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Raikkonen says he can still retain his F1 title

August 25, 2008 18:20 IST

Ferrari's [Images] Kimi Raikkonen [Images] said his Formula One title defence remained alive on Sunday despite a European Grand Prix retirement extending his winless run to eight races.

The 28-year-old Finn, whose last victory was in Spain at the end of April, was involved in a bungled pit stop and then suffered a spectacular engine failure at Valencia's new street circuit.

Raikkonen was left 13 points adrift of McLaren's overall leader Lewis Hamilton [Images], and seven behind his own Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa [Images], with six races remaining.

"I am sure I can still improve my qualifying and my results," said the Finn, who made up a 17 point deficit in the last two races of last season to take his first world championship by a single point.

"There is still a long way to go so let's wait and see what happens."

Raikkonen, who has recognised he needs to improve in practice and qualifying, started only fourth in Sunday's race while Massa won from pole position.

"I think I can do better than that so I am trying to improve," he said.

At his second pit-stop, Raikkonen pulled away too early and a mechanic was run over but escaped with only slight injuries. The Finn blamed himself for the incident as he pulled away before the fuel hose had been removed entirely.

"There is not much to say. I left [the pits] a bit too early. It was my fault and unfortunately I ran over the guy who was refuelling. We need to look and see what really happened," he said.

Two laps later, with 12 remaining, the Ferrari's engine blew up on the main straight in a cloud of billowing smoke.

"Sure, it was not a good day, but these things happen in racing. I am not too worried. I still think I can come back this season," said the driver.

Raikkonen has scored just 22 points in his last seven races, after racking up 35 in the opening five.

"It was not a great weekend, but it is not the first time. We are in a bit of a worse situation in the championship, but if we get all the things sorted then I think we still have a chance to come back," he said.

"We know what the issues have been, but unfortunately we haven't been able to sort them out. Hopefully now in the next test we can work a bit and try to find the solution for it. If we get the qualifying right it will help a lot."

Ferrari team chief Stefano Domenicali said: "We still have faith in him, of course. He is a world champion and we are a loyal team."

Domenicali blamed the pit-stop error on a problem with the team's lights system used at pit stops.

He said the team would investigate the engine failure but suspected it could be a similar component problem to the one that sidelined Massa in Hungary.

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