Another setback for Raikkonen

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Fernando Alonso took to the track with his new world title but for Kimi Raikkonen it was an old problem in Friday's practice for the Japanese GP.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:51 IST
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Fernando Alonso took to the track with his new world title but for Kimi Raikkonen it was an old problem with his McLaren in Friday's first practice for the Japanese Grand Prix. Renault's Alonso has already clinched the driver's championship and Raikkonen is safely in second place no matter what happens in the final two races. Penalized for engine change However, Raikkonen's chance for another race victory - he's tied with Alonso at six-all for the season - was set back when his car came to a smokey halt just eight laps into practice. An engine change would penalize him 10 spots on the starting grid. But Raikkonen is used to it. Three times this year he has been penalized - once while having the fastest time in qualifying. Three other times he has been leading a race before his car failed, once on the last lap. Despite all that, he pressured Alonso throughout the season. Alonso had the sixth fastest time in Friday's opening session, touring the 5.807-kilometer (3.609-mile) Suzuka circuit in 1 minute, 32.370 seconds. That was just behind McLaren's other driver, Juan Pablo Montoya, who did 1:32.321. McLaren's test driver Pedro de la Rosa had the top time, 1;30.532, with Toyota's test driver, Ricardo Zonta, second at 1:31.075. Button leads Jenson Button was the top race driver, in third place with 1:32.043 in his BAR-Honda. He was ahead of Red Bull's David Coulthard, 1:32.229. There was another practice later Friday with qualifying on Saturday. Sunday's race is 53 laps. Renault and McLaren are contending for the constructor's championship. McLaren took the lead in the constructors' championship for the first time this season with a 1-2 finish at Brazil. The constructors' championship is important because it determines the amount of money each team receives from Formula One's governing body at the end of the season. Eyes on title McLaren, an eight-time champion, is aiming for its first title since 1998, while Renault has yet to win the title. Ferrari, which won the past six titles, is third with 98 points, 17 ahead of fourth-place Toyota. Michael Schumacher was just 18th in the first session, doing 1:33.686. The 2004 Japanese Grand Prix also was Schumacher's last victory against a full field, winning en route to his fifth straight Formula One title with Ferrari and seventh overall. Since then, he has won only the United States Grand Prix in June when the Renaults, McLarens and five other teams chose not to race because of safety concerns of the Michelin tires. (AP)

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