SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium (Reuters) - Finnish veteran Kimi Raikkonen believes he can still win races and fight for Formula One championships after agreeing a contract extension keeping him at Ferrari next season.
The taciturn but popular Finn, a world champion with the Italian team in 2007, has not won a grand prix since he was at Lotus in 2013 and, at 37, is the oldest driver on the starting grid.
Ferrari’s decision to keep him on, announced ahead of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, may have disappointed those seeking fresh talent at the top but Raikkonen was adamant on Thursday that he still had dreams to chase.
“I enjoy racing and obviously I want to do well. If I did not feel that I can go fast I wouldn’t be happy in myself... I wouldn’t be here,” he told reporters.
”I have zero interest to waste my time or the team’s time to be a part of it, it’s not the nicest place to just hang around. So the racing is the main thing.
“As long as I feel myself that I can win races and fight for championships then that’s fine. When I don’t feel like that, I will be the first guy to do something else.”
Raikkonen left Ferrari and the sport in 2009, returning to Lotus in 2012 after a spell in rallying and in North America. He rejoined Ferrari in 2014.
This season he has taken his first pole position since 2008, leading the way in qualifying in Monaco, and has taken two second places and two thirds in 11 races.
The Finn is fifth overall with 116 points, compared to championship-leading team mate Sebastian Vettel on 202, but has proved a loyal team mate and gets on well with the German.
“Lately it’s been a bit better, we’ve been feeling a bit more comfortable and been able to drive as we want and obviously the result suddenly looks a bit better,” said Raikkonen.
“I’m confident we are doing the right things and getting where we want to be.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar