Kimi Raikkonen admits that, although Ferrari's performance has improved over last season, his own results have yet to match up to his expectations.
While new team-mate Sebastian Vettel has managed to break the Mercedes domination and stand atop the podium on three occasions in 2015, the Finn's best result remains the second place he took back in Bahrain, with just one other podium – in Singapore – to show for his efforts. Despite that, a quartet of fourth places have helped him into fifth in the overall standings, where he remains locked in battle with fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas.
“In many ways, this season went a lot better, but the results aren't yet what I want, for many different reasons,” Raikkonen sighed, “As a team, we've been much stronger compared to last year, when we were struggling with lack of speed. This year, the speed is pretty okay, but the results are still not there, where I want them to be.
“It's painful sometimes, but that's how it is in F1. You make a mistake and you pay the price – it's fair enough. I've been in this position before and I'm sure we can keep going in the right direction. Obviously we need to get better results, it's as simple as that. A lot of things have changed since [winning the world title for Ferrari in] 2007, but I feel the team is up there and we have all the tools to run at the front. This year hasn't been ideal for me but we're heading in the right direction, so let's see what we can do next year.”
The championship battle with Bottas has been brought into sharper focus by two on-track clashes between the pair in recent races, with a penalised Raikkonen coming off better in Russia and Bottas in Mexico last time out. The senior Finn, however, remains nonplussed by the attention the incidents have attracted.
“We had contact and I lost a wheel, you've probably seen it as well,” he said of his Mexican DNF, “These things happen but, unfortunately, it's happened between us a few times. You guys try to make a big deal out of it, but it's racing. Obviously, being from the same country, people may think we have a big fight going on, but it was just an unfortunate thing. I'm sure that, in the long run, it will sort itself out.”
Asked how important it was for him to establish himself as the number one Finn in F1, Raikkonen gave another typical answer, underlining how important it is for him to rediscover his mojo.
“It doesn't change my life,” he said of the struggle with Bottas, who currently holds the championship upper hand by a scant three points, “I try to achieve the best result, but we're talking about fourth or fifth place in the championship. The first place counts, the rest... it's nice to be as high up as possible, but nobody remembers if you finish fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh..”