McLaren Mercedes head to the streets of Valencia next week chasing their fourth straight Grand Prix win and aiming to close the 11 point gap to rivals Ferrari. Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice President Norbert Haug look ahead to the inaugural event.
The European Grand Prix will be held on a new street circuit; a new challenge after Silverstone, Hockenheim and Budapest. Will a fourth consecutive win be possible? "Lewis, Heikki and the entire team performed excellently achieving three race wins in a row. Since the beginning of the previous season, we have won 13 out of 28 races and if possible, we want to improve this success rate. However, the maiden race in Valencia will be a new game for everybody."
The Grand Prix in Valencia is a new street race. What do we have to expect there? "When you think about temporary street races in Formula One, you mainly think about Monaco. However, Valencia does not have very much in common with this classic race; just that both cities are located on the Mediterranean coast and that both circuits lead along the harbor front. While the Monte Carlo race is the slowest of the year with an average speed of about 156km/h for the fastest lap, and is also the shortest with a race distance of almost 254km, we face a race distance of 310 km in Valencia and a track on which the cars will reach 300km/h or more five times per lap."
"Three times per lap the drivers also have to brake to about 80km/h which will be as extremely demanding for the brakes as the Montreal circuit.
The longest full throttle section will be along the harbor where the drivers will drive at full throttle for 13 sec. The front straight is 185 meters long and the shortest of all Formula One circuits this year. We calculated an average speed per lap of 225km/h which will be the eighth fastest of all Grand Prix tracks. This is not typical for a street race; it is more like a version of Silverstone or Monza but located in a city."
How do the engine technicians prepare for a new circuit like Valencia, for which there is no firm data so far? "Our technicians at Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines in Brixworth and Stuttgart work out the circuit simulation data together with our partner McLaren Racing and use them for the engine dyno simulation. The work on the dyno is based on calculated gear ratios, revs and gear changes. According to that we find the optimum engine response and we also optimize the calibration accordingly to match the demands of the Valencia circuit as well as requirements of our drivers. This preparation is particularly important for a new circuit, for which we don’t have data from testing or races - in the end, it can be crucial to tackle qualifying and race in the best possible shape."
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