x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Raikkonen is not giving up

Kimi Raikkonen refuses to give up on his dream of back-to-back Formula One world titles.

Kimi Raikkonen leads his Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa during Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix.
Kimi Raikkonen leads his Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa during Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix.

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS // Kimi Raikkonen is refusing to give up on his dream of back-to-back Formula One world titles. The Ferrari driver saw his hopes of a fourth successive Belgian Grand Prix victory end with a smash into a wall at the Spa circuit on the penultimate lap. Instead, Raikkonen's winless streak now stretches to nine races to leave him trailing championship leader Lewis Hamilton by 19 points.

Raikkonen said of his receding title chances: "Clearly the championship situation is what it is, but I'm not the sort to give up that easily." However, it could have been far worse for Raikkonen as Hamilton was denied the victory by stewards, who handed him a 25-second drive-through penalty two hours after the race had finished. They claimed Hamilton had gained an advantage in cutting the final chicane at the end of lap 42 of the 44-lap clash, so passing Raikkonen, even though he swiftly handed the lead back to the Finn.

"I came here to win and I came close," said Raikkonen. "In the final laps the track conditions were very critical. Unfortunately I ran wide, and when I tried to get back on track, I spun and ended up in the wall, which was a shame. "The arrival of the rain did not help. In such conditions, if you are in front you have to be more cautious as you don't know how much grip you'll find in each braking area.

"That's how Hamilton managed to close on me, and then you all saw what happened." After suffering a blown engine in the European Grand Prix in Valencia a fortnight ago, Raikkonen added: "It is the second race in a row I've failed to score points." While it ultimately proved to be a scoreless day in the end for the Finn, he could take some consolation for a strong return to form after a disappointing middle part of the season.

For the first time in three races he had the measure of his teammate Felipe Massa, and he had the race won until the late rain shower arrived. He can also take encouragement from how he won his world championship last year. With five races remaining last season Raikkonen trailed in the standings by 16 points. But he won three of those events, and picked up 42 points from an available 50 to take the title in Brazil.

He will need something similar this year to repeat the feat. * PA Sport