Kimi Raikkonen has confessed that he struggled to maintain his motivation during the 2008 Formula 1 season – one that saw him not so much concede his crown as practically throw it away.
The Finn endured an increasingly miserable campaign in the top flight this year, triumphing just twice – both in the first four outings – and going four races mid-season without so much as a single point to his name, let alone a podium or anything more.
What's more, he was fairly trounced in qualifying twelve-six by team-mate Felipe Massa – a man he had generally had the beating of in 2007 – and on some days looked as though he would simply rather not have been there, prompting the Scuderia's
president Luca di Montezemolo to recently quip that 'a double' had taken Raikkonen's place [see separate story – click here
With the new Bridgestone Potenza tyres seeming to suit Massa's driving style far more than they did the defending world champion, Raikkonen slipped quietly out of the title fight after finishing third in the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji – ironically one of his better showings of the year.
The man himself, though, admitted that he had considered his chances gone in the wake of crashing away a sure second place and potential victory in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps in early September – and acknowledged that with little or no hope of glory left, it had been difficult to keep the desire burning.
“That is the way it is,” the 29-year-old told Finnish broadcaster MTV3
, reflecting on a season during which his form was so poor on occasion that many in the paddock had begun to question whether he would even return in 2009 to try again.
“If you know you are fighting only for third place then you maybe don't have the same speed for the whole race as normal. If you have no chance to overtake or improve your position, it is definitely not very interesting.
“When you are driving for the title, naturally things are completely different.”
The 17-time grand prix winner did seem to return to his old self somewhat more in the latter stages of the campaign, however, and amidst all the criticism he found a voice of support in the shape of Ferrari spokesman Luca Colajanni.
“Even when he was in a bad mood, he always behaved professionally,” the Italian underlined.