Though Kimi Raikkonen may continue to insist he is still in with a shout of defending his Formula 1 World Drivers' Championship, Ferrari has suggested that the time is now fast approaching when the Finn will have to slot into a supporting role to team-mate Felipe Massa's bid for glory.

Raikkonen slipped further adrift of the top of the leaderboard following yet another lacklustre performance in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza at the weekend, trailing home out of the points in ninth, ten seconds behind title pace-setters Massa and Lewis Hamilton.

Though the 28-year-old set fastest lap in the closing stages - incredibly his ninth of the 2008 F1 campaign from 14 races - the Maranello-based outfit's team principal Stefano Domenicali has seemed to hint that, much like his challenge for the crown, by that point it was all rather too little, too late. Raikkonen now lies 20 points behind Massa and 21 shy of Hamilton, with 40 left up for grabs.

"I've always said that our main interest is the team," Domenicali underlined. "Of course, that's the most important thing - and the drivers know it.

"From now up to the end of the season, in the way that it's possible to do, of course Kimi will do his best to be as aggressive as possible - but also consider the fact that Felipe is much closer to the championship leader, Lewis."

Domenicali went on to explain that the reason for Ferrari's poor pace on home turf in front of the adoring tifosi was down to an inability to get the F2008 to work well with its Bridgestone tyres in wet conditions - a bugbear that has plagued the Scuderia season-long.

"The main problem for us was that our tyres were really not working," the Italian confessed. "We were not able to get them up to the right temperature to generate the grip and be fast. We saw that, for example, at the end when the conditions were different, Kimi was able to go quicker and quicker and quicker. He said it was as though he had another car.

"For sure Hamilton drove a very good race, a fantastic race. He was very, very fast and above all very, very consistent, but in rainy conditions you have not only the technical side to control; you may have different situations that you have to handle.

"For sure it's not really the atmosphere we like to race in, with rain and cold, but we cannot do anything about that so the only thing we have to do is work very hard and see what we can do to improve our situation in these conditions."

Raikkonen, meanwhile - though he may now not have triumphed in a grand prix since Barcelona all the way back in April - is adamant that he lives to fight for another day, perhaps encouraged by having famously overturned a 17-point deficit to Hamilton in the final two races of 2007 to pinch the laurels at the last by a single marker in Brazil.

"I don't know," the 17-time grand prix-winner stressed, when asked about the likelihood of him having to support Massa henceforth. "We will see what happens.

"I'm not really interested in thinking what we are going to do in the next races. [The situation] is not good, but we'll keep trying and hoping to do better in the next races."


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