Dennis: Australian GP Hurt McLaren

McLaren boss Ron Dennis said on Saturday that the team's problems in the opening race of the season in Australia destabilised their Championship challenge more than they had first expected

Dennis: Australian GP Hurt McLaren

The British team headed to Australia as pre-season favourites having set strong laptimes in winter testing but they were thwarted by heavy rain that fell midway through the qualifying session.

The downpour left Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen ninth and tenth on the grid respectively and Dennis believes the confidence blow from that Saturday session had repercussions long into the season.

"We took a bigger psychological blow in Australia than we imagined," admitted Dennis. "It was mind-blowingly frustrating to go from pre-season testing to having qualifying washed out by rain.

"The drivers were desperate in the race and they both ran wide and damaged the deflectors. We came out of that as a bruised team and it took us a while for us to recover from it."

Raikkonen recovered well, however, finishing on the podium in Bahrain and then overcoming a disappointing failure in San Marino to claim victory in the Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix.

He has been favourite for victory in every one of the last four races after overhauling Renault's surprise early season pace but he now has a 32-point deficit to overcome to get past Alonso in the title race.

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