Schumacher Not the Best Driver, Says Raikkonen

Finn Kimi Raikkonen has refused to bow down to Michael Schumacher as this year's title battle comes to a head by insisting the five-time champion is "just another driver" and claiming he will not walk to another Championship with ease.

Schumacher Not the Best Driver, Says Raikkonen

Finn Kimi Raikkonen has refused to bow down to Michael Schumacher as this year's title battle comes to a head by insisting the five-time champion is "just another driver" and claiming he will not walk to another Championship with ease.

Schumacher is still leading the chase in a bid to secure his record sixth World Championship but Raikkonen said: "It is not my style to think that the World Champion is always the best driver. That is why I don't think Michael is the best and in a class of his own just because he has won five World Championships. He is just another driver - nothing else."

Raikkonen led the World Championship for the first half of the season after taking his maiden Grand Prix victory in Malaysia and regularly scoring podium finishes. He has been overtaken by Ferrari driver Schumacher and lost more ground in this year's closely-fought title battle when he crashed out of the German Grand Prix on the first lap two weekends ago.

But he is determined to fight to the finish - despite failing to get his hands on McLaren's fast but unreliable new MP4-18 machine in time for the final few races of the year.

"I will give everything I have got and I will fight as long as I have the slightest chance of the title," he told Autosport magazine. "It doesn't matter that I am now nine points behind - a lot can change in four races. If we can get everything right we still have the chance to win and fight until the end of the season. The main thing is to stay in touch and I do not feel any pressure."

But even if Schumacher does win the title - or if Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya steals it for Williams-BMW - Raikkonen still does not believe that would prove they are better than him. As the title battle closes in to one of the tightest finishes in recent years, the young Finn challenged his rivals to a race in identical cars to prove who is the best.

"I would love to get all the drivers to race in a Ferrari or a McLaren," said Raikkonen. "That would give everybody the opportunity to see who is really the best driver. It is very difficult to beat Michael, but it is possible. He is quick but there are some other drivers who are also very quick.

"Michael has so much experience that he knows more about winning than anyone else. That's what makes him so difficult to beat - but this year it has been easier because he has not been dominating as he has done in the previous seasons. So much can still happen."

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