Kimi Raikkonen will head to next weekend's Formula One world championship showdown in positive mood, buoyed by his success in the Chinese Grand Prix.

The Finn admits that he had not expected to still be in with a shout of the crown at this stage of the season, particularly with Lewis Hamilton looking likely to take the title in China, but he insists that he intends to make the most of his 'reprieve'.

Raikkonen caught and passed Hamilton for the lead of the Shanghai race after the Briton ran into tyre problems, then slashed his points deficit when the McLaren driver slid into a gravel trap at mid-distance. Happy with the way his Ferrari is now performing, and with potential engine developments on tap for Interlagos, Raikkonen reckons that he can still contend for the crown.

"We're back in the fight," he smiled, "After the 2003 championship finale, when I went to Suzuka nine points behind Michael [Schumacher], this is the second time that I will fight for it at the last race. This time, I'm seven points behind Hamilton and three behind Alonso, but anything can happen in the race."

Admitting that there were 'more possibilities to pick up on Alonso', the Finn - who has more race wins than either McLaren driver and therefore stands to benefit in any tie-break - says there is no reason why he can't uphold his end of the bargain by winning a week on Sunday.

"I was really happy [in China] on Sunday night," he revealed, "We couldn't get the maximum in China and Japan, but we showed that we were able to win both of the races, which was very important in view of the race in Brazil.

"The [championship] situation seemed to be compromised after Fuji but, in Shanghai, we managed to put things straight. Now we have new hope to win the title and it's good to know that we can go to Sao Paulo and try our luck. It would have been better if Alonso had also not made it [to the finish], but Hamilton's retirement - his first this season - was very important.

"Since the race at the N?rburgring, when I had to stop with a hydraulic problem, that haven't been in control of the championship, so we have to go on working the way we have at the last two races. We have to give our best to try to get another 1-2. We have the possibility, as you can see, but, if we manage to do the same at Interlagos, everything depends on what our competitors can do."

 

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