French GP McLaren preview

Three weeks have quickly elapsed and the Grand Prix circus is on the move again, this time heading for Nevers, in the centre of France. Marlboro McLaren Mercedes driver Mark Blundell will be on familiar ground, following his season at Ligier in...

Three weeks have quickly elapsed and the Grand Prix circus is on the move again, this time heading for Nevers, in the centre of France. Marlboro McLaren Mercedes driver Mark Blundell will be on familiar ground, following his season at Ligier in 1993, and both he and teammate Mika Hakkinen will hope that the intensive testing put in since the beginning of the year will pay off in France.

The 4.271 km long Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, a three hours' drive south of Paris, has hosted the French Grand Prix since 1991, an event that traditionally marks the beginning of the busiest period for Formula One. In 1995, from this race onwards, the chase for the Drivers and Constructor's Championship titles will continue relentlessly every two weeks until October.

Magny-Cours is the base of the Ligier team, and serves as their test track for most of the year. It has therefore no secrets left for Mark. "Magny-Cours is one of the newer circuits on the Formula One calendar, without the tradition of Silverstone", commented the Englishman, "but it is an interseting circuit, with a few overtaking opportunities, the main one being along the back straight".

The long sweeping right-hand Estoril corner, shortly after the start/finish straight, is also an attractive feature of the circuit. "It is pretty exciting section for the drivers as it is one of the fastest corners anywhere," continues Mark. "Another interesting, if unusual, characteristic of the track is that it has an exceptionally smooth surface, which is also very susceptible to the heat. Conditions can change quite dramatically from a morning to an afternoon session, and their effect on lap times makes it very difficult to establish the true competitiveness of the car."

Mark and Mika are currently testing at Silverstone. Work on aerodynamics, noticable by the changege in the shape of the engine cover, is being carried out in preparation for this race, as well as development of the front and rear suspension geomtry and engine. Beforehand Mike spent three days testing in Barcelona and obtained satisfying results.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Mark Blundell
Teams Mercedes , McLaren