Preview: Raikkonen Seeks to Close Gap

Kimi Raikkonen is perfectly placed to take another chunk out of Renault rival Fernando Alonso's Championship lead at Indianapolis on Sunday

Preview: Raikkonen Seeks to Close Gap

The McLaren driver's victory in Canada last weekend, after Alonso hit the wall and retired while leading, allowed Raikkonen to slash the Spaniard's advantage to 22 points with 11 races remaining.

The Finnish 'Iceman' will now have the prime slot in qualifying while Formula One pacesetter Alonso has the disadvantage of running early as a result of his rare error.

"I think Indy should suit our car better than this place," Raikkonen said after coming from seventh on the starting grid in Montreal to take his third win in four races as others fell like ninepins.

"So I think we should be stronger there than here.

"I think we were pretty strong in the race here anyhow, and hopefully we can get both cars to the finish ... And try to catch up more on the Renaults."

Alonso, winner of half of the eight races so far, has a pitiful record at Indianapolis. In three visits to 'The Brickyard', he has yet to reach the finish.
 
"I always had very bad luck at Indy, a lot of mechanical problems," he said. "So this year, with everything going well and all the luck with me, I really hope to finish.

"Indianapolis is a famous track, a very historic track, and I really want to do well there and get on the podium if I can."

Renault lead McLaren by 13 points in the Constructors' Championship.

Ferrari Hope

Ferrari have been the kings of Indy since it became home to the US Grand Prix in 2000. The only driver to have beaten the red cars there was Raikkonen's compatriot and McLaren predecessor Mika Hakkinen, in 2001.

The once-dominant champions have fallen on hard times since last year's 15 wins in 18 Grands Prix and arrive in America, a key commercial market for Ferrari, with a nine-race losing streak weighing heavily on their minds.

However seven-times champion Michael Schumacher and Brazilian Rubens Barrichello revived their team's hopes with second and third places in Montreal.

Schumacher will be gunning for his fourth win in total at Indy, and third in a row after success in 2004 and 2003, while Barrichello won in 2002. Schumacher's younger brother Ralf, now with Toyota, attempted to sound enthusiastic about returning to the circuit where he crashed heavily last year, forcing him to miss six races.

"Since its arrival on the F1 calendar in 2000, Indianapolis has been an unlucky track for me," he said. "But this season is a different story, and I am confident we can rectify this unfortunate record."

Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, Ralf's former teammate at Williams and now with Raikkonen at McLaren, also wants to break out of a painful cycle.

Disqualified in Canada last weekend, after the same happened to him in both Montreal and Indianapolis last year, Montoya has his work cut out.

"I haven't even arrived at Indy and I probably got a second penalty by being the first car out in qualifying," said the Colombian.

He will at least have strong support in what is almost a home race, with plenty of Colombian flags in the grandstands.

"It would be nice to be very competitive there," said Montoya. "That is one of the races that I have not won that I would really love to win.

"As I won the Indy 500, to have the two wins in Indianapolis would be really special."

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Kimi Raikkonen
Author Alan Baldwin
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