Ferrari slashed McLaren-Mercedes’ lead in the drivers and constructors world championship standings when Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard failed to finish at Barcelona on Sunday.

Ferrari slashed McLaren-Mercedes’ lead in the drivers and constructors world championship standings when Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard failed to finish at Barcelona on Sunday.

Raikkonen’s race ended a couple of seconds after the start of the race when he hit the back of Antonio Pizzonia’s Jaguar - which had stalled on the grid. The right front of the Finn’s McLaren was smashed, causing the safety car to be deployed for five laps.

Raikkonen had started from the back of the grid after failing to set a qualifying time in Saturday’s session and was ready to fight his way through the pack to add more points to his championship-leading tally. Instead, the 23-year-old is now just four points ahead of world champion Michael Schumacher on the leaderboard.

"A terrible and very short race for me. I got off the line quickly and was beside one of the Minardis when all of a sudden there was nowhere to go but into the back of the stationary Pizzonia," the Finn said. "It (the smash) can happen when you start from the back."

Team-mate David Coulthard’s race may have lasted longer, but his day was equally disastrous. At the start, the Scot tangled with Renault’s Jarno Trulli at the first corner causing him to go off track.

After pitting he resumed the race, albeit at the back of the pack, and was charging past the slower runners when he spun off on lap 17 after colliding with Jenson Button’s BAR.

Coulthard said: "I made a good start, passed a lot of cars and gained more positions after the first corner. Obviously I knew it was going to get messy through turn two as it was getting a bit close and as a result I tried to give as much space to the car in front as possible, but unfortunately Jarno ran into the back of me.

"I had to pit but there was some damage to the floor, which made the car difficult to drive, but I still thought it would be possible to get some points until Jenson and I came together.

"I need to look at the TV footage to establish what happened. Today's result is not good but that is motor racing and we will take it on the chin and bounce back at the next race," he added.

The McLaren team now finds itself just three points ahead of Ferrari in the constructors championship.

Team boss Ron Dennis said: "Overall a disappointing weekend but we still lead both world championship tables. We will now put this difficult weekend behind us and look to the future."