Kimi Raikkonen could not hide his disappointment after being forced to retire from a European Grand Prix he was convinced he could win and has urged Ferrari to improve their reliability record.

Heading into the race well placed to score his third straight victory of the season, Raikkonen got the start he needed to lead around the first lap but with rain falling heavily he dived into the pit lane at the first time of asking.

However, the Finn misjudged the amount of grip on the pit lane entry and slid back onto the circuit, forcing him to tip-toe his way around another lap before he could take on more appropriate rubber as conditions more akin to a monsoon deluged the circuit.

In the end, more pit stops for extreme tyres allowed Raikkonen back into contention before the race was eventually halted until the weather subsided.

On a drying track, Raikkonen showed the kind of speed that he had been expected to produce from the front of the field and having disposed of Renault's Heikki Kovalainen and both Red Bulls, set about catching and piling the pressure on second placed Fernando Alonso.

However, intermittent hydraulic problems soon began to make their presence felt, causing the Ferrari's engine to cut out occasionally. Although he soldiered on Raikkonen's Ferrari eventually cried enough on lap 34 and forced him into retirement.

It was a bitter defeat for Raikkonen, particularly as he had dominated for much of the weekend leading up to the race and was confident of eventually prevailing by the chequered flag despite his early delay.

"I am very disappointed. I was in a good position, immediately right behind Felipe and Alonso and the car was very quick and I was convinced I could win. But gradually, the hydraulic system began to malfunction, I began to lose time and then I was forced to stop.

Nonetheless, Raikkonen has vowed to keep on pushing, pointing out the gap between himself and championship leader Lewis Hamilton remains the same as it was when he started the weekend. Even so, Raikkonen has also urged the team to improve their reliability.

"This knock back does not mean I feel like giving up the fight, even if there is now one less race in which to compete. The gap to the head of the classification remains the same and anything can happen in the seven remaining races. We have a very competitive car but clearly we have to improve on the reliability front."

 

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