Kimi Raikkonen may not have won a race this season, but remaining in the hunt for a second world championship gives the Finn reason to class his return to F1 as a success.
Having departed in high dudgeon at the end of 2009, when he was eased out of Ferrari
to make room for Fernando Alonso, Raikkonen appeared to throw his lot in with rallying but, having spent two largely underwhelming years in the WRC, appeared back on the F1 radar towards the end of 2011, before eventually signing with Lotus to spearhead an all-new line-up alongside GP2 Series champion Romain Grosjean. Both drivers have come close to winning races, with Grosjean coming home second in Canada and Raikkonen likewise in Bahrain, Valencia and Hungary but, so far, victory has proven elusive for the Enstone squad.
"We've had a chance, [but] it's different to 2007," he said on the eve of his first Indian Grand Prix, "We had a car that you knew that could win all the races and, right now, we are not the fastest car, so we need more help to really win. But we will keep trying and, hopefully, we can achieve it. We will try until there's no chance, but it's a bit different situation. But if we can improve the car in the next three races, you never know, so..."
The 2007 season, of course, was the high point of Raikkonen's F1 career as, under the old scoring regime, he overcame a 17-point deficit with two races remaining to beat McLaren
duo Fernando Alonso
and Lewis Hamilton
to the world title. While naturally wary of expecting a repeat this time around, the Finn still regards his return as one he can be proud of.
"Yes, I'm happy," he claimed, "If you had told me before the season that I would be in this position, with this many points and stuff like that, I would have taken it - but, of course, when you do some good races, you always want more and more, and then you're disappointed if you're not [getting better results]. It could have been better, but it could have been much more worse also."
As the points table shows, signing with the team he was initially linked to last season would not have yielded the same sort of return, as Williams
currently trails Lotus by nearly 200 points, and Raikkonen acknowledges the job that has been done at Enstone this year, even if the final performance has not been able to match the likes of Red Bull, McLaren
on a regular basis.
"I think, at Spa, we had some signs [that we were dropping away] but, then, we have seen this year that one race you can be very strong and the next not so good," he reflected, "It's been up and down between the teams [but], for some reason, after the summer break, some of the teams have been much more consistent. I think we still have a good car, [and] we improved it again at the last race, but we are not at the level that we maybe were compared to others at the beginning of the season."