Damon Hill has hit out at Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, accusing the reigning Formula 1 World Champion of merely 'plodding along' in the battle for 2008 title glory.

Though he previously tipped the Finn to successfully defend his hard-fought crown of 2007 [see separate story - click here], Britain's last F1 World Champion has criticised Raikkonen's lacklustre performances of late - with no victory now in a staggering eight races - and branded him the least impressive of the four championship contenders, even if he reflected that the 28-year-old's recent slump proves that he is fallible and not the ice-cool automaton some describe him as.

"Raikkonen seems to have been plodding along," the 47-year-old told British newspaper The Sun, "although there he is near the top of the table again.

"He has oodles of natural ability, but sometimes it looks like he is not completely 100 per cent committed. If I was a team owner and paying a lot for a driver, I'd want to know that the guy is giving the best he can.

"That's the good thing about this sport. The drivers are not robots; they are human beings, and it's down to them to tackle any given situation how they want."

Hill had warmer words, however, for Raikkonen's team-mate at Maranello, Felipe Massa - "He is on or off, but when he's on he's bloody good" - and admitted that were he to have his time in the top flight again, there is only one team for which he would wish to drive.

"Ferrari - just because it's Ferrari," the British Racing Drivers' Club President responded in a flash. "They really do have that mystique that other teams don't have.

"I didn't feel that way during my career, though, because at that time they were absolutely useless! I was happy to drive whatever was the best car, and I was happy it was a Williams."

On that subject, the 22-time grand prix winner acknowledged that he was 'very disappointed' to have witnessed the multiple championship-winning Grove-based outfit's seemingly relentless slide down the F1 grid in recent campaigns - with just 16 points on the board thus far in 2008, compared to 175 back when Hill lifted the laurels twelve years earlier

"Obviously I have a soft spot for them and they are having a hard time" he confessed. "It's very hard to stay at the top forever, and they are not aligned to a major manufacturer.

"This is something that is a fact of life in F1 now. With the resources you need, only major manufacturers can afford to keep pumping money in at that level."

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