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Ron hails ‘exceptional' Kimi

McLaren-Mercedes team boss Ron Dennis has praised Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen after he put himself on the front row of the grid for Sunday's inaugural Chinese Grand Prix. Despite a small mistake going into the final straight, the Finn was within two tenths of Rubens Barrichello's final pole time

David Coulthard failed to match the pace of his team-mate and made a mistake mid-way through his lap. The Scot will start the race from ninth following the demotion of BAR's Takuma Sato.

"Kimi's qualifying was exceptional whilst David's relatively small error in the middle sector lost him several places," Dennis said. "We feel that we have the right race strategy which coupled with our overall performance should put us in contention for a podium finish. I'm sure that along with all the other teams we hope that the race, irrespective of the outcome, is exciting, which would represent a small thank you for the fantastic facilities and support that the Chinese government have shown us."

Raikkonen has shone all weekend and is confident he's in a strong position to challenge for tomorrow's race win.

"The car has felt good right from the beginning of the weekend and I have really been able to push," he said. "The track conditions had changed a bit overnight, and we used the morning's two practice sessions to perfect the set-up and it worked.

"I made a small mistake on my qualifying lap coming onto the final straight, but I don't think it cost me enough time to have claimed pole position. The important thing is that our package and the Michelin tyres are working well, and as we have a good strategy for the race I'm sure we are in with a chance of winning."

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