Australian GP McLaren preview

The Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne's Albert Park circuit on March 4Ih heralds the start of the new Formula One season and the race debut of the West McLaren Mercedes MP4-16. The team's 2001 challenger has required a "clean sheet of paper" ...

The Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne's Albert Park circuit on March 4Ih heralds the start of the new Formula One season and the race debut of the West McLaren Mercedes MP4-16.

The team's 2001 challenger has required a "clean sheet of paper" approach to development in many areas as a result of revised FIA technical regulations, including a reduction in downforce and various primary safety structure changes, from higher roll-hoop loads to new side penetration tests. Following an extensive winter testing programme with drivers Mika Hakkinen, David Coulthard and Alexander Wurz at the wheel, the team arrives in Australia looking forward to the challenges of the season.

At the Australian race the West McLaren Mercedes team will be celebrating a special anniversary, the Grand Prix of McLaren-Mercedes. as well as Partners Mobil 1 and Loctite wha joined the team in 1995.

Since then, the team has secured 26 victories, 32 pole positions and has amassed 574 points. Albert Park is situated approximately 10 minutes from the centre of Melbourne with its scenic location making this Grand Prix venue a firm favourite with all the Formula One teams. The street circuit's selection of fast corners combined with tight hairpins and sweeping curves makes it hard on brakes and tyres, and requires the cars to have a high downforce configuration. The 3.274milesi5.269km circuit is challenging, however it's not one of the fastest on the calendar, with a maximum speed of approximately 186mph.

The Melbourne circuit has been successful for the team in the past, with a victory for David Coulthard in 1997 and an impressive one-two finish for Mika and David in 1998. Last year was the third year in a row the pair occupied the front row at the Australian Grand Prix.

MlKA HAKKINEN

'The first race of the season is always exciting as it provides the opportunity to see how the car truly performs. I feel very motivated this year, last season's result has increased my desire to win which is now stronger than ever, and I intend to do my best to win back the Drivers' title and to help the team win the Constructors' Championship.'

DAVID COULTHARD

'Over the winter I have been working hard with the team testing new components on an interim car and the MP4-16 in Spain. I am very focused on getting the maximum out of the car. the team and myself and feel that we are well prepared for the new season. I always enjoy driving at Albert Park, it may not be the quickest track, but the atmosphere is fantastic.'

RON DENNIS

'This is an important season for everyone involved with the West McLaren Mercedes team and we are determined to succeed. I believe that you must always learn from the past and use that knowledge productively to improve your own performance. We feel we have accomplished this during the off-season, and with winter testing times supporting our belief that the MP4-16 will be competitive in 2001 .'

- www.mclaren.com

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers David Coulthard , Alexander Wurz
Teams Mercedes , McLaren