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No Williams-McLaren pact at Suzuka

London, Oct. 4 (Reuters): Williams will not assist McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen in next week’s Formula One title showdown with Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher, says technical director Patrick Head.

“You know team orders are banned this year,” Head told BBC radio when it was suggested that Williams might prefer to see Raikkonen as champion. “So we would never do anything like that.”

The two teams courted controversy in 1997 when they were accused of collusion after the title-deciding European Grand Prix. Canadian Jacques Villeneuve won the title for Williams and, needing only third place to be champion after Schumacher had gone out, allowed McLaren’s Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard to pass him at the finish.

Schumacher leads Raikkonen by nine points and needs just one point from the Japanese Grand Prix to take a record sixth championship.

The German told reporters on Friday that he did not expect Williams and McLaren to gang up against Ferrari at Suzuka. “I don’t think that Williams and McLaren will work together against us as they have different objectives: Williams want the Constructors’ title and McLaren the Drivers’,” he told the Ferrari website. “And we want both.”

Williams, who have Schumacher’s younger brother Ralf as teammate to Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, need all the help they can get to overhaul Ferrari’s three-point lead in the Constructors’ championship.

Head was confident his team could fight back: “There are 18 points on the table for first and second so three points is not that big a gap,” he said. “I think we are in a reasonably strong position, we’ve got some developments available for the car but then I’m sure Ferrari are in the same position.

“The Ferrari is normally extremely reliable, or Michael’s car is anyway. But then we’ve been so far quite reliable as well, so I think all is on the table to go for in terms of the Constructors’ championship.”

Schumacher won the last US Grand Prix while the same race ended Montoya’s championship hopes. “Certainly Michael’s very quick, particularly in the difficult bit that’s called sector one, which is a combination of fast left-right corners which feed into each other,” said Head of the German’s expertise at Suzuka.

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