive.