French GP: McLaren preview

Team McLaren Mercedes arrives in Magny Cours this week for the French Grand Prix, which marks the half way point of the 2005 World Championship. The French Grand Prix has been a permanent fixture on the Formula One calendar since the start of...

Team McLaren Mercedes arrives in Magny Cours this week for the French Grand Prix, which marks the half way point of the 2005 World Championship.

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 French Grand Prix in 1906 - staged near Le Mans - was the first automobile race called a "Grand Prix". Two years later, Christian Lautenschlager clinched the first Mercedes victory in the French GP; the four-cylinder engine of his car had a displacement of 12.8 litres and an output of 135 bhp.

Kimi Raikkonen:

"Magny Cours is a technical track with special challenges for cars and drivers. Our car so far has performed well at tracks of this type, so I am looking forward to a strong qualifying and race. There are as many points available in the second half of the season as in the first one and I hope to start taking them in Magny Cours. The track has a very smooth surface without bumps, so we run with low ride heights."

Juan Pablo Montoya:

"Magny Cours is quite a slow track with low speed hairpins, medium speed corners, and as a result we run with a medium-high downforce configuration. The track has a couple of quick turns though, such as Grand Courbe. The only genuinely fast section is between Estoril and Adelaide."

"You need to take the sweep of Estoril really flat out, pushing the limits, so you have good speed when you exit onto Golf. This runs down to Adelaide, which usually sees some entertaining overtaking manoeuvres. It is one of the few places where you can pass at Magny Cours. I am looking forward to this race and my wish is to do what I did in Canada, to challenge for victory."

Pedro de la Rosa:

"The Jerez test last week ran well, we completed the majority of the planned programme with myself, Juan Pablo, Kimi and Alex. We covered some 1700 kms in total over the three days. My programme on Friday at Magny Cours will concentrate on tyre selection with Michelin, following on from the work we conducted already in Jerez. Magny Cours is an interesting circuit to drive, it is very technical and as a result set-up is particularly key."

Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula One, Team McLaren Mercedes:

"The Team McLaren Mercedes team is fully focused on challenging for our fourth race win of the season at the French Grand Prix this weekend. Development and preparatory work has continued apace back at base and on the test track in Jerez and we are looking forward to getting back to the racing in France. In the main we have seen an exciting first half to the season, with close and intense battles on track, which we are looking to continue over the remaining nine races."

Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:

"The French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours will be the first of no less than four Grands Prix in one month. Never before in 55 years of Formula One history has there been such a concentration of races. This requires huge efforts from everybody in the team. In July alone, an optimum of 40 points in the Drivers' Championship and 72 points in the Constructors' Championship can be won that shows how fast everything can change in the World Championship tables."

"However, in the current competitive situation of Formula One it is very unlikely that one driver and one team will win the maximum number of points. The Circuit de Nevers at Magny-Cours is challenging for chassis, engines and tyres and should suit our technical package. More than 65 percent of a lap is run at full throttle. After Indianapolis Formula One needs a proper race in France and we will be focused to deliver."

-mclaren-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Mercedes , McLaren