I still drive pretty well, says Raikkonen

MONZA • Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen has suggested his driving this season was no different to a decade earlier, despite age catching up on him.

The Finn is enjoying one of his better seasons, third in the championship behind team-mate and title contender Sebastian Vettel but 85 points behind Mercedes' leader Lewis Hamilton.

"I don't feel that I drive any differently than 10 years ago. I think I drive pretty well, in my books at least, and that's enough for me," said Raikkonen, Formula One world champion in 2007.

He has not won a race since 2013, when he was at Lotus, but has had eight podium finishes in 13 races this campaign.

Raikkonen, who turns 39 next month, faces an uncertain future although it would be no surprise if the Italian team kept him on for one more season and into his 40s.

His current deal concludes at the end of this year.

The paddock has been rife with speculation about whether he will stay or make way for rising star Charles Leclerc, who has had an impressive first season with Sauber.

"I wouldn't be here if I didn't feel I can drive as well as I feel that I should," added Raikkonen. "That's my tool to measure and decide when it's enough.

"People always say that the speed will disappear but, until this day, I feel that it hasn't disappeared."

Leclerc was lucky to escape serious injury last week at the Belgian Grand Prix. And, four days after triggering the accident in which a halo protected the 20-year-old, Renault's Nico Hulkenberg said he has reconsidered his views on the cockpit safety device.

The German, a long-time critic of the halo: "We can only speculate on what would have happened without it, but it looks pretty clear from the point that the tyre marks were all over the halo... it has done a very good job to keep the head safe."

Meanwhile, the Vietnamese government has said it supports the idea of staging a race on the streets of the capital Hanoi following ongoing discussions with F1.

Mai Tien Dung, chief of the Vietnam government office, however, did not say when a final deal would be signed.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2018, with the headline 'I still drive pretty well, says Raikkonen'. Print Edition | Subscribe