Kimi Raikkonen has all but conceded defeat in the world championship race, admitting he needs a miracle to stop Fernando Alonso.

McLaren driver Raikkonen has seen a string of mechanical failures undermine his efforts to take a maiden world crown, losing yet another certain victory last weekend in Germany when a hydraulic failure struck as he was leading the race.

That took his tally of missed wins to three while engine failures have cost him two ten-place grid penalties to further hit his hopes.

Raikkonen's misfortune has allowed Alonso to stretch his advantage to 36 points, despite McLaren's superiority over the Spaniard's Renault.

Now, the Finn admits his world championship dream is effectively over for this year. Asked yesterday whether he is still thinking of a championship challenge, he replied: "Not really.

"I think we are slipping away a bit too much now. We still have a chance but you need to be realistic. It's not likely without any problems for anyone else."

Raikkonen even revealed that he could leave McLaren in the wake of his disappointments this season, if matters do not improve in 2006.

He has a deal in place for next season when he expects to fight for the title, but claimed he could look elsewhere if car problems again prevent a sustained championship challenge.

"Next year I have a contract and, in terms of my future, I don't know what is happening," he said at the Hungaroring, host to this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix. "I haven't made my mind up.

"Maybe I will stay with them because I am happy with them. We just need to work to make sure the car is reliable."

However, Raikkonen insists he will not dwell on previous disappointments, vowing to focus on rescuing a strong result in Hungary this weekend despite his qualifying handicap.

The 25-year-old must start qualifying first, when a dusty track is expected to cost him around a quarter-of-a-second compared to Alonso, who starts last.

But Raikkonen has put his frustration to one side, saying: "It's over. It's not the first time, unfortunately, so you get used to it.

"It's disappointing for everyone but we just have to look forward to this race. Sometimes, these things happen. It's not very nice but what can you do?"

Alonso's finishing record has accentuated McLaren's difficulties, with the 23-yearold Spaniard's only retirements coming when he crashed out in Canada and when Renault joined six other Michelin teams in refusing to race in the fiasco at Indianapolis.

Alonso believes his consistency will be the key to beating Raikkonen to the title, claiming he can expect podium finishes as long as he makes no mistakes.

"I am just concentrating on this race," he said. "After the last race, I didn't even count the points I have or the points that I need.

"There are seven races to go and it's a nice gap.

"The car is doing really well, we can finish the races with no mechanical problems. What I need to do is make no mistakes and then I am sure, with this competitive car, we will have podium finishes."