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Early engine change for Raikkonen 07 Oct 2005

A McLaren Mercedes MP4/20 is cleaned.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Suzuka, Japan, 6 October 2005

McLaren’s chances of retaining their lead in the constructors’ world championship took a dip this morning when Kimi Raikkonen’s MP4-20 ground to a halt with an engine failure in Turn 4 after just eight laps in this morning’s practice session.

The Finn had lapped in 1m 33.486s, which left him only 13th in the order and now faces a 10 grid place penalty - his fourth of the season - for an engine change.

There was a ray of sunshine on an overcast day for the team, however, after test driver Pedro de la Rosa set the fastest time in 1m 30.532s. This was comfortably faster than Toyota test driver Ricardo Zonta, who managed 1m 31.075s before his TF105B ground to a halt in Turn 8 after 16 laps.

Jenson Button and Takuma Sato have got off to a good start for BAR Honda on the latter’s homeground, the Englishman setting third fastest time of 1m 32.043s, the Japanese the eighth in 1m 32.791s. In between them, David Coulthard got in a quick one for Red Bull in 1m 32.229s to head Brazilian Grand Prix victor Juan Pablo Montoya (1m 32.321s), new world champion Fernando Alonso (1m 32.370s) and Giancarlo Fisichella (1m 32.470s).

Mark Webber lapped his Williams in 1m 33.098s for ninth best time, with Christian Klien completing the top 10 for Red Bull in 1m 33.139s.

Felipe Massa was 11th for Sauber in 1m 33.257s to head Vitantonio Liuzzi in the third Red Bull (1m 33.441s), Raikkonen, Antonio Pizzonia (1m 33.528s), Jacques Villeneuve (who spun approaching the chicane after lapping in 1m 33.645s), Rubens Barrichello (1m 33.700s), Ralf Schumacher (1m 33.735s) and Michael Schumacher (1m 33.886s).

Jarno Trulli was 19th for Toyota with a best lap of 1m 34.535s, while newcomer Sakon Yamamoto, a Toyota GT and Formula Nippon racer, lapped fastest of the three Jordan drivers in an impressive 1m 36.295s to run ahead of Christijan Albers’ Minardi (1m 37.153s), Narain Karthikeyan’s Jordan (1m 37.154s), Tiago Monteiro (1m 37.250s) and Robert Doornbos’s Minardi (1m 38.742s).

Right now the sky is very heavy, and with rain forecast for the rest of the day this might turn out to be the only time today that the cars ran on dry road.