Kimi Raikkonen has lent further ammunition to those who claim he has lost his motivation for the fight in the 2008 Formula 1 World Championship in recent weeks, by revealing that he found his Hungarian Grand Prix today 'frustrating and boring'.
The defending F1 World Champion has now gone a full seven races since his last victory – his longest dry spell since the end of the 2006 campaign – and looked lacklustre at best for much of the weekend in Budapest.
After qualifying a lowly sixth to Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa's third, he then spent the first two-thirds of the race tucked up behind Fernando Alonso's Renault, in stark contrast to the Brazilian who not only took the fight to – but indeed got the better of – both front row-sitting McLaren-Mercedes'.
Raikkonen only seemed to come alive once he had leapfrogged Alonso during the second round of pit-stops, going on to set fastest lap of the race after fastest lap as he chased down Timo Glock to take what would turn out to be – somewhat fortuitously, in the wake of Massa's unfortunate late-race retirement – a podium position.
“I am sorry for Felipe and for the team,” the 28-year-old reflected afterwards, “as it is horrible to lose a race in this way. It was tough for me because, when you spend a long time behind a slower car, it becomes frustrating and boring. When I was finally able to push, the car was behaving very well, but by then it was too late.
“I came up behind Glock, but in the end I had to slow as I had a mechanical problem with the rear end and the team told me to be very careful to ensure I brought the car home.
“It's true that I'm the one who has won the most points out of the top three in the classification, which shows this championship is really unpredictable, with ups and downs for everyone. It was a disappointing weekend for me, but at least I managed to come away with a decent result.
“We must try and fix the problems we have in qualifying to start at the front, so as to exploit the potential of the car. If we can do that, then we can get back to fighting for the win.”
Both the Scuderia's
team principal Stefano Domenicali and technical director Luca Baldisserri similarly pointed the finger of blame for Raikkonen's struggles at his qualifying showing – with the 17-time grand prix winner having generally failed to shine on Saturday afternoons in 2008, trailing Massa seven-four over the first eleven races of the season, with an average starting position of 4.3 to the Brazilian's 3.0 and two poles to his team-mates three.
“Kimi's race was compromised by his poor qualifying result yesterday,” admitted Domenicali. “When you start further back, it's hard to climb up the order. He was stuck behind Alonso for much of the race but, when he finally had a clear track ahead of him, he showed all his and the F2008's potential.”
“Kimi was behind Alonso for two-thirds of the race,” added Baldisserri, “and only when he had a free track ahead of him was he able to show what he can do.”