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McLaren endure disappointing start

March 07, 2004 13:41 IST

There was no hiding the disappointment in the McLaren garage after the team's dismal performance at Sunday's season-opening Australian Formula One Grand Prix.

Last year's championship runner-up Kimi Raikkonen was the first casualty of the new season when he retired on the 10th lap with engine failure, while team mate David Coulthard could only manage eighth place a year after winning the race.

The two silver arrows were noticeably off the pace all weekend, qualifying 10th and 12th on the grid, and McLaren boss Ron Dennis said it was clear the team had some catching up to do.

"To say it was a difficult weekend for the team would be somewhat of an understatement," Dennis said.

"But it's early in the season and we know what our weaknesses are so they'll be addressed as speedily as possible."

Raikkonen could not have made a more miserable start to his bid to end Michael Schumacher's reign as world champion.

The flying Finn dropped a couple of places after a slow start from 12th on the grid, then made the long walk back to the pits when a loss of water pressure abruptly ended his race.

"The car felt good but unfortunately it didn't last very long and I retired with an engine failure -- definitely not the best way to start the season," he said.

"I'm very disappointed with our performance this weekend but hopefully we can do better in the next race."

Coulthard won last year's Australian Grand Prix after starting on the middle of the grid but there was no repeat of those heroics.

He managed to climb as high as fifth when the leaders took their first round of pit stops but had to settle for eighth and a single world championship point.

"It has really been an unsatisfying weekend for us and the one point we achieved today is a very small consolation," the Scot said.

"I made a good start and gained a few places but eighth was all we could do.

"We are not where we want to be, but we will work very hard on getting there and hopefully should be able to improve for the Malaysian Grand Prix in a few weeks."

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