Analysis: The Ice Man is Coming

Kimi Raikkonen's Canadian Grand Prix victory has put Formula One leaders Renault on notice

Analysis: The Ice Man is Coming

"Renault better put some warm clothes on because the Iceman is coming," declared a jubilant Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug.

The glacial Finnish driver's third triumph in four races lit up an already thrilling Championship, slashing Spaniard Fernando Alonso's hitherto commanding overall lead to 22 points with 11 races remaining.

A rare error from the 23-year-old Alonso, until Sunday the only driver to have finished every race in the points, and continuing bad luck for Italian Giancarlo Fisichella left pace-setting Renault empty-handed in Montreal.

The battle for both the Drivers' and Constructors' Championships is suddenly wide open, with McLaren more convinced than ever that they can win both.

But while the Mercedes-powered team head to Indianapolis for this weekend's US Grand Prix just 13 points behind Renault in the standings, there is still a long road ahead.

As McLaren boss Ron Dennis observed of Alonso's lead last month when Raikkonen won in Monaco, the only way to eat an elephant is one mouthful at a time.

"Norbert's enthusiasm is understandable," he said. "Our approach is simple. We will not race strategically, we are going to race to win.

"We will just go to Indianapolis with the clear intention of trying to win it and we are not going to get into fancy mathematics.

"To win this World Championship we have to win a lot more races and there is an inevitable to-ing and fro-ing that will take place."

Renault, stunned by their first double failure of the season, did their best to sound unconcerned.

"Nothing's changed," declared head of engineering Pat Symonds.

"We saw it turn around after Monaco, we saw it turn around again after Nurburgring. It's going to be a really good Championship, there's no doubt about it."

Crashed Out

Alonso has won four races, gifted a victory at the Nurburgring two weeks ago when Raikkonen crashed out on the last lap when leading due to suspension failure caused by flat-spotting a front tyre.

Before that Renault had suffered cripplingly heavy tyre wear in the glamour Monaco Grand Prix, with Alonso limping home in fourth place.

"We had a bad race in Monaco and we bounced back. And we'll bounce back at Indy. I think Indy will be another good circuit for us," Symonds said.

"We're confident. The biggest problem to be honest with a result like this, other than the result itself, is that we're out second and third in qualifying in Indy and that's the hard thing."

Toyota fell back, Italian Jarno Trulli having a podium finish slip through his fingers following brake failure when running third late in the race.

He slipped to third overall in the standings with 27 points to Raikkonen's 37 and Alonso's 59.

The biggest gainers of all were champions Ferrari, still without a win after nine races but with seven-times champion Michael Schumacher second and Brazilian teammate Rubens Barrichello third.

Ferrari have 45 points to Renault's 76.

"I think we will go very well (at Indianapolis), we have always been quite fast there," Barrichello said.

"This year we still think that we are catching McLaren and Renault."

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Series Formula 1
Author Alan Baldwin
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