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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Has Raikkonen lost 'the desire?' Don't bet on it

Kimi Raikkonen has had a couple of difficult races, that much is for certain. But if you believe the press, you can stick a fork in the 28-year-old world champion, ’cause he’s done.

A quick look at the facts. Raikkonen hasn’t won a race since Barcelona in April. That’s a span of seven races. In that span he has scored 28 points.

What cost him points? He came together with Adrian Sutil in Monaco and finished ninth, he was eliminated by Lewis Hamilton in Canada (no fault of his own).

He was the victim of a poor team decision at Silverstone, yet still finished fourth. He finished third in Turkey, and was second in France.

The worst you could say is he has had two poor qualifying sessions in a row, resulting in a sixth in Germany and a third in Hungary.

On could argue he should have been closer to Felipe Massa at Hungaroring when the Brazilian’s engine failed, but he was pressuring Glock at the time, only backing off when it became necessary for him to be conservative.

Now, let’s take a glance at the 2008 season. First it was Massa who was about to get canned before saving his bacon (again) in Bahrain. Then it was Lewis Hamilton who couldn’t put a foot right. And Hungary race winner Heikki Kovalainen was fighting for a job just a few weeks ago, if you believe what you read.

So how bad has it been for Raikkonen? Isn’t he second in the championship?

  1. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 62
  2. Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) 57
  3. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 54

Not bad, right? But not enough for the Italian media, in this case, sports newspaper Tuttosport.

“He seems a pale imitation of the driver of the past,” crash.net quotes the newspaper. “This Raikkonen is not the driver that Ferrari needs. He needs to ask himself whether he really still has the desire.”

Well, does he “still have the desire?” Or is he thinking about retirement?

“I never said anything like that,” he said, according to crash.net. “Somebody made it up.”

What the Finn does say is he must improve his qualifying performance. He has been outqualified by Massa 7-4 this season.

"We have the speed in the race, but if I can't get qualifying right we are going to end up at every race in the situation I've faced in the last two races,” Fox reports Raikkonen said. “We need to sort it out and get back to the front so we can fight for the wins, otherwise we are just following people, and when you do that you can't use the speed.”

If Damon Hill were a betting man, he’d bet on Raikkonen.

“Ferrari’s pace is the real danger,” ITV reports he said. “We’re getting to Ferrari territory at the races from now on. If you had asked me before the race in Hungary who I would put money on, I would have said Lewis, but I have to say I would want my bet back now. Ferrari look strong and so, as an outside bet, I would put my money on Raikkonen.”

He could have said Massa. He didn’t. He thinks Raikkonen. He doesn’t say why, but I’ll take a guess.

Raikkonen is a consistent driver. With the exceptions of Monaco (his own fault) and Canada (not his fault), he scores points. Every race. Massa does not.

The points system, as it exists in Formula One, rewards consistency. Raikkonen’s finds him second in the championship. Questioning the value of consistency? What if Massa hadn’t thrown away points in the beginning of the season? Who would be leading this thing?

Could his title defense fail? Sure. But even if he can’t turn around his recent woes, all he needs to do is keep the championship within reach. Let's not lose sight of of how he became world champion in the first place.

Kimi Raikkonen will be fine Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, I'll show my age. I remember when the driver champion didn't win that many races. But he was always in the points and almost always on the podium. He would be close to the points leaders and gradually overtake them. Consistency was king.

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