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Kimi hoping to break German jinx
Alan Baldwin | May 05, 2006 21:29 IST
Kimi Raikkonen needs to overcome a German jinx if he is to be King of the Ring this weekend.
McLaren's Finnish Iceman has suffered more pain and frustration over the years at the country's two Formula One circuits than anywhere else on the calendar.
Three retirements in a row at the Nuerburgring, which hosts Sunday's European Grand Prix, go hand in hand with five in succession at Hockenheim.
In 10 starts in Germany, he has scored points just once -- a third place in his first season with McLaren in the 2002 European Grand Prix.
"It seems to always happen in Germany. Quite often we've been first or second and then something goes wrong. I don't know why," said Raikkonen on his return to the Nuerburgring, a special circuit in Mercedes' motorsport history as the birthplace of the famed pre-war 'Silver Arrows'.
"It seems to be hard to have a good result here in the home races for Mercedes, unfortunately. Hopefully this year will be different.
"Hopefully nothing goes wrong and we can be quick. Usually the car has been quite good here, even a few years ago when we had a bad car it was still good here."
Raikkonen will be seeking McLaren's first win of the season on Sunday in what will also be the team's 600th start since their race debut with founder Bruce McLaren at the wheel in Monaco in 1966.
Lagging Renault's Fernando Alonso by 18 points after four races, the Finn needs a victory to haul himself back into championship contention.
Alonso is quite right to see Raikkonen, winner of seven races last year on his way to the runner-up slot in the championship, as a big threat.
The Spaniard would agree with McLaren's Ron Dennis, his team boss from next season, that the past counts for little and the present is all that matters. He knows also that the race results distort the true picture.
Raikkonen could have won two of the last three races at the Nuerburgring as well as two of the last three at Hockenheim.
Last year he led until the last lap at the Nuerburgring when vibrations from a flat-spotted tyre -- caused as he braked into a corner after lapping Canadian Jacques Villeneuve -- pitched him out with suspension failure.
Alonso, running second, was the beneficiary in a car that was clearly slower than the McLarens at that stage in the season.
In 2003, Raikkonen started on pole position at the same circuit, set the fastest lap and then retired with engine failure while comfortably in the lead.
That probably cost him the championship, ending up instead as runner-up to Ferrari's Michael Schumacher.
If he were a superstitious man, Mercedes motorsport head Norbert Haug would be loading himself up with lucky charms. But he is not.
"If you look at any statistics, there are obviously some racetracks where you get fantastic results and some where you do not," he told Reuters. "Often after a while that changes, it has nothing to do with luck.
"We do not have any special feelings other than that this is the racetrack where the Silver Arrows were born 72 years ago, we have a great history here even if we did not win a lot.
"We have had races like Monaco where we (Mercedes) have won four times...it would obviously be nice to have a good result at a home grand prix but I do not think there is any mystique in it," added Haug.
"We have not had the best results in our home races, but having said that I think it took Williams 20 years to win in Monaco and we won four times in eight years."
Raikkonen took one of those Monaco wins last year and another victory could help tilt the balance towards him staying at McLaren next year, despite Ferrari's obvious interest and perhaps Renault's as well.
"One thing is for sure, every success and every impression that we are heading in the right direction and closing the gap is helping," said Haug.
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