Despite admitting that missing the podium by just one place wasn't his idea of a good race, Kimi Raikkonen insisted that fourth in the Japanese Grand Prix was still a solid result at a circuit where Ferrari was always playing second fiddle.

The Finn started sixth after what he described as a 'sh*t end result' to a qualifying session that promised so much more, but benefited from the start-line contact between Felipe Massa and Daniel Ricciardo to move up one spot in the early running and said he took a look at adding to Nico Rosberg's turn two woe after the Mercedes driver almost came together with team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

Having settled into fifth, however, Raikkonen was reminded of just how difficult it is to pass around the serpentine Suzuka circuit as he was unable to pass countryman Valtteri Bottas until pit-stop strategy came into play.

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"The race was fine but, obviously, you start behind people for certain times so then the race comes to trying to pass them one way or another," he explained, "We got stuck and then I was looking at fourth, which was more of less the best we could do from the position where we started."

Raikkonen revealed that, having been close to Ricciardo when he clipped Massa's Williams, his own race could have ended - or been compromised in the same way - at the first corner, before then presenting an opportunity at the second.

"I saw Ricciardo coming," he noted, "I had a good start I think, but he got a good jump and then I think he got stuck in the middle. I didn't see exactly what happened after that, honestly, but it was close.

"I almost tried to pass the second Williams but then it was a bit tight and there was a Mercedes. It all got a bit more... not messy, but it kept changing and, when I tried the Mercedes in one of the left-handers, I kind of went next to him but then he just sped up."

Having lost all of Friday's preparation time to rain, and then seen a potential second row start evaporate under the red flag that halted qualifying, Raikkonen was happy with the performance of his Ferrari, but conceded that, even running an alternative tyre strategy to most of the field, the Scuderia was unlikely to have challenged Mercedes on this occasion.

"I'd tried to challenge them at the beginning, but it was just not possible to get past them on the circuit, so I just tried to save tyres and push through," he said, "The feeling [with the car] was fine, and everything seemed to work well.

"We had really good pit-stops where we managed to jump the Williams and, while I think it's not ideal to finish fourth - third and fourth - obviously we knew that this wasn't going to be our strongest place and I think, looking at that point, we must be happy with being the second-best team [behind Mercedes].

"We tried the harder tyres in qualifying and they felt pretty good so, without a doubt, there was a feeling from both drivers that we felt that the hard tyres would be the correct choice for the race. The way it played out, all the work we did, I think we did the correct things and we did the maximum we could from the position where we started, so obviously it played out pretty well.

"[From here] we will keep doing the progress and going in the right direction, doing the right things. We just have to keep working and doing the same things and I'm sure we'll keep improving."