Kimi Raikkonen has attempted to defuse rumours about his future as an F1 driver by claiming that he is driving – and motivated – as well as he has ever been in his lengthy top flight career.
Despite finishing on the podium, and drawing level with Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel in the championship, after last Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix, Raikkonen can't shake speculation that he could be on the verge of being dropped, with Force India's Sergio Perez leading a list of potential replacements for 2017.
Raikkonen is no stranger to this position, having seemingly been under threat in previous seasons before inking a new deal, and told reporters at Silverstone that he would be the first to recognise if he was either performing below par or no longer had the enthusiasm to continue in the cockpit.
"I feel I drive as well as I've ever driven,” he insisted, "If I didn't feel like I was driving well, I'd be the first one to go away and not do it, but it's not that.
"People are happy to look at the results and say they are not good enough, but it doesn't always mean, if you have a bad result, that you are not 100 per cent giving your best or [are not] motivated or something. It's not so simple. I would not be here if I did not enjoy it, if I did not feel like I can drive, if I did not feel like I can do it 100 per cent. That hasn't changed - if I wouldn't be motivated, I would not be here wasting my own time or the team's time.”
The Finn admitted that he would 'obviously enjoy it more when the results are better', but was quick to point out that an upturn in success was not solely down to the driver's performance or motivation.
“It really doesn't mean that you only drive better than you drove before,” he confirmed, “It's just that the whole package is better around you, that we've done a better job as a team, improving the package.”
The podium in Austria was Raikkonen's fourth of the season, leaving him one behind his team-mate but level on points following Vettel's DNF at the Red Bull Ring, but the Finn insists that there is only so much enjoyment to be derived from standing a step or two below the winner.
“Obviously, everybody sees things differently, and I have had some pretty good races, some not so good races, some [where problems] were not to do with me and some, like in Monaco, that were my mistake. It's been a bit up and down – mostly, I think we've done pretty okay, but I'm not satisfied when I finish third or second. We are here to try to win and I think it is the same goal for the team. Until that happens, it's painful.”
The 2016 British Grand Prix is set to be Raikkonen's 100th race for Ferrari and, should he be eased out of the line-up next season, the Finn insists that he would not consider turning out for anyone else on the grid.
“100 races doesn't sound like a lot, but it's a lot of years,” he noted, “[Ferrari] is the best team in F1, in my view. We've had some good years, some difficult years, but to be part of a company like Ferrari doesn't happen to everybody. I'm very happy to be part of Ferrari and, hopefully, for the future also.
“I said, nearly ten years ago now, that my last team would be Ferrari and I still think like that. What happens in the future, I don't know, but I don't usually make plans for very long into the future, so who knows? Things change very quickly in life.”