McLaren Limber Up for Title Showdown

McLaren limbered up for their title showdown with Renault by setting the pace in Friday practice for the season-ending Chinese Grand Prix

McLaren Limber Up for Title Showdown

McLaren's Spanish test driver Pedro de la Rosa, who will not race on Sunday, lapped 1.8 seconds faster than anybody else in the first session in Shanghai and was also quickest in the second.

Ferrari's Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, without a win since last year's inaugural Chinese Grand Prix, returned as the fastest race driver in the morning but McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen filled that slot in the afternoon.

McLaren need to score two points more than Renault in the season-ending race to take the constructors' title for the first time since 1998.

The Mercedes-powered team lag Renault, who have already clinched the drivers' championship with Spaniard Fernando Alonso, by two points.

However McLaren, winners of the last six races, will take the title if they end up level on points because they have won 10 Grands Prix this year to their rivals' seven.

"A good start to the weekend and let's hope it continues this way," said Raikkonen. "Everything has been working well, and the car feels really strong.

"I can't wait for tomorrow and Sunday where hopefully we will be able to achieve our goal of winning the 2005 Constructors' World Championship."

McLaren's Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, who crashed out of the previous Japanese Grand Prix on the first lap and will have the disadvantage of having to run early in Saturday's qualifying, was sixth and fifth.

"My car had a bit of understeer but apart from that everything worked well, and our package seems to cope well with the special challenges of the Shanghai circuit," said Montoya.

"We will continue our planned programme in tomorrow's two practice sessions and as always with Pedro's input and feedback regarding tyres we should be in a strong position."

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