ARGENTINE GRAND PRIX 1997 - REVIEW ================================== The West McLaren Mercedes team gained further World Championship points during the Argentine Grand Prix in Buenos Aires last...
ARGENTINE GRAND PRIX 1997 - REVIEW ==================================
The West McLaren Mercedes team gained further World Championship points during the Argentine Grand Prix in Buenos Aires last weekend, putting the team second in the Constructors' Championship - just one point behind Williams and five points ahead of the third place contender Ferrari.
The Buenos Aires circuit presented extensive challenges for all the teams, particularly the lack of grip, which saw both David and Mika encounter difficulties in setting up their cars. Taking into consideration the nature of the circuit and the ambient temperature decisions were made based on our predicted race day, rather than qualifying performance. Therefore, with a choice of two tyre compounds it was decided to run the harder of the pair, comprising our qualifying session for the optimum race set up. 'We suffered from the low grip levels always found here at Buenos Aires,' commented Ron Dennis. 'However, we had the right race strategy and made the correct tyre choice for the race which resulted in valuable points.'
Mika Hakkinen drove an energetic race finishing in a strong fifth position, which now sees him third in the Driver's Championship. Having had a difficult qualifying session with his car suffering from lack of traction, he started from 17th on the grid but soon gained ground to be placed 13th by the end of the first lap. The one stop race strategy proved to be the right decision and running harder of the two Goodyear tyre compounds, the West McLaren Mercedes team made their pit stop after the 40th lap of the 72 lap race. Rejoining the race after the 9.1 second stop, Mika's progress was hampered by the Sauber of Herbert who finished a mere 0.4 secs in front of him.
Team mate David Coulthard, who currently ties with Gerhard Berger for second position in the Drivers' Championship, had his race cut short. As he emerged from the first corner he was embroiled in the aftermath of a skirmish between Michael Schumacher and Barichello. 'I dropped a place at the start' said David, 'but managed to make it up as we exited the first corner. Then one of the Jordan's turned across me to avoid the accident between Ferrari and Stewart destroying the whole left hand front of my car.'
With the South American leg of the Championship completed the cars have been safely transported back to Woking for preperation for the next Grand Prix - Imola. Meanwhile the West McLaren Mercedes team have already embarked upon extensive testing in Barcelona as work continues to improve and develop the MP4/12 for the forthcoming European season.