Having all-but kissed goodbye to his hopes of retaining his Formula 1 World Drivers' Championship crown by crashing out of the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix night race this weekend with three laps left to run, Kimi Raikkonen has apologised to Ferrari for costing the squad the lead in the constructors' standings too.
On what the Scuderia's
team principal Stefano Domenicali termed 'a black day' for the Prancing Horse [see separate story – click here
], Raikkonen found himself delayed by team-mate Felipe Massa's pit-stop catastrophe after an opening phase of the race in which he had threatened to relieve the Brazilian's chief title rival Lewis Hamilton of second place.
Rejoining the fray down in 15th position, however, Raikkonen had successfully battled his way back to fifth when a second safety car period ten laps from home closed the pack right up again and brought the Finn within range of Timo Glock in fourth place.
In trying to put pressure on the Toyota, however, it was the reigning world champion who got it wrong, losing control of his F2008 over one of the Marina Bay Street Circuit's harsh, unforgiving kerbs and planting his car firmly in the tyre barriers. His fourth successive failure to score this year means the 17-time grand prix-winner travels to the final three races of the campaign now some 27 points shy of the championship lead, and to all intents and purposes out of the equation.
“I was trying to attack Glock in case he might make a mistake,” the 28-year-old explained, “but I went slightly wide at the chicane, jumping over the kerb. When the car landed, I lost control and ended up in the barriers.
“My situation in the championship was already rather compromised, so this doesn't really make that much difference, but I am unhappy because the team has lost precious points in the constructors' classification.
“In the opening laps the car was a bit difficult, but then it improved a lot, to such an extent that I was able to close right up to Hamilton. When the safety car came out, I knew my race was compromised given that I had to pit behind Felipe.
“I was able to get back up to fifth, but then the incident I described earlier happened. Clearly, morale is not high today, but I am not used to giving up and will do my very best to try and help the team reach its targets.”
Whilst those views were shared post-race by both Domenicali and also Ferrari technical director Luca Baldisserri, the entire team now knows that – fastest car at its disposal or not – it is on the back foot and up against it as the tense title showdown with arch-rival McLaren-Mercedes closes inexorably in.