Formula1 - McLaren Mercedes Kimi Raikkonen 2nd at Australian GP

Formula1 - McLaren Mercedes Kimi Raikkonen 2nd at Australian GP

02.04.2006: Formula1 - McLaren Mercedes Kimi Raikkonen 2nd at Australian GP



Kimi Raikkonen MP4-21 02

Juan Pablo Montoya MP4-21 03

T-car (Juan Pablo) MP4-21 01

Team McLaren Mercedes driver Kimi Raikkonen finished today's Australian Grand Prix in second place, only 1.8 seconds behind race winner Fernando Alonso. Kimi also set the fastest lap of the race with 1:26.045 on the very last lap. Juan Pablo Montoya was forced to retire from fourth place on lap 46 when the Colombian hit the kerb so severely that the engine's safety system was activated. The 57-laps Grand Prix was incident filled and saw the Mercedes Benz Safety Car deployed four times on laps 1-3, 7-9, 34-38 and 38-40. Kimi had his pitstops on laps 21 (9.388 seconds) and 34 (16.306 seconds), whilst Juan Pablo came in on laps 18 (9.369 seconds) and 34 (11.303 seconds). In Kimi's second pitstop, which took place during the third Safety Car period, the team also changed his front wing. Kimi is now joint second in the Drivers' Championship with 14 points whilst Juan Pablo is sixth with nine points. Team McLaren Mercedes remains second in the Constructors' standings with 23 points. The next race will be the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola in Italy on 23rd April but the Team McLaren Mercedes test team will be back in action at Paul Ricard in France next week and in Barcelona the following week.

KIMI RAIKKONEN

"Despite not winning I'm really pleased as we now have a package which is level with the Renaults which I think we demonstrated today. The race was rather hectic. I enjoyed a good battle with Juan Pablo at the start, but when I overtook Jenson I flatspotted my right front tyre which caused some vibration. However I was still able to go flat out and keep up with Fernando, but then all of a sudden the footplate on the right hand side of my front wing fractured probably due to the vibration. As a result I started to have severe understeer and lost a lot of time to Fernando. Fortunately with 21 laps to go the Safety Car came out which gave us enough time to go into the pits and change the front wing. I was really pushing, but in the final Safety Car period one of the Midland cars was between Fernando and I, which meant I was unable to get really close to have a go. An enjoyable race and I can't wait for Imola. The team has definitely made great progress with our entire package."



JUAN PABLO MONTOYA

"There was a lot going on in the race today. As we were lining up on the grid I made a mistake and spun the car. Fortunately the start was aborted, and I was able to take up my original start position in fifth spot. However during the first Safety Car period I had another spin which cost me two positions. Overall I found it rather challenging getting the grip into the tyres today and the four Safety Car periods didn’t make it easier. I think I could have finished on the podium, but as I was pushing to get past Ralf I hit the kerb at the start of the straight and went into a bit of a wobble but managed to save it. Unfortunately the impact activated a default system which switched off the engine and that was the end of my race. It’s a real shame as our package felt fantastic throughout the weekend. We can definitely go into the start of the European season with lots of confidence."

RON DENNIS

"The early part of the race was exciting as once Kimi was past Button, he had the pace to catch Fernando. Juan Pablo's retirement was caused by the activation of the engine safety system following a severe impact on the kerb clearly costing him third place. Kimi's race was disrupted by a flatspotted tyre obtained whilst passing Button resulting in severe vibration that led to a failure of the right hand front wing endplate. Towards the end of the race we took advantage of one of the Safety Car deployments to change the nose which gave Kimi the ability to close the gap to Fernando. It was also disappointing that both Kimi and Juan Pablo were trapped behind slower cars in two of the re-starts but at the end of the day we have the pace to win and this time last year our points deficit was significantly greater. As a team we look forward to returning to Europe and continuing the battle."

NORBERT HAUG

"Kimi gave it his all. Unfortunately he was hampered by a flatspotted tyre and a damaged part of the front wing. Once the nose was changed he demonstrated good speed. Juan Pablo hit a kerb too hard which caused his retirement. Our technical package is on a good level both with regards to speed and reliability, and now we have to improve our performance further during the next few races."

- Ellen Kolby , Wolfgang Schattling -
photos copyright McLaren-Mercedes

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02.04.2006 / MaP

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