Spanish GP: McLaren preview

2002 SPANISH GRAND PRIX PREVIEW Round five of the 2002 FIA Formula One World Championship, the Spanish Grand Prix, takes place at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya this weekend. The West McLaren Mercedes team heads to Spain looking to...

2002 SPANISH GRAND PRIX PREVIEW

Round five of the 2002 FIA Formula One World Championship, the Spanish Grand Prix, takes place at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya this weekend. The West McLaren Mercedes team heads to Spain looking to strengthen the third position currently held in the Constructors' Championship at the event, which is historically successful for the team.

Since the San Marino Grand Prix, David Coulthard, Kimi Raikkonen and Alex Wurz have been testing at the Mugello track in Italy. The West McLaren Mercedes team was joined on Tuesday by Mercedes-Benz DTM driver Jean Alesi, who took the wheel of an MP4-17 alongside Alex, with David and Kimi completing the session on Wednesday and Thursday.

The inaugural Spanish Grand Prix took place in 1951 at the Pedrables circuit. Since then the event has been a sporadic fixture on the calendar, held at a number of locations including Jarama and Monjuich Park, until 1986 when it returned on a permanent basis. Located approximately 30 minutes drive from the centre of Barcelona, the purpose built Circuit de Catalunya has hosted the Spanish Grand Prix since 1991.

The West McLaren Mercedes team has secured victory in three of the last four Spanish Grands Prix, with Mika Hakkinen and David taking consecutive one-twos.

DAVID COULTHARD

"The Circuit de Catalunya is always interesting to drive as it offers varied challenges, with a good combination of fast, sweeping curves and slow tight corners. The pit straight is one of the longest on the calendar, and with a slow right corner at the end it provides a good overtaking opportunity. There's no denying it was a disappointing weekend at Imola, however the West McLaren Mercedes team has been working hard at Mugello and we are now looking forward to the Spanish Grand Prix."

KIMI RAIKKONEN

"The West McLaren Mercedes team has conducted a lot of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya this year and consequently the drivers, engineers and mechanics know the track well, which will help us to optimise the set-up for the Grand Prix. I finished just out of the top six last year and am looking to improve on that position in 2002, and add to my points tally for the season."

MARTIN WHITMARSH, MANAGING DIRECTOR, McLAREN INTERNATIONAL

"Our performance at Imola demonstrated that the West McLaren Mercedes team has significant work to do to ensure we move in the right direction. However, the team has the dedication and drive to achieve this progression, and will continue to work hard between races to maximise the development of the entire MP4-17 package."

NORBERT HAUG, VICE-PRESIDENT, MERCEDES-BENZ MOTORSPORT

"After the San Marino Grand Prix, our team has worked very hard to regain competitiveness in the next few races. For the first time this year we tested at Mugello, which like Barcelona is a very demanding and selective circuit for both the chassis and engine. From Tuesday to Thursday of last week, David, Kimi, Alex and Jean Alesi ran through an intensive test programme. The four drivers, in two chassis, ran 1242 miles / 2000 km during the three days."

Lap of the Cirucit de Catalunya, Alex Wurz, West McLaren Mercedes third driver

Accelerating downhill along the start-finish straight you hit 190mph/310kph in seventh gear before braking hard for the right-hander of Elf corner, which acts as a funnel at the start of the race and is often the site of first lap incidents. You can hit up to 4.8G under braking as your speed reduces to 86mph/138kph in second gear. The second corner, the uphill left flick of Elf at 118mph/189kph is in third and flat out in qualifying.

This is immediately followed by the long demanding sweep of Renault, powering through the 180-degree right hander you reach 170mph/273kph on the exit. You continue to push hard on the throttle for the short straight that leads to Repsol, reaching some 180mph/ 290kph in sixth gear before braking hard for the tricky right hander. You enter Repsol in second gear at 85mph/137kph, increasing your speed as you are swung round the right curve, exiting at 155mph/252kph. A short burst of acceleration takes you down to the Seat hairpin.

Hard on the brakes the track drops as you negotiate the tight left-hander at 60mph/97kph in second gear. Accelerating out of Seat, the track sweeps through a gentle left curve reaching 160mph/272kph in fifth gear before once again braking hard for the difficult left of W

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jean Alesi , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen , Kimi Raikkonen , Alexander Wurz
Teams Mercedes , McLaren