Kimi Raikkonen knows that he needs a good result at Spa next week if he is to keep his title fight alive and fend of criticism about his motivation for the sport.
The under pressure defending world champion arrives in Belgium on the back of a difficult few races after qualifying poorly at the German and Hungarian grand prix, and suffering an engine failure in Valencia.
The results see him drop to third in the championship, with his on-form team mate Felipe Massa now leading the charge for Ferrari.
Another lacklustre performance this weekend could spell disaster for the Finn’s title hopes with Ferrari making it clear that they would expect the 28-year-old to support Massa if necessary.
“I usually obtain a good result at Spa,” said the Ferrari ace, pointing to his three straight wins at the Ardenne track. “I need it more than ever after the results of the last races. The last race was one of those one should forget as fast as possible.”
“It’s a shame to be involved in many negative stories, but these things happen: it wasn’t for the first time and it might not have been the last in my career. You just have to know how to cope with these situations.”
Key to Raikkonen’s dip in form has been qualifying, where the Finn has struggled to match the pace of Massa. Starting from the third row of the grid has severely compromised Raikkonen in the race, but lap times once there are usually comparable between the two Ferrari drivers.
“The outcome of the Qualifying will be fundamental,” stresses Raikkonen. “Last year I gained the Pole and I hope to repeat it this year. At this circuit a good aero package is very important to face the numerous fast corners.”
The Ferrari driver has won at Spa on the last three occasions and while he admits this should bode well for him, he is under no allusions that he will have to fight hard for a fourth straight win.
“I’ve only good memories of this race. Obviously it would be fantastic to win it for the fourth time in a row: considering that I haven’t won a race in several months, a success would help me to get back in the race for the title after the disappointment at Valencia.”
“Last year we managed to find a good set up for the car during the second part of the season and we won several races. We have to do the same now, because we have to close the gap in the standings.”
“It’s not impossible: 13 points are a lot, but last year I was 17 points behind the leader, with two races to go.”