Round nine of the 2003 FIA Formula One World Championship, The European Grand Prix, takes place at the renowned NÃ¼rburgring, and is the first of two home races for Mercedes-Benz. West McLaren Mercedes arrives in Germany lying in second place in...
Round nine of the 2003 FIA Formula One World Championship, The European Grand Prix, takes place at the renowned Nürburgring, and is the first of two home races for Mercedes-Benz. West McLaren Mercedes arrives in Germany lying in second place in the Constructors' World Championship with 76 points. Kimi Raikkonen is in second position in the Drivers' table with 51 points, with a gap of only three points from the leader, whilst David Coulthard lies in seventh with 25 points.
The inaugural European Grand Prix took place in 1983 at Brands Hatch in Britain, since then it has been held on 12 occasions at four locations. In addition to Brands Hatch and the Nürburgring, Donington Park and Jerez have also hosted the event.
The Nürburgring is on the site of the epic Nordschleife. The legendary 14 mile/22 km drive through the Eifel mountains regularly staged the German Grand Prix, before safety concerns saw the race transferred to Hockenheim in 1977. The revised track returned to the calendar in 1984 and since then has held the European Grand Prix on six occasions.
"Obviously the result at Canada was not ideal, but as mentioned at the time it was not a disaster. Despite my qualifying position, I was able to salvage some points and as a consequence Michael only has a lead of three points, and at this halfway point of the season we still have another eight races to go and a lot of points to be won. The Nürburgring has a wide range of corner styles and straights, which means it is an interesting track to drive and you are able to build up a good, smooth rhythm during the course of the race."
"Unlike the last few circuits, the Nürburgring is pretty forgiving as it has wide run-off areas and large gravel traps. It also tends to lead to understeer, so obviously it is particularly important to work on set-up to avoid this being a major factor. There is always an enthusiastic atmosphere at the event, especially for West McLaren Mercedes as it is a home race for Mercedes-Benz."
"The European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, which marks my 150th Formula One race start, is always an enjoyable event. As it is one of Mercedes-Benz' home Grands Prix, we have great crowd support, which of course provides an extra element of motivation. Again the race pace of the MP4-17D was very encouraging in Canada when we were not behind traffic, so hopefully we can put on a good race for the fans in Germany."
"In addition to this, the track has some excellent overtaking opportunities, for example under braking into the Veedol chicane, which is often the scene of exciting manoeuvres, and the hairpin at the entrance to the Mercedes Arena, that was introduced last year. After Canada we travelled to Jerez in Spain to continue the development programme of the MP4-18, it was another good week. Naturally as we drive the car more, we get more of an understanding and can therefore focus on maximising its potential and reliability before its race introduction."
Martin Whitmarsh, Managing director, McLaren International:
"There is, of course, an element of disappointment within the team that we left Canada having lost our lead in both the Constructors' and Drivers' World Championships. However when you look at the bigger picture, whilst taking into consideration the strategy the West McLaren Mercedes team has adopted this year, we are in a strong position in the Championships, and we believe we have a significant performance step coming on line with the race debut of the MP4-18. This will be when we are confident that it will enhance our Championship programme."
"We are under no illusions, however, of the challenge that lies ahead. The eight Grands Prix that are remaining will undoubtedly follow the current trend of closely fought racing as our competitors will also continue to develop their packages. The European Grand Prix is a noteworthy milestone in David's career, as it will be his 150th Grand Prix start, 125 of which have been with our team."
Norbert Haug, Vice president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
"Last year the Mercedes Arena was added to the Nürburgring Grand Prix circuit, which makes the layout of the medium fast circuit more challenging. Besides the hairpin leading into the new section the track features a few more good overtaking opportunities, for example the hairpin at the far end of the circuit and the tight chicane at the end of the back straight."
"About 60 percent of the track is run under full throttle, and it is challenging for both aerodynamics and efficiency of the race car. The European Grand is one of two home Grands Prix for Mercedes-Benz and the entire team is looking forward to the forthcoming race."