Kimi Raikkonen claims third place was a result he could be pleased with after seeing his hopes of victory in Japanese Grand Prix dashed in the opening laps by a mistake of tyre choice.

Dropping 17 points behind championship leader Lewis Hamilton with only 20 points remaining in the season, Raikkonen accepts now that winning his first title is harder than ever, even if he insists he is not giving up yet.

In the meantime, Raikkonen can revel in his podium at Fuji in awful weather conditions that saw the race started behind the safety car and forced all the drivers to use extreme wet tyres.

However, Ferrari claim an e-mail outlining the tyre decision was received late [see separate story], meaning the team had to call both Raikkonen and Felipe Massa into the pit lane to change their less treaded wet rubber.

It was a mistake that left the Finn at the back of the field, albeit heavily fuelled, and although he came in one more time in the latter stages of the race, he was able to pick off a few places as those ahead came into the pit lane.

Finding himself in fifth place, an impressive move on David Coulthard promoted him to fourth, a position that would become third when Massa pitted in the latter stages. Raikkonen would stay in that position to the chequered flag after placing Heikki Kovalainen under immense pressure in the final laps, a result he was otherwise content with.

"We raced with virtually zero visibility. The hardest thing to work out was where the other drivers were and what they were doing. My race was ruined by the enforced pit stop on lap three. We had chosen to start on standard rain tyres but we will never know now if this decision would have paid off.

"Once I was back at the pack we tried our best to move back up. All in all, third place is not a result to complain about. I did a lot of overtaking always in very difficult conditions. Our set up might have been more competitive in the dry, but all the same the car was very quick and I certainly didn't lose any time because of this choice.

"Clearly the situation in the championship is now much more difficult, but I will still give it my all right to the end of the season as usual."

 

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