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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 July, 2004, 14:57 GMT 15:57 UK
Raikkonen defends go-slow
By Andrew Benson
Motorsport editor at Silverstone

Kimi Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen has defended F1 teams for deliberately going slowly in pre-qualifying for the British Grand Prix.

There were claims that the actions of the teams deprived spectators of good value for money at Silverstone.

But McLaren's pole-winner Raikkonen said: "The teams are not too worried if it's good for the spectators.

"We are trying to do the best we can and unfortunately it's not always the best thing for the spectators. We can do what we want."

A number of drivers deliberately slowed on their pre-qualifying laps, which determine the order in which they run in qualifying, to ensure they missed a forecast rain shower.

Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello, who will line up second behind Raikkonen in the race, admitted that he had deliberately slowed on his pre-qualifying lap.

The Brazilian ran wide at Vale halfway round the lap, making his strategic move look like a driving error.

Rubens Barrichello
Instead of talking about this, we should look at making the format better
Rubens Barrichello

Others were less subtle, deliberately slowing their cars as they came out of the last corner until the required amount of time had elapsed.

Barrichello said: "That is the result of the qualifying format.

"There are times when you might go faster by running first in qualifying [rather than later as is more usual], so you have to be selfish.

"We had a plan to slow down, but what's the point of showing people that you are going slower going up to the line? At least we did it in a good way.

"But instead of talking about this, we should look at making the format better."

Meanwhile, BAR boss David Richards played it straight, telling his drivers Jenson Button and Takumo Sato to give it their all in pre-qualifying.

Richards was in constant contact with members of his team in overhead helicopters who predicted the rain would miss the Silverstone circuit.

"We knew it was going to pass to the north," Richards said. "We said we would do a normal qualification with normal fuel and it paid off exactly as we expected."

Raikkonen rejected claims that the drivers who slowed should be penalised.

"How can you judge who was [deliberately] slow?" he said.

"I was two-three seconds off the pace [in pre-qualifying], but that doesn't necessarily mean I was [deliberately] slow.

"The rules are not really clear, so how can you penalise people for this?"

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has been trying to change the current format of qualifying, which he says is boring.

But the teams did a U-turn a week ago on an agreement to switch to two 25-minute sessions and aggregate times.

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