While Formula One is in the quiet season there's little activity to report but McLaren has been attracting some attention recently. For once it's not Kimi Raikkonen or Juan Pablo Montoya in the spotlight but team tester Alex Wurz. The taller than average driver can't fit comfortably into the cockpit of the new MP4-20.
McLaren has designed the cockpit with the race drivers in mind; Raikkonen is a modest 1.75 metres tall and Montoya a rather smaller 1.68. At 1.82, Wurz towers over his teammates and indeed most of the pit lane. The team is looking into ways of modifying the car.
"I already know I won't fit into the first few cars that will be made but I can continue testing with the MP4-19B," said Wurz, according to ITV-F1. "I hope as soon as the team starts making more chassis for the test team they'll be able to build them with more space in the cockpit so that I can have the possibility to work on the development of the MP4-20."
On the subject of testing, McLaren will be eligible to run a third driver in the Friday sessions of race weekends in 2005, since it was not one of the top four teams at the end of this season. Some feel that this is unsporting as McLaren is a previous champion, but the FIA regulations permit it.
Meanwhile, McLaren denied that the team and title sponsor West would part company before the start of the 2005 season. Recent reports suggest that drinks company Diageo has agreed a deal for its Johnnie Walker whisky to sponsor McLaren. That may or may not be the case but for the moment West will remain.
Tobacco advertising bans in the EU come into force in July next year so McLaren will no longer be able to use the West branding from then on. However, a team spokesperson said the cars would appear in Melbourne complete with the West sponsorship.