French GP: McLaren preview

The French Grand Prix has been a permanent fixture on the Formula One calendar since the start of the World Championship in 1950, with the exception of 1955. Initially held at Reims, the event alternated between Rouen, Clermont Ferrand, Le ...

The French Grand Prix has been a permanent fixture on the Formula One calendar since the start of the World Championship in 1950, with the exception of 1955. Initially held at Reims, the event alternated between Rouen, Clermont Ferrand, Le Castellet, Dijon-Prenois and Le Mans before moving to its current home at Magny Cours in 1991. Located some 160 miles/257 kms south of Paris, Magny Cours boasts excellent pit facilities, a consequence of the significant development the track underwent as part of a French Government backed initiative.

The West McLaren Mercedes team has secured points finishes in the past four French Grands Prix, including David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen's one-two finish in 2000. Last year David set the lap record at Magny Cours, with a fastest time of 1m16.088. In preparation for the 2002 Mobil 1 French Grand Prix, which is sponsored for a fifth consecutive year by Mobil 1, Technology Partner of West McLaren Mercedes, the team has been testing at Le Castellet circuit in the south of France.

DAVID COULTHARD

"The entire West McLaren Mercedes team has been working hard at the factory and testing at Le Castellet in preparation for the Mobil 1 French Grand Prix following the disappointment of the British race. The Magny Cours circuit is more of a technical challenge than a flat out, on the limits driving track. It has a very smooth surface characteristic, which allows low ride heights to be run and also results in low mechanical grip. Over the years we have put in a significant amount of testing kilometres at Magny Cours and consequently have a good knowledge of the track. This is of particular advantage at Magny Cours because the limited overtaking opportunities increase the reliance on race strategy."

KIMI RAIKKONEN

"I am looking forward to the Mobil 1 French Grand Prix at the 2.641 mile/4.251km Magny Cours circuit, which offers a good mix of low speed hairpins, medium speed corners and fast chicanes. This varied combination demands a medium to high downforce configuration. The only real overtaking chance is under braking on the entrance to the tight Adelaide hairpin, and it's location at the end of the super fast Golf straight always leads to some dramatic manoeuvres."

MARTIN WHITMARSH, MANAGING DIRECTOR, McLAREN INTERNATIONAL

"The 2002 Mobil 1 French Grand Prix marks the start of a particularly intensive ten-day period for Formula One, with only one week between this race and the Mobil 1 German Grand Prix. However, following our unsatisfactory performance at the British Grand Prix, the West McLaren Mercedes team have been working hard to maximise our performance during this time and are looking forward to racing at Magny Cours. The team has a consistent points finishes record at the event and we are looking to extend it in 2002."

NORBERT HAUG, VICE PRESIDENT, MERCEDES-BENZ MOTORSPORT

"After the British Grand Prix our team has worked through an intensive test programme at Le Castellet, a circuit which like Magny Cours is technically challenging. From Tuesday to Saturday of last week Alex, David and Kimi covered 1830 kilometres altogether."

-mclaren-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen
Teams Mercedes , McLaren