Kimi Raikkonen has warned Ferrari that they need to start winning again – and fast – if he is to have any chance at all of retaining his hard-fought F1 World Drivers' Championship crown come season's end.
has endured a torrid middle part of the 2008 campaign, triumphing just once to McLaren-Mercedes' three victories from the past five races, as the Silver Arrows have stolen a significant march over their scarlet competitors.
What's more, McLaren's current superiority has enabled Lewis Hamilton to vault past both Raikkonen and team-mate Felipe Massa to the top of the title standings, and with the Briton beginning this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix from pole position – his fourth of the year – he looks well-placed to extend the four-point advantage he holds over Massa and seven over Raikkonen yet further.
“McLaren have been very fast in the last few races and we haven't been doing so well,” admitted the Finn – who has now gone a whole six grands prix without winning – speaking to British newspaper The Sun
. “There are many races still to go, but it won't be easy to catch up – especially if we don't start winning.”
“I made a mistake on my final flying lap which cost me precious time,” he added, turning his attentions back to qualifying in Budapest, “and that followed on from not having got a great lap on my previous attempt, which explains why I'm sixth. Of course I am not happy and, starting from the third row, my race will be an uphill struggle.
“I will try and make the most of this situation, given that the car today was not that bad. We are going through a bit of a difficult time, but we mustn't give up – all we need to do is put together all the pieces of the jigsaw and then the results will come to us again.”
Whilst Raikkonen will have to begin the race around a circuit on which it is notoriously difficult to overtake from the dirty side of the grid back on row three, Massa fared somewhat better in placing third – and afterwards the Brazilian insisted Ferrari still had a good chance of turning the tables on their Woking rivals on race day.
“It's a shame I didn't manage to get the best out of the car in Q3, mainly because of traffic, especially on my second run,” rued the 27-year-old, who missed out on a front row slot by just five hundredths of a second.
“In the first two parts of qualifying the car felt good, as can be seen from my times, but then I never managed to prepare the tyres in the best way. Clearly, overtaking isn't easy, but we have good pace and I will try and exploit that in fighting with the two drivers ahead of me on the grid.”