Engine failure dogs McLaren to deepen Raikkonen's unrest

In a masterpiece of spin, McLaren quoted the Finn as saying: "I'm a bit disappointed with the engine failure which stopped my first practice session prematurely. However, we managed to get some running in the second practice."

Nevertheless, for the Finn it is an unwelcome hat-trick for the season: the third time he has suffered the penalty levied on drivers for the shortcomings of their engine supplier. The lack of reliability from Mercedes-Benz is one of the factors that is believed to lie behind Raikkonen's recent talks with Ferrari.

That deal is all but cemented, according to insiders, though Raikkonen himself fudged questions by saying: "They're not new rumours, they are already three years old. But of course, now, everyone knows my contract is only to next year with McLaren, so maybe it becomes more exciting to write about those rumours.

"The fact is that I have a contract next year," he added, "and I'm happy with the team and for sure the car will also be good next year and I don't see any reason to go anywhere else. OK, after next year, we will see again, but I'm happy to stay."

For the record, all of the rumours acknowledge that Raikkonen has a firm contract with McLaren for 2006 and refer to 2007 and beyond, something he neatly managed to sidestep.

The Suzuka circuit is narrow and demanding, and though the McLaren has thus far proved to be the fastest car, as usual, it will still be difficult for Raikkonen to work his way from 11th place (or worse, depending on how fast he can go in qualifying today) to help the team's quest for points.

An additional complication, this time for everybody, arose yesterday afternoon when rain interrupted the second practice session after the Brazilian Ricardo Zonta had taken his Toyota round in a time scarcely slower than the McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa had achieved in the morning.

Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello were also well up in their hitherto uncompetitive Ferraris, but mainly because the rain subsequently slowed everyone else down before they got their quick laps in.

"Driving at Suzuka is always fun," Schumacher said, "but I find it difficult to judge how we went today. We definitely did better in the second session, but the time difference is down to the fact that we were probably the only ones to run on new tyres before the rain came."

The new world champion, Fernando Alonso, was sixth in the morning and eighth in the afternoon, but was not too bothered. "We expected rain in the afternoon so ran a lot in the first session, which was quite difficult for the drivers" the Spaniard said. "We looked reasonably quick and there is a lot more potential in the car and myself to improve."

Jenson Button was happy with the third fastest morning time in his BAR-Honda. "I hope we can continue to get stronger during the rest of the weekend," Button said.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific