Kimi Raikkonen has admitted that the prospect of breaking his own record for the greatest number of fastest laps set during a Formula 1 season [see separate story – click here
] is worthless – as he reflects on what he acknowledges has been 'definitely not my year'.
The defending Formula 1 World Champion – who looks sure to lose his crown over the final three races of the campaign – has displayed abject form on occasion during 2008, triumphing just twice in 15 outings, with his last victory having come in the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona all the way back in April.
What's more, he has found himself invariably out-raced by title-challenging Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa, and out-qualified by the Brazilian eleven-four, including on every occasion since Hockenheim in July.
Crashing out of fifth place in the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix night race last weekend with just four laps to go marked Raikkonen's fourth consecutive failure to score, and he now looks likely to be shut irreversibly out of the battle for glory at Fuji in Japan in a week's time, sitting as he does 27 points adrift of the championship lead – with only 30 remaining to play for.
“It's difficult to find the right words,” the Finn mused. “Racing at night or during the day, this is definitely not my year.
“[In Singapore] I hit the wall when there were just a couple of laps left. True, I wasn't racing for the win, but for some very important points for the team – and then it ended like at Spa, with another DNF.
“It seems as if the more we try to improve the situation the less we get in the end. At this point I can just hope for a weekend where everything goes in the right direction.”
Raikkonen grappled with set-up issues and steering wheel problems during practice in the Far Eastern city-state – costing him what he affirmed was 'a lot of precious time' in the run-up to qualifying – and subsequently struggled to get into a rhythm in the early stages of the grand prix due to low tyre pressures.
Then, after picking up pace and closing the gap on the second-placed McLaren-Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, the 28-year-old's challenge for the rostrum was torpedoed when the safety car was deployed for Nelsinho Piquet's accident in the Renault, and he had to queue up behind Massa during the Scuderia's