Pacific GP McLaren preview

Race Preview Pacific Grand Prix 20th - 22nd October The forthcoming Pacific Grand Prix, to be held at the 3.703km-long TI Circuit in Aida,...

Race Preview Pacific Grand Prix 20th - 22nd October The forthcoming Pacific Grand Prix, to be held at the 3.703km-long TI Circuit in Aida, Japan, was originally scheduled to take place on 16th April. But the Kobe earthquake back in January caused so much damage to the local road infrastructure that the event was postponed to coincide with the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, which is due next week. This means that the Formula One teams are facing the mammoth task of shipping the cars off to two back-to-back races in Japan before moving on to Australia for the final Grand Prix on 12th November.

The Marlboro McLaren Mercedes team starts its Australasian campaign with the unexpected news that Mika Hakkinen will miss the Pacific Grand Prix and be replaced by Danish driver Jan Magnussen alongside Mark Blundell. The unfortunate Finn complained of an acute stomach ache on Saturday preceding the race weekend and within hours found himself on the operating table for an appendectomy. He is now recovering at his Monte-Carlo home, but will unfortunately not be fit to drive in Aida.

This presents test driver Jan Magnussen with the daunting task of making his Formula One race debut at very short notice on an unknown track and in unfamiliar surroundings. But the 22 year old Dane is relishing the opportunity to compete alongside the Formula One stars. "These are not the best circumstances to start a Formula One career, and I feel really sorry for Mika," commented Jan. "But I am delighted to get this opportunity to race for Marlboro McLaren Mercedes and I am looking forward to joining the Formula One tour."

Jan will be supported by the whole of Denmark, which has not had a Formula One driver among its five million citizens since Tom Belso in 1974. Belso, then driving for Frank Williams Racing, only recorded two Grand Prix starts and no championship points, so the country is eager for Formula One action. "It will be a responsibility to represent Denmark in Formula One," continued Jan. "This weekend will be very special to me."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Mika Hakkinen , Jan Magnussen , Frank Williams
Teams Mercedes , McLaren , Williams