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Raikkonen can still win, says McLaren boss
Alan Baldwin | September 04, 2005 01:14 IST
Formula One title contender Kimi Raikkonen can still win Sunday's Italian Grand Prix despite starting from 11th place on the grid, according to his McLaren boss Ron Dennis.
"We have the speed to come first and second, even in this difficult situation," he told reporters.
Raikkonen was fastest in qualifying but lost 10 places on the starting grid because of an engine change after final practice.
Colombian team mate Juan Pablo Montoya took pole position instead but is out of the running for the championship with five races remaining.
Raikkonen is second in the standings, 24 points behind Renault's Fernando Alonso who will start on the front row and is well-placed to increase his lead.
Dennis said the team counted their blessings in that Raikkonen's engine problem happened in practice rather than in qualifying or the race.
"We clearly had to change our strategy to try and give Kimi the maximum opportunity for the best result and, taking that into the calculations, his (qualifying) lap was particularly impressive," he said.
He added that the first test for Raikkonen would be negotiating the opening chicane safely and then surviving the first lap.
"From that moment on, we have to push. But our pace and our strategy should put us in a very strong position.
Raikkonen finished second in France after starting 13th and third in Britain from 12th place.
Mercedes motorsport head Norbert Haug apologised to Raikkonen for the failure that dealt the Finn's title hopes yet another knock in a season of setbacks.
"To make it very clear, we are just not good enough," he said. "This is not blaming anybody but we should not have changed the engines three times over the course of half a season or whatever."We have improved our speed dramatically and we are not there reliability-wise, that is quite obvious. We have to admit that and we deserve to be criticised on that point."
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