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McLaren Mercedes driver David Coulthard finished sixth in today's 53 lap Italian Grand Prix at Monza. David went to the grid on intermediate tyres, but following the installation lap he came into the pits for dry weather tyres. As a result David started from the pitlane which allowed the team to refuel and thereby change his strategy. David had his one pitstop at the end of lap 26 (12.1 seconds). Kimi Raikkonen was forced to retire at the end of lap 13 as his engine had started to lose water pressure due to a leak already on lap two. Kimi remains seventh in the Driver's World Championship with 28 points whilst David is eighth with 24. The McLaren Mercedes team is fifth in the Constructors' ranking with 52 points.
"Considering the circumstances, we have to be relatively satisfied with sixth place," said Coulthard. "Based on my experience from last week's test I thought it would still be damp in the forest section of the track and decided to start the race on intermediates as did Rubens. However it already became clear on the installation lap that dry weather tyres were the right choice and I went into the pits to change. As a result the team changed my strategy to a one stop. Towards the end of the race Pizzonia hit me from the back whilst he was trying to overtake me under braking. To be honest I was ready for it as I knew he would try something like that and managed to keep the car on the track and salvage three points."
Raikkonen added, "I think we could have been in a strong position for a podium finish today. However it was not to be, as after only two laps it became clear that my engine was losing water pressure. It was a shame as I made a good start and gained a few places. Things were looking good and this is not the way I would have liked to finish the European season, but at least we now have the pace to fight for victories."
Team chief Ron Dennis commented, "A frustrating end to the weekend. It was a race several people could have won and Kimi was one of them. However we were quickly out of contention after Kimi's engine suffered a water leak which ultimately damaged the engine. David's race was hampered by tyre choice, but he managed to get sixth. At the end of the day we are here to win, so a disappointing result of the Italian Grand Prix for us."
Mercedes motorsport chief Norbert Haug concluded, "It's a shame for Kimi to retire as he had the speed for a podium position today. His retirement was due to a water leak we detected on lap two which led to engine damage, the reason for which we are still investigating. We changed David's strategy when he went into the pits before the start of the race for dry weather tyres, and we took the opportunity to put additional fuel in the car, so he only had to come in once more, and sixth place was a good result for him taking into account his delayed start."
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