European GP: McLaren preview

The European Grand Prix, held at the renowned Nürburgring, marks the halfway point of the 2002 FIA Formula One World Championship and a home race for Mercedes-Benz. The West McLaren Mercedes team arrives in Germany looking to strengthen the third...

The European Grand Prix, held at the renowned Nürburgring, marks the halfway point of the 2002 FIA Formula One World Championship and a home race for Mercedes-Benz. The West McLaren Mercedes team arrives in Germany looking to strengthen the third position currently held in the Constructors' table.

The inaugural European Grand Prix took place in 1983 at Brands Hatch, Britain, since then is has been held on 12 occasions at four locations. In addition to Brands Hatch and the Nürburgring, Donington and Jerez have also hosted the event.

Set in countryside some 50 miles/80 kms south-west of Cologne, the Nürburgring stands in the shadow of the epic Nordschleife. Built 75 years ago it was the first permanent racing circuit in Germany, and also operated as a test track. The legendary 14 mile/22 km drive through the Eiffel mountains regularly staged the German Grand Prix, before safety concerns saw the race transferred to Hockenheim in 1977.

In 1984 the revised track returned to the calendar, in the form of a modern Grand Prix venue, and has held the European Grand Prix on six occasions since. The circuit has again been altered in preparation for the 2002 race, including the addition of a new 583-metre section called the Mercedes Arena.

The West McLaren Mercedes team's most recent success at the Nürburgring came in 1998, when Mika Hakkinen took victory in the Luxembourg Grand Prix. Last year's race at the Nürburgring saw David Coulthard take third. The team has been testing at Jerez this week in preparation for the race. Alex Wurz was joined at the Spanish track by David, Kimi Raikkonen and Darren Turner. West McLaren Mercedes drivers topped the time sheets every day at Jerez, with Kimi setting the fastest time of the week on Thursday.

DAVID COULTHARD

"I am looking forward to the European Grand Prix, where I will hopefully continue my current run of podium finishes. The results at Monaco and Canada have brought me to within one point of the battle for second place in the World Championship, and I am aiming to consolidate my position at the Nürburgring."

"It will be interesting to see how the new revisions alter the track, apart from making it slightly longer at 3.196 miles/5.144kms, which may lead to increased lap times. There is always an enthusiastic atmosphere at the Nürburgring, in particular as it is a home race for Mercedes-Benz so we always have a lot of crowd support."

KIMI RAIKKONEN

"The Nürburgring always seems to host exciting Grands Prix, largely due to the number of real overtaking opportunities, including under braking into the Veedol chicane and the new hairpin at the entrance to the Mercedes Arena, and the unpredictable weather conditions. The track offers a good combination of corners and fast straights, which makes the race interesting to drive and for the crowd to watch."

"As this is one of Mercedes-Benz' home Grands Prix, I am looking forward to racing in front of the fans and hope we can secure a good result for them. We conducted a positive test programme last week at Jerez, focusing on tyre evaluation and suspension work, and completed some 1200 miles/1900 km."

MARTIN WHITMARSH, MANAGING DIRECTOR, McLAREN INTERNATIONAL

"Another encouraging result in Canada for West McLaren Mercedes, which demonstrates that we are continuing to move in the right direction. We have further developments scheduled for the coming races, which we hope will provide the further performance enhancements required. A key characteristic of the medium to high downforce track is understeer, and consequently it is crucial to optimise set-up at the Nürburgring."

NORBERT HAUG, VICE-PRESIDENT, MERCEDES-BENZ MOTORSPORT

"The European Grand Prix is one of two home Grands Prix for Mercedes-Benz. The original Nordschleife circuit has a long joint history with our company. This year's race marks the 75th anniversary of the inaugural event at the track, which took place in 1927. The new Grand Prix circuit has developed into a modern track, which this year sees the addition of the new Mercedes Arena."

"This new section, which is entered by a tight hairpin at the end of the start-finish straight increases the length of the circuit by 583 metres and adds a new attraction to this medium fast circuit. We hope this new part will make the circuit even more challenging and will create the possibility for outbraking manoeuvres."

-mclaren-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen , Alexander Wurz , Darren Turner
Teams Mercedes , McLaren