Kimi still not ready to back Massa title

UPDATE #2 (GMM) The Italian press is continuing to push world champion Kimi Raikkonen about his reluctance to declare his full efforts to the championship charge of his Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa.

The Finn took over from team test driver Luca Badoer at the Mugello circuit in Italy on Thursday, where local reporters asked him again if he feels ready to race as Massa's lieutenant for the final four races of 2008.

"I do not feel like I am the second driver; I will continue to try as hard as I can," Raikkonen, 28, is quoted as saying by the Turin-published La Stampa.

He said winning the world championship for himself is still his main target.

"It is not going to be easy, but you never know. I am going to keep thinking from race to race, not about what has happened recently.

"Only at the end will we find out where everybody finishes," Raikkonen insisted.

Meanwhile, some sections of the press are repeating rumors that Raikkonen, who has not won a race since April's Spanish grand prix, may be having relationship problems with his wife Jenni.

09/15/08 (GMM) Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali has dropped a big hint that the balance of reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen's 2008 campaign will be spent helping teammate Felipe Massa to the title.

On Sunday at Monza, the Finn's failure to score points dropped him a full 21 points behind championship leader Lewis Hamilton with four races to go, while Massa is just 1 point adrift the McLaren driver.

Raikkonen, 28, did not seem keen to fall into line when he spoke to reporters after the Italian grand prix.

But Domenicali told the press: "Our main interest is the team and the drivers know it.

"Of course Kimi will do his best to be as aggressive as possible but also consider the fact that Felipe is much closer to Lewis," the Italian added.

While the majority of teams test at Jerez this week, Ferrari will be in action alone at its own circuit, Mugello.

09/14/08 (GMM) World champion Kimi Raikkonen fell further behind the 2008 title fight on Sunday, but the Finn will still not pledge his remaining efforts to Felipe Massa's more promising campaign.

Raikkonen, in finishing out of the points at Monza, is now a full 20 points behind Massa in the drivers' standings, while Brazilian Massa trails leader Lewis Hamilton by a single point with four races to run.

But to reporters after the race in Italy, 28-year-old Raikkonen would not commit to now supporting Ferrari's best hope for the crown.

"I don't know, we will see what happens," he said, just days after Ferrari announced he will stay with the Italian team for at least two more years.

"I'm not really interested in thinking what we are going to do in the next races."

Recovering to fight for the 2008 title must now be a distant hope for Raikkonen, while doing so may steal points from Massa, who has not been declared Ferrari's number one driver for the rest of the season.

The Finn, who recorded the fastest lap of the race at Monza, insisted of his own chances: "It is not good but we'll keep trying and hoping to do better in the next races."

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