San Marino GP: McLaren preview

The 2005 San Marino Grand Prix marks the start of the European Formula One season, following the exciting first three flyaway races. Kimi Raikkonen will be joined at Imola by Alex Wurz, who will be competing in his first Grand Prix since the ...

The 2005 San Marino Grand Prix marks the start of the European Formula One season, following the exciting first three flyaway races.

Kimi Raikkonen will be joined at Imola by Alex Wurz, who will be competing in his first Grand Prix since the Malaysian race at the end of the 2000 season. The Austrian will be racing the MP4-20 for the first time as Juan Pablo Montoya is still recovering from the shoulder injury sustained during the Easter weekend.

After resting his shoulder for three weeks, the Colombian has undergone a number of tests and scans this week, following which the medical experts have advised that it is still too soon for Juan Pablo to return to the MP4-20 cockpit.

The healing process is well advanced but the need to keep the shoulder immobilised has naturally led to some minor muscle atrophy. Having evaluated the progress of the healing process today, the team and Juan Pablo expect that he will be back in action at the Spanish Grand Prix on 8th May 2005.

Pedro de la Rosa, who took over from Juan Pablo in Bahrain, will be taking the wheel of the West McLaren Mercedes team's third car during Friday's Free Practice sessions at Imola and in Spain. The driver allocation for the third car for the remainder of the 2005 season will be reviewed by the team after the Spanish Grand Prix.

Kimi Raikkonen:

"The Imola track is fairly technical and can be tough on the cars, which means the car needs to be very well set up. One of the main factors you need to consider in this are the high kerbs. You need to keep the car fairly soft so it rides well over the kerbs without affecting high speed stability or ability to change direction well through the chicanes. To make sure the car is quick through the slower corners, we use a fairly high level of downforce."

"There will also be much lower temperatures at the San Marino race, which should make conditions a bit easier. It was a positive result for the team in Bahrain and we are aiming to put more points on the board in Imola. Again I would like to pass on my best wishes to Juan Pablo, I hope he is fully recovered from his injuries soon, and all the best to Alex."

Alex Wurz:

"I am really happy to have the opportunity to race MP4-20 this coming weekend at Imola. Since joining the team at the end of 2000, I have completed over 70,000 testing kilometres and it will be great to have the chance to actually race a West McLaren Mercedes car. I am looking forward to getting back to competitive action and hope I can secure a good result for the team."

"The Imola circuit is all about braking hard and accelerating, with all the chicanes and short straights, which means traction, braking performance and stability under braking are all key. To get a good lap, you need to be aggressive and really attack the kerbs. It goes without saying that I wish Juan Pablo a very speedy recovery."

Pedro de la Rosa:

"Although I would of course rather be racing again, after such an exciting Bahrain Grand Prix, I am pleased for Alex that he is also having a chance. We had a productive couple of test sessions building up to this race, completing over 4700 kms overall at the Circuit de Catalunya and Paul Ricard. Our schedule focused on testing various modifications prior to the Grand Prix and also tyre selection with Michelin and damper work."

Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula One, West McLaren Mercedes:

"It is disappointing that Juan Pablo is not yet fully recovered from the injury he sustained to his shoulder on 26th March, however it is imperative that his shoulder heals properly to ensure no additional risk. We will assess the situation again next week but at this stage we are optimistic he will return for the Spanish Grand Prix as the shoulder is healing well."

"As Alex is now fully comfortable in the MP4-20, we have taken the decision that he will deputise for Juan Pablo at Imola. We are in the fortunate position of having two very experienced and very competitive drivers in Alex and Pedro. In addition they are both good guys and great team players and we felt it appropriate and fair to provide them both with the opportunity to race."

Norbert Haug, Vice-president Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:

"Juan Pablo will have to miss the San Marino Grand Prix as he still has to recover from his shoulder injury, which is taking longer than initially predicted. I am convinced that Alex will do a competent job. He really deserves this race, and he will have our full support."

"Alex has covered more than 1700 kilometres in the MP4-20 since he first ran the car during Friday's free practices at Bahrain. He and Kimi will be efficiently supported by Pedro who will be our third driver to drive the MP4-20 on Friday."

"Obviously the conditions at Imola will be very different from the last race at Bahrain as the ambient and track temperatures will be much lower. However the nature of the circuit, which features a combination of high speed sections interrupted by tight chicanes with high kerbs and slow corners, makes it hard on brakes and heavy on fuel consumption."

"With the grip level rather low tyre wear should not be a problem with our partner Michelin doing a very competent job by providing us with tyres that were very competitive in extreme conditions in the last two Grands Prix. The Imola circuit is comparatively fast with average lap speeds exceeding 220 kph and more than 60 per cent of a lap are run under full throttle."

-mclaren-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Pedro de la Rosa , Kimi Raikkonen , Alexander Wurz , Norbert Haug , Martin Whitmarsh
Teams Mercedes , McLaren