McLaren at Malaysian Grand Prix Troubles

24 03 2008

By CHRIS LINES

SEPANG, Malaysia (AP) -Two five-grid place penalties for causing interference in qualifying Saturday were the source of McLaren’s problems at the Malaysian Grand Prix. Things got worse with a fumbled pit stop, poor tire choice – and even a malfunctioning drinks system – in Sunday’s race.

The mistakes opened the way for archrival Ferrari, which rebounded from its worst start to an F1 season in 16 years to get reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen back atop the podium.

“I was the first to say in Australia there won’t be much in it,” McLaren team principal Ron Dennis said after the race. “I would say the same now, and I will say the same in Bahrain.”

Lewis Hamilton still leads the drivers’ championship after two rounds with a win in Australia and a fifth-place showing in Malaysia, although team chief executive Martin Whitmarsh described his weekend performance as disappointing. Teammate Heikki Kovalainen finished third.

“There is no doubt Heikki progressed as the event went on,” Whitmarsh said. “Heikki got to a more comfortable position with the balance of his car and it went away from Lewis.

“By Lewis’ high standards, he would be disappointed with that.”

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