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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 January, 2005, 09:56 GMT
Bum steer for 'naive' Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen
Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen is used to making headlines with his antics on various laps around the world.

But it was lapdancing which turned the faces of officials from his McLaren-Mercedes team a Ferrari shade of red at their new car launch.

On Sunday, newspapers in Britain and his Finnish homeland alleged the driver stunned onlookers at a London club by cavorting with a lapdancer before launching into his own strip show.

Club manager UJ was quoted as saying: "It doesn't matter how famous he is, it doesn't excuse his shocking behaviour."

Whatever the truth of the incident, at a Mayfair venue called For Your Eyes Only, it left team bosses a little shaken and stirred.

As the MP4-20 car was unveiled in Barcelona, chief executive Martin Whitmarsh hoped to concentrate on the driving strengths of Raikkonen and team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya.

But Whitmarsh had to admit that Raikkonen may have been naive.

"He's learning that as a reputation starts to develop, you've got to be ultra-sensitive about having fun in a public place," said Whitmarsh.

But the 25-year-old Raikkonen, nicknamed Ice Man for his calm behind the wheel, did not lose his cool.

"I know where you are trying to go now but it doesn't make me any slower," he said.

"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.

"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."

In 2004, Raikkonen was dogged by reports of drunken behaviour at a nightclub in the Canary Islands.

We'll take whatever steps to ensure Kimi understands the seriousness of the situation
Team boss Martin Whitmarsh
Whitmarsh said: "I'm aware of the media coverage that Kimi received over the course of the weekend.

"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.

"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."

Raikkonen gave McLaren their only win of 2004 at the Belgian Grand Prix, although Whitmarsh hinted he could be disciplined over the latest incident.

"We'll look at the information that we've got and if we need we believe to enforce some discipline, then we'll do so," he said.

When the new season starts, he may well hope Raikkonen concentrates on gaining a pole position. Then again...


SEE ALSO
McLaren unveil Ferrari challenger
24 Jan 05 |  Formula One



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