Raikkonen: my car was perfect

Kimi Raikkonen reckoned that his McLaren was perfectly set-up for the Nurburginr circuit, after setting the fastest time in the first qualifying session for this weekend's European Grand Prix

Raikkonen: my car was perfect

Putting aside worries over the new MP4-18, the Finn showed that there is plenty of life left in the team's modified 2002 machine, outpacing world champion Michael Schumacher by 0.364s to claim the top spot.

"The car has been perfect all day and we improved it even more for qualifying so I'm very pleased," said Raikkonen. "The whole lap was pretty good and I made no mistakes. There is no doubt that the MP4-17D is quick, but it's a matter of making the parts work together and for me not to make any mistakes and then we are there. I look forward to the rest of the weekend."

For Mercedes motorsport chief Norbert Haug the result was especially welcome, given the team's poor form in first qualifying for much of the season.

"We haven't been Friday qualifying specialists so far this year, which makes the fact that Kimi was fastest today and the only one who achieved a time under 1m30s very pleasing," said Haug.

Raikkonen's team-mate, David Coulthard, could only set the sixth fastest time, and was distinctly nonplussed afterwards. "The goal for today really is to be in the same group as our main opposition," he said. "There is nothing particular to say about the run, as my plan was to do a safe lap without pushing too hard."

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