Chinese GP: McLaren preview

China's spectacular Shanghai International Circuit stages the country's first ever Formula One Grand Prix this weekend. Construction of this modern racing complex, which features state-of-the-art facilities, was completed earlier this year. Kimi...

China's spectacular Shanghai International Circuit stages the country's first ever Formula One Grand Prix this weekend. Construction of this modern racing complex, which features state-of-the-art facilities, was completed earlier this year.

Kimi Raikkonen:

"Following the Italian Grand Prix, the West McLaren Mercedes team has been testing at the Silverstone circuit in the UK. We had a productive test where we focused on set-up for China. The Shanghai International Circuit looks like a great track to drive. It has an equal number of right and left handers, a good mix of corner types, from long sweeps to tight hairpins, and a number of straights where we can stretch the legs of the MP4-19B, the longest of which is over 1km and links turns 13 and 14 at the end of the lap."

"Due to this mix we will need downforce and mechanical grip for the slower bends whilst ensuring we maximise speed on the long straights. We have of course used simulation techniques at the McLaren Technology Centre prior to the race to get an initial understanding of the characteristics of the track and now I am looking forward to actually driving it. David and myself will look round the track with our engineers as soon as we arrive to have a closer look at the braking points, cambers, kerbs and so on to familiarise ourselves with it."

David Coulthard:

"I believe the Chinese Grand Prix will be one of the key events of the 2004 Formula One season. In addition to the sport visiting a country that is very different culturally and the enthusiasm that you always get with new fans, the circuit has been designed to maximise spectator viewing and racing excitement. Having looked at the plans there are a number of potential overtaking opportunities, the most obvious of which is under braking at the end of the long straight, we should be able to slipstream along the 1km stretch and get alongside before making our move."

"The general consensus is that the Shanghai International Circuit will be technically demanding from a set-up perspective and also quite tough physically. I will have arrived in Shanghai on Tuesday, to enable my body to acclimatise to the environment and time difference, and it will also give me the opportunity to have a quick look around the city, which I am really looking forward to as China as a country fascinates me."

Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula One, West McLaren Mercedes:

"A new circuit inevitably presents an element of the unknown, but we have made the necessary preparations at the McLaren Technology Centre. The West McLaren Mercedes team is very much looking forward to the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix, and the start of a new and exciting era for motorsport in the region. The much anticipated race will open up the world of Formula One to vast new audiences and markets and we are aiming to put on a good show for them."

"The facilities at the track are exemplary, which is even more important at fly-away races as we do not have our usual trackside facilities. The circuit profile of Shanghai indicates that car set-ups will require a medium downforce configuration, with the average lap speed expected to be similar to those achieved at circuits such as Malaysia and Canada."

Norberg Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:

"There's a good chance, that the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix will become the most noticed event in motor sport history. All over the world, the media will be very much interested in covering the first Formula One race in China and I'm sure that also the few countries, which usually take less notice of Formula One, will learn the news about the Shanghai race."

"For DaimlerChrysler, the Formula One event in Shanghai is of great importance. Starting next year we will be producing C and E Class sedans in China and at the first Grand Prix we want to present ourselves in a competitive way to the Chinese spectators at the race track or on the TV."

"It should be an exciting race and after simulation calculations we can already understand the track quite well. In parts it resembles a combination of the track layouts of Hockenheim and Malaysia. The circuit should suit our cars quite well, it features fast and slow corners and it's demanding for the brakes as well as for the engines."

"Our team is very much looking forward to the first race in China and we all aim at achieving a good result. In four out of the last five races we had the speed to finish on the podium, Kimi finished first once, he ended up second once, and he retired twice from good positions due to technical failures -- which is twice too much. Everybody in the team wants to do better in China."

-mclaren-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers David Coulthard , Kimi Raikkonen , Martin Whitmarsh
Teams Mercedes , McLaren