McLaren ready for new
March 3, 2004
As the FIA Formula One World Championship gears up for another
exciting season, which will see revised technical and sporting
regulations and inaugural events in Bahrain and China, the West
McLaren Mercedes team arrives in Melbourne for the first race of the
year, the 2004 Australian Grand Prix.
The event marks the start of David Coulthard's ninth and Kimi
Raikkonen's third seasons with the team, the 150th Grand Prix of the
McLaren and Mercedes-Benz relationship, which is entering its tenth
season, and sees the race debut of the new West McLaren Mercedes
"The first race of the season is always particularly exciting as it
allows us to run the car we have been intensively developing and
testing over the winter in a competitive environment. Although we have
been running the MP4-19 since late November last year, it is difficult
to make any true predictions with regards performance until Melbourne,
but obviously we are hoping for a repeat of last year's result, which
was my second victory at the race.
It is always great to get back to racing, and where better than
Melbourne. The Australian Grand Prix is a firm favourite with all the
teams and the local fans are always very passionate and appreciative
and help to create the carnival atmosphere that surrounds the event.
The 3.295 mile / 5.303km Albert Park street circuit, which is fairly
long by modern standards, is pretty smooth and flowing, with a good
combination of fast corners, sweeping curves and tight hairpins. The
track can be hard on brakes and tyres and demands a high downforce
configuration. Perhaps the best opportunity for overtaking is through
the fast left flick of turn 11."
"I am of course very much looking forward to the Australian Grand Prix
and the start of the new Formula One season. Obviously this year we
have a number of changes to the regulations, on the sporting side
perhaps the main one is one combined qualifying session on Saturday
afternoon rather than one on both Friday and Saturday. This should
help running at Albert Park during qualifying, because as it is a
street circuit we often have to contend with a dirty surface on the
first day of running. However hopefully this will not have too much of
an affect this year as the dirt is usually cleared on the Friday.
Also the speed limit in the pit lane is increased and teams that
finished outside the top four in last year's Championship can run a
third car in Friday Free Practice, it will be interesting to see how
they all work in Australia. From what we have seen of the testing that
has been taking place in the build-up to the season, the signs are
that we will have another exciting Championship. I think it will
continue to be very competitive and hopefully enjoyable for the fans
to watch. I had my debut Formula One victory in Malaysia last year,
and my first aim for 2004 is to better that figure, after that who
MARTIN WHITMARSH, MANAGING DIRECTOR
"The Australian Grand Prix will mark the race debut of the MP4- 19,
the design process of which was heavily influenced by a number of the
new FIA Formula One technical regulations. Perhaps the most
fundamental is the single engine rule, which limits each driver to one
engine per race weekend. We also see the rear wings restricted to a
maximum of two horizontal elements and an increased engine cover size
for the 2004 season.
The MP4-19 had its first shakedown on November 25th 2003, which was
the earliest we have ever run a new car. This has enabled us to
conduct a substantial test programme, completing some 14,500 kms over
32 days at various circuits in Europe.
The team is now looking forward to running the car in a competitive
environment in Australia, and getting back to the main focus of all
our hard work, the challenge for both the Constructors' and Drivers'
World Championships. The race also marks a significant milestone in
our relationship with Mercedes-Benz, as it will be our 150th Grand
Prix start. There has been a modification to the Albert Park track,
which is likely to be an influencing factor, as the pit-lane entry has
been straightened and therefore shortened. When you also take into
consideration the increased speed limit in the pit-lane of 100km/h for
2004, this should lead to some interesting strategies over the race
NORBERT HAUG, VICE PRESIDENT, MERCEDES-BENZ MOTORSPORT
"Everybody in the team, at Mercedes-Ilmor in Brixworth, Mercedes- Benz
in Stuttgart and McLaren Racing in Woking has worked extremely hard
over the winter to be prepared for the start of the year in Melbourne.
This year marks the tenth joint World Championship season of our
partnership with McLaren. Since we have started our test programme on
25th November 2003 we have covered more than 14,000 kilometres with
the MP4-19, which is even more than we have done the years before.
About 60 per cent of a lap in Melbourne's Albert Park is run under
full throttle." Press release McLaren Mercedes
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