Kimi Raikkonen has admitted that he is now out of the race for the 2012 F1 title despite still having a mathematical chance of lifting the crown.
The Finn sits third in the standings despite the fact he has yet to win a race this season, with six podium finishes and points in every race bar one instead keeping him in contention.
A seventh place finish in India last weekend – the first time Raikkonen has finished outside the top six since the Canadian Grand Prix back in June – means he is now 67 points away from top spot with just 75 remaining, and the 2007 title winner admitted the result had ended his title challenge.
“I had a very good car there, but I just couldn't do anything with it as I was not able to pass on the straight,” the Lotus man said of the Indian race. “It was quite disappointing but that's how it goes. We put ourselves in that position on Saturday with the set-up we chose for qualifying and we paid the price. We had the speed but not in the right place and when you are behind someone there's not much you can do.
“I really thought we had a car that meant we could fight for a podium as our lap times were good, but the mistake we made on Saturday took all the chances out. The drivers' championship battle is pretty much gone for me I think, but hopefully in the next race we can have the speed to be able to take more championship points.”
Despite being away from F1 for two seasons, Raikkonen does have prior experience of competing in Abu Dhabi, with the final race prior to his departure from Ferrari back in 2009 coming at Yas Marina.
Having failed to score in that event, Raikkonen will hope for more luck this time around and he said he was confident of a strong run in the evening race.
“So far I have done only one race in Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi,” he said. “It was my last race with Ferrari and of course my last before I moved to rallying. That was a boring race, I can tell you! I finished the race back in twelfth position and there was nothing I could do during the race. I'm looking forward to improving on my record at the track and I'm sure it should be a more interesting race for me this time round!
“Hopefully we can be a bit smarter than in India] and use our race speed to take some more championship points. The car is good, and if we manage to qualify higher, then I think we would be in a good position to be able to take the most from the next few races.”