MELBOURNE -- There was no hiding the
disappointment in the McLaren garage after the team's dismal
performance at Sunday's season-opening Australian Formula One
Last year's championship runner-up Kimi Raikkonen was the
first casualty of the new season when he retired on the 10th lap
with engine failure, while teammate David Coulthard could only
manage eighth place a year after winning the race.
The two silver arrows were noticeably off the pace all
weekend, qualifying 10th and 12th on the grid, and McLaren boss
Ron Dennis said it was clear the team had some catching up to
"To say it was a difficult weekend for the team would be
somewhat of an understatement," Dennis said.
"But it's early in the season and we know what our
weaknesses are so they'll be addressed as speedily as possible."
Raikkonen could not have made a more miserable start to his
bid to end Michael Schumacher's reign as world champion.
The flying Finn dropped a couple of places after a slow
start from 12th on the grid, then made the long walk back to the
pits when a loss of water pressure abruptly ended his race.
"The car felt good but unfortunately it didn't last very
long and I retired with an engine failure -- definitely not the
best way to start the season," he said.
"I'm very disappointed with our performance this weekend but
hopefully we can do better in the next race."
Coulthard won last year's Australian Grand Prix after
starting on the middle of the grid but there was no repeat of
He managed to climb as high as fifth when the leaders took
their first round of pit stops but had to settle for eighth and
a single world championship point.
"It has really been an unsatisfying weekend for us and the
one point we achieved today is a very small consolation," the
"I made a good start and gained a few places but eighth was
all we could do.
"We are not where we want to be, but we will work very hard
on getting there and hopefully should be able to improve for the
Malaysian Grand Prix in a few weeks."
Coulthard: Team must improve in every area
David Coulthard has told
McLaren they must improve in every area if he and Kimi Raikkonen
are to have the tools to take on Formula One champions Ferrari.
"The reality check is a race weekend so there is nowhere to
hide from that," said the Scot who finished Sunday's
season-opening Australian Grand Prix in eighth place after
winning it last year.
While Michael Schumacher romped
to a dominant one-two win ahead of Brazilian teammate Rubens
Barrichello, Raikkonen was sidelined after nine laps with an
"We just need to go on with the hard work of making
improvements," said Coulthard, whose 13 wins make him the most
successful driver currently in Formula One after the
"The next question is where do we need to improve and that's
quite simply in every area."
The Scot said McLaren should do better in the next race in
Malaysia, where Finland's Raikkonen claimed the first win of his
Formula One career last year before ending the season as overall
runner-up to Schumacher.
"I like Malaysia, it's a fast challenging track and an
enjoyable place to be. I think we'll be more competitive there
but its going to be a few races before we take the big step
forward," said Coulthard.
"We can improve for the next race because we have another
front wing that we tried a little bit in Imola."
"We'll be a bit more competitive but clearly there's still a
lot of work to be done on car and engine," said Coulthard, in
his ninth season at McLaren but due to make way for Colombian
Juan Pablo Montoya next year.
"We're not going to bury our heads in the sand and not want
to see the reality.
"Now we have this first grand prix we can accurately break
down where the performance loss is ... I'm not out there feeling
very confident because the car is tricky to position," added
"We don't really have the confidence to take that leap of
faith that you need. You've got to throw a car into a corner and
believe that you'll wrestle it through. Otherwise you won't do
the lap time."
Coulthard struggled to sound optimistic as he complimented
Ferrari on their performance.
"They've kept a low profile during the winter, they've
worked away on the car and they've come here with a strong
package. That is the benchmark which we all have to try and
achieve," he said.
"I need to finish another 10 times in that place (eighth) to
get as many points as Michael picked up today. It's going to be
difficult to build a serious championship campaign on that."