MELBOURNE GRAND PRIX AUSTRALIA - 9TH MARCH 1997 Melbourne once again plays host to the inaugural round of the Formula One Grand Prix season. The Albert Park circuit, one of the longest in Grand Prix...
MELBOURNE GRAND PRIX AUSTRALIA - 9TH MARCH 1997
Melbourne once again plays host to the inaugural round of the Formula One Grand Prix season. The Albert Park circuit, one of the longest in Grand Prix with its long sweeping corners alternating with deceptively tight bends, has been termed as possibly the most exciting track in modern times.
The `new look' West McLaren Mercedes team arrive at the beginning of the week in good shape following the re-design of the car and team livery during the course of the winter months. Testing has also proved to be positive with Mika stealing the lap record in Barcelona a week ago. However, the team are still cautious in their predictions for the forthcoming season and we wait to see how the MP4/12, piloted by Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard, will fare in Australia.
Restrictions on testing venues were relaxed at the end of January, which inevitably saw all the top teams chasing the sun in order to maximise track time. Distributing ourselves across Europe, between Jerez, Estoril, Mugello and Barcelona, resulted in little comparative test information. A situation which will heighten interest in the performance of all the teams at the first Grand Prix of the 1997 season.
The MP4/12 is a new car incorporating numerous design innovations. In line with the updated FIA technical regulations the MP4/12 features a rear impact zone, collapsable steering column, reduced winglet areas and suspension designed within the limited aspect ratios designated by the technical regulations.
There have also been a range of aerodynamic changes and further use of composites within the rear suspension. A newly packaged version of the longitudinal transmission introduced in 1996 will be in place for a second season and the cooling systems philosophy has also been changed to capitalise on the internal air flow.
The Mercedes Benz FO110E V10 engine for this year optimises development work made during last season and continued research during the winter aims to achieve enhanced reliability and performance improvement.
The West McLaren Mercedes team will also be visually very different in the paddock, pit lane and on the track this season. With the new livery and team clothing, next weekend will see the arrival of a distincitive graphite, silver and rocket red alternative to previous years. The new car livery has proved to work well on television following intensive screen testing at Barcelona, and has been claimed by numerous commentators to be one of the best looking cars Grand Prix has seen for many years.