Tyre woes hit Raikkonen title hopes 04 Sep 2005
At one point in Sundays Italian Grand Prix, McLarens Kimi Raikkonen looked set for a podium, despite his 11th place start. That all changed on lap 28, however, when he was forced to stop for a precautionary tyre change.
The left-rear Michelin on Raikkonens car had apparently started to delaminate, leaving the team with no choice but to call their driver in. It immediately put the Finn back where he had started the race - stuck behind the Sauber of Jacques Villeneuve.
This time, however, he was quickly past the former champion - thanks to some incorrect blue flagging from the marshals forcing Villeneuve to pull over. From there, with championship leader Fernando Alonso sitting pretty in second, Raikkonen knew he had it all to do.
The pressure seemed to tell, as the McLaren star spun at the second chicane in the closing stages, letting the Toyota of Jarno Trulli through into fourth. He didnt give up, of course, and quickly caught and repassed Trulli, but by then the gap to the Renaults was simply too great.
The drama wasnt over, though. With a safe victory in sight, race leader and team mate Juan Pablo Montoya started to experience similar problems with his left rear. Bits of rubber started to come away from the tyre, but stopping would have handed Renault a one-two, and with it almost certain victory in the constructors title. McLaren duly kept the Colombian out and he made it home a little over two seconds clear of Alonso.
That decision kept the silver team firmly in contention for constructors honours - they scored a point more than Renault at Monza, closing the gap to just eight points with four rounds remaining.
The news for Raikkonen is less encouraging. He now trails Alonso by 27 points, which means if the Spaniard out-scores him by four points or more at Spa next weekend, his hopes of the 2005 drivers title are over.
After the race, McLaren team boss Ron Dennis admitted that the problems on both cars had almost certainly been down to set-up rather than the tyres themselves.