Kimi Raikkonen has conceded that his 2012 Formula 1 title hopes are now dead, but still believes he can end the year on a high.
In his F1 comeback season with Lotus after two years away in rallying, 2007 champion Raikkonen emerged as a surprise title contender via a string of podium finishes, despite not winning a race.
The Finn remains third in the standings, and until recently had avidly monitored the points gap between himself and the leaders in the hope of staying in the fight until the end. But with Sebastian Vettel's run of dominant form coinciding with Lotus fading slightly, Raikkonen is now 67 points adrift with only 75 available in the remaining three races. He said the final blow was only finishing seventh in India, trapped behind Felipe Massa's slower Ferrari after qualifying badly on a weekend when Lotus was sure it had podium pace at least.
"We had the speed but not in the right place and when you are behind someone there's not much you can do," said Raikkonen, who yesterday extended his Lotus deal into 2013. "I really thought we had a car with which we could fight for a podium as our lap times were good, but the mistake we made on Saturday took all the chances out.
"The drivers' championship battle is pretty much gone for me, I think, but hopefully in the next race we can have the speed to be able to take more championship points."
Raikkonen believes Lotus will now be a front-runner until the end of the year if it can extract more performance in qualifying.
"The car is good, and if we manage to qualify higher, then I think we would be in a good position to be able to take the most from the next few races," he said.