Raikkonen prepared to sacrifice himself to help Vettel

BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) Kimi Raikkonen is prepared to sacrifice himself in order to help Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel win a fifth Formula One title.

Vettel leads the championship by 12 points ahead of Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton after seven races. Raikkonen is fourth and already trails Vettel by 68 points.

''When I don't have a chance mathematically to fight for the championship, for sure I will help him. I have no issues with that,'' Raikkonen said Thursday. ''It's about the team and the first thing is to try and make sure we are at the top with Ferrari.''

Ferrari is chasing its first drivers' title since Raikkonen won his only title in 2007 and its first constructors' title since 2008.

In the constructors' battle, Ferrari trails Mercedes by eight points heading into this weekend's Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

''We have a good car everywhere. Hopefully we'll be at the front again,'' Raikkonen said. ''It's been close every race this year.''

Although the Finnish driver looked set for victory at the Monaco Grand Prix last month, his hopes were ended when his team brought him into the pits for a tire change earlier than he wanted. That left Vettel in the clear to race away to victory, with Raikkonen finishing second.

Even though Raikkonen was disappointed in the aftermath of that race, and made his frustration known, he now appears fully committed to helping Vettel when the time comes.

''I think we have very clear rules in the team and what the team wants us to do. It goes by those rules,'' Raikkonen said. ''Nothing has changed and we know exactly when things will go either way. That's fine.''

The 37-year-old Raikkonen acknowledged that Vettel's consistency makes him the obvious choice as the team's No. 1 driver.

''Seb has done very good races so far and has been strong everywhere,'' Raikkonen said. ''I was not starting very well the first races. I was not where I wanted to be.''

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