x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Raikkonen not expecting much

Kimi Raikkonen has already ruled out any hope of winning Sunday's German Grand Prix, believing he will be lucky just to finish on the podium.

Kimi Raikkonen has already ruled out any hope of winning Sunday's German Grand Prix, believing he will be lucky just to finish on the podium. Forget the fact Germany is far from a lucky venue for the Ferrari driver, who has qualified on pole twice at the Nurburgring, but has never won there. His best result there is a podium in 2002 for McLaren, and in 2003 and 2005 he retired when leading the race - the latter being agonisingly on the last lap when he suffered a tyre failure.

But quite simply the 2007 world champion knows that despite improvements of late, the scarlet machines still lack the speed of the front-running Brawn GPs and Red Bulls. The Finn might have taken third in Monaco, whilst teammate Felipe Massa has finished fourth in two of the last three races, but this is proving to be a year of collecting whatever scraps Ferrari can find. They have scored only 26 points from the opening eight races of the season, with Raikkonen's disappointing total of 10 putting him 54 points behind the championship leader Jenson Button.

"Realistically, this year in Germany our objective can't be a win," he said. "We still have to make up ground compared to the leaders as far as the performance is concerned. "That's why the team continued to work very hard over the last few weeks to bring some new solutions for this race. "The Nurburgring track should be better for the characteristics of the car than Silverstone, but we'll get a clearer picture during tomorrow's free practice sessions.

"It's always difficult making predictions and promising something to the fans, but for us today a place on the podium is already a good result, considering that we've been there just once this year. "There are still nine races until the end of this extremely difficult season for us. "Our objective has to be to give it our all race after race, without thinking that the leaders are so many points ahead of us.

"I really trust the team’s work and its capacity to close the gap between us and the leaders." Raikkonen, who stands accused by many of not always being fully focused in his determination, will add further fuel to that fire later this month. He is to compete in a round of the World Rally Championship in his home country of Finland. "As we don't have any tests during the season we've got plenty of spare time, and it's nice to participate in a race to keep busy," he said. "My approach remains the same: it has nothing to do with Formula One - it's pure pleasure."

gcaygill@thenational.ae