Raikkonen Defensive after Nightclub Allegations

Kimi Raikkonen has reassured McLaren that he is fully focused on the Formula One team despite lurid media reports about his alleged indiscretions in a lap-dancing club.

Raikkonen Defensive after Nightclub Allegations

Kimi Raikkonen has reassured McLaren that he is fully focused on the Formula One team despite lurid media reports about his alleged indiscretions in a lap-dancing club.

Newspapers in Britain and Finland alleged at the weekend that the Finn was thrown out of the London club after a night of heavy drinking and the reports clouded the test debut of McLaren's 2005 car on Monday.

"I know where you are trying to go now but it doesn't make me any slower," said the 25-year-old Finn when asked about his attitude at the Circuit de Catalunya.

"It's my private life so what I do in the car is completely different because I am for sure giving everything that I can to the team," he added. "It's part of life. You cannot always believe all the things in the newspaper. It's not the first time for me and you just get used to it after a while."

Last year Raikkonen was also dogged by reports of drunken behaviour at a nightclub in the Canary Islands and he could now be disciplined by the team.

"I'm aware of the media coverage that Kimi received over the course of the weekend," said McLaren F1 chief executive Martin Whitmarsh. "Certainly that's not a welcome thing, either for Kimi or the team.

"Even if they (the reports) are not entirely true, the perception is extremely negative and that's something that we have to take seriously," he added.

Ice Man

"We've got a whole range of multi-national brands that are associated with our team and they don't invest in Formula One for this sort of imagery," said Whitmarsh. "We'll take whatever steps to ensure that Kimi understands the seriousness of the situation.

"I think he does and perhaps there was a touch of naivete about what happened here and he's learning that as a reputation starts to develop, you've got to be ultra-sensitive about having fun in a public place."

Raikkonen, overall runner-up to Ferrari's Michael Schumacher in 2003, gave McLaren their only win of 2004 at the Belgian Grand Prix.

The reports of his private life contrasted with a public image as Formula One's 'Ice Man', an impassive racer in contrast to fiery Colombian team mate Juan Pablo Montoya. Whitmarsh said the team had spoken to Raikkonen but the new car was their main concern.

"Once we've taken ourselves away from that focus, we'll look at the information that we've got and if we believe we need to enforce some discipline then we'll do so," he said.

"But we've got to separate Kimi's private life from what he's doing here at the circuit and we also have to separate the truth from the various stories that are being carried at the moment."

Team boss Ron Dennis said the team would not be washing any dirty linen in public.

"Clearly it would be easier for me if I hadn't to deal with these issues but they are issues which I am fully capable of handling," he told reporters in Barcelona. "But I will handle them within the team."

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