French GP: McLaren preview

The West McLaren Mercedes team arrives in Magny Cours this week for the 2003 Mobil 1 French Grand Prix, which is sponsored for a sixth consecutive year by West McLaren Mercedes' Technology Partner ExxonMobil. West McLaren Mercedes lies in third ...

The West McLaren Mercedes team arrives in Magny Cours this week for the 2003 Mobil 1 French Grand Prix, which is sponsored for a sixth consecutive year by West McLaren Mercedes' Technology Partner ExxonMobil. West McLaren Mercedes lies in third place in the Constructors' standings with 76 points. Kimi Raikkonen remains in second position in the Drivers' World Championship with 51 points, with teammate David Coulthard in seventh with 25 points.

Kimi Raikkonen:

"It was obviously a very disappointing end to the European Grand Prix last Sunday, but that is racing. The MP4-17D felt great all weekend and it was a fantastic feeling to take my first ever Formula One pole. We are now focusing on the Mobil 1 French Grand Prix where we will work hard to ensure we can run at a similar pace."

"I am particularly looking forward to the event and hopefully erasing the memories of my now infamous incident towards the end of the race last year. It was of course a bittersweet moment, when I missed out so narrowly on what would have been my first Formula One victory.

"David and myself did secure a double podium finish at the event and hopefully can do one better this year. The track has a particularly smooth surface and we can run with very low ride heights, and there is therefore low mechanical grip. Magny Cours is also definitely more of a technical than flat out speed track."

David Coulthard:

"Following the incident at the end of the European Grand Prix, I am now looking forward to getting back to racing at the Mobil 1 French Grand Prix, which is a circuit I always enjoy and suits my style of driving. There have been some significant modifications to the circuit at Magny Cours since last year, which I believe will provide increased overtaking opportunities that had previously been fairly limited."

"These include a re-profiling of Chateau d'Eau and a new fast and curving left-hander has been incorporated just before the Lycee hairpin. This sees a smoother and in theory a faster approach to the hairpin, which itself has been widened. These two factors combined should encourage more passing here."

"There is also a revised entrance to the pit lane, which has been moved away from the corner and is now entered as you exit the hairpin, rather than just before it. This will reduce the length of the pit lane, which may see some changes to strategy as a stop should take less time."

Martin Whitmarsh, Managing director, McLaren International:

"The final results of the European Grand Prix to some extent masked West McLaren Mercedes' encouraging performance, in terms of the pace and overall competitiveness of the MP4-17D package. We are now looking to maximise the potential at the Mobil 1 French Grand Prix this coming weekend."

"To allow for the August break from the Championship, the Mobil 1 French Grand Prix is taking place just one week after the European race, which of course provides an interesting logistical challenge with the cars, the team and the infrastructure going direct to Magny Cours from the European race."

"As there is no testing permitted during the week leading up to a Grand Prix, the West McLaren Mercedes team has been preparing for the event in our Woking and Stuttgart headquarters. After the French Grand Prix, we are returning to the test track at Barcelona, with two MP4-18's and one MP4-17D."

Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:

"The French Grand Prix is a race that saw us performing well last year. Our team will be working hard not only to prove again the speed and competitiveness of the MP4-17D, demonstrated by Kimi's excellent performance during the weekend of the European Grand Prix, but to also achieve a good result. Magny Cours is a medium fast circuit featuring a succession of fast sections and slow hairpins. The surface is very smooth and the grip level changes quite frequently. About 50 percent of the track is run on full throttle."

-mclaren-

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