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Last Updated: Monday, 13 March 2006, 21:40 GMT
McLaren hoping to keep Raikkonen
Malaysian Grand Prix, 19 March. Start: 0700 GMT

Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen on the podium at the Bahrain Grand Prix
Will Alonso (left) and Raikkonen be team-mates in 2007?
McLaren hope to persuade Kimi Raikkonen to stay on to partner world champion Fernando Alonso in the team next year.

There are rumours Raikkonen already has an agreement with Ferrari for 2007.

But McLaren managing director Martin Whitmarsh told Autosport magazine: "We have made no particular secret of the fact that we want Kimi to stay with us.

"We have got one champion in the car next year and it would be nice to have a second with Kimi taking the title and being in the car alongside Fernando."

Whitmarsh said he hoped the reliability problems McLaren had suffered in the first race of the season would not affect Raikkonen's decision.

The Finn started from the back of the grid following a suspension failure in qualifying, but climbed through the field impressively to finish third behind Alonso and Ferrari's Michael Schumacher.

Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren suffers suspension failure in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix
Raikkonen started at the back of the grid after this crash in Bahrain
Raikkonen's title challenge was thwarted last year by a series of reliability problems, which ended his hopes of catching Alonso.

Whitmarsh said: "Regardless of Kimi, our primary motivation is to win a world championship. That is what we're here to do, and you need a reliable car and a quick car to do that.

"Kimi and his management will do what they feel is right for them.

"We would be very happy [if Raikkonen stayed], but at the same time you cannot do anything about that. You can only go out and win races. "

Whitmarsh denied that McLaren's problems at the season-opening race on Sunday increased the pressure on the team.

"The whole team are working hard," he said, "and for our own egos and motivation we are bitterly disappointed when we let ourselves down like with what happened in qualifying."

McLaren's other driver this year is Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, who finished fifth in Bahrain despite suffering a down-on-power engine.

His contract, like Raikkonen's, expires at the end of the season and Montoya has already said he is considering a move to another team.


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