Kimi Raikkonen has acknowledged that he can – and must – do better than he has done in recent races if he is to remain in with a shot of this year's Formula 1 Drivers' World Championship laurels – a target the Finn is adamant is still within reach.
The reigning F1 World Champion has appeared only a pale imitation of his former self for much of 2008, languishing most notably in qualifying – with a three-nil deficit to Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa over the last three races and eight-four over the season as a whole – but also, latterly, in the races too, with no victory now since Barcelona all the way back in April, and just three podium finishes from the interceding eight grands prix.
Having trailed Massa once again throughout the European Grand Prix weekend around Valencia's all-new Juan Carlos I Marina circuit, indifferently battling against a Toyota and Scuderia Toro Rosso until his engine blew late on whilst the sister F2008 scampered on to an unrivalled triumph, Raikkonen knows it is high time to change things around – or else be cast into a supporting role to his team-mate and kiss the defence of his hard-fought crown goodbye.
“I think I can do better than that so I am trying to improve,” he admitted, quoted by international news agency Reuters
. “I am sure I can still improve my qualifying and my results. There is still a long way to go, so let's wait and see what happens.
“Sure, it was definitely not the weekend I was hoping for, but these things happen in racing and it is not the first time. I am not too worried. I do not believe that – despite this negative result – I am now out of the running for the title.
“There are still six races to go and 60 points up for grabs. We have seen that the situation can change really quickly, even if I realise things are now more complicated. We are in a bit of a worse situation in the championship, but if we get all the things sorted then I think we still have a chance to come back.
“We know what the issues have been, but unfortunately we haven't been able to sort them out. Hopefully now in the next test we can work a bit and try to find the solution for it. If we get qualifying right it will help a lot.”
The Finn has registered just 28 points since his last success in Barcelona, compared to 46, 50 and 36 for title rivals Massa, Lewis Hamilton and Robert Kubica respectively. Amongst the 'issues' that have held him back – aside from his qualifying woes – has been reliability, with an engine failure sidelining him with 13 laps left to run in Valencia, after his race had already been compromised by a pit-lane error during his second stop that left a Ferrari mechanic requiring medical attention.
“I lost a place at the start and I was stuck in traffic for all of the first stint,” he related of his race. “Then, when I had a clear track ahead of me, I was able to push and was doing good lap times. At the second pit-stop, I made a mistake and left before I should have done.