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Raikkonen joins the Monaco greats
May 23, 2005 11:06 IST
McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen stepped up his championship challenge on Sunday with a victory that lifted him up alongside some of Formula One's greatest names.
A win in Monaco, the most-watched and most glamorous of Grands Prix while also the slowest and most anachronistic with its twisty street circuit and harbourside backdrop, is unlike any other.
"For sure we will have a good party tonight."
Raikkonen's second win in a row, and his second from pole position, lifted him up to second place in the championship as the clear rival to Renault's runaway leader Fernando Alonso.
Even if the gap between the two is still a hefty 22 points, Raikkonen has the momentum as the attention switches to the Nuerburgring in Germany next weekend.
"Usually we have been pretty quick at Nuerburgring," he said. "I like the place, last year we were reasonably okay with the old car which wasn't very quick anywhere so I think I'm more confident going there than I was coming here.
"So far we didn't have a good start to the season but now everything seems to get better," he added.
"The car is fast and reliable, the Michelin tyres are working very well, we have a good engine package also and we are improving the car all the time.
"I think it could be a very good end of season for us. I am looking forward to every race. I think the car felt quick here, quick in Barcelona so I don't see any reason why it shouldn't be quick in every race."
The only hitch in what was otherwise a faultless race for the Finn came when the safety car was deployed on lap 24 and there was momentary confusion on the pit wall.
While Alonso and others pitted, Raikkonen stayed out and kept on going for half the race before coming in for his one refuelling stop.
It looked like a masterly move, but the Finn revealed afterwards that it had not been quite so smooth with the team calling him in just as he sped past the pit lane entry.
"The team got a bit confused and I was shouting back a little bit, you know, what the hell are they doing," he said.
"I think it was because they had the safety boards out but on the computer or somewhere they didn't say the safety car was out.
Team boss Ron Dennis said the safety car had his strategists scrambling to double-check data before making the final decision.
After that, it was almost a cruise.
"Just after the pitstop I was just driving around and trying to keep some pace because if you slow down too much with the tyres we have now, you lose the heat on the tyres and it is more difficult," said Raikkonen.
"It's not so easy to drive slowly any more."
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