Malaysian GP: McLaren Mercedes preview

2002 MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX PREVIEW Round two of the FIA Formula One World Championship takes place at the picturesque Sepang circuit. The West McLaren Mercedes team arrives in Malaysia aiming to capitalise on the competitiveness demonstrated at...

2002 MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX PREVIEW

Round two of the FIA Formula One World Championship takes place at the picturesque Sepang circuit. The West McLaren Mercedes team arrives in Malaysia aiming to capitalise on the competitiveness demonstrated at the Australian Grand Prix ten days ago when Kimi Räikkönen secured a strong third position in his debut race with the team.

Since the opening race of the 2002 season, West McLaren Mercedes has conducted a positive test session at the Le Castellet circuit in France, with Mercedes-Benz DTM driver Jean Alesi at the wheel of an interim MP4-16.

This year marks the fourth Malaysian Grand Prix at the purpose built Sepang track. The race is often affected by the hot and humid weather conditions at the circuit, which was designed to maximise spectator viewing and racing excitement. In the three races held to date, the West McLaren Mercedes team has secured three podium finishes, and currently holds the lap record which was set by Mika Hakkinen in 1999, with a time of 1.38:543. In 2001, David took third position on the podium and Kimi retired from the race.

DAVID COULTHARD

"I am looking forward to the Malaysian Grand Prix, as the circuit is enjoyable to drive with a good mixture of corners, fast straights and excellent overtaking opportunities. I am focusing on scoring my first points of the 2002 season and we are optimistic that we can leave Sepang with a good result. I have spent a few days relaxing in Thailand and am ready for action."

KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN

"It was fantastic to drive the MP4-17 for the first time in a competitive environment in Australia, especially as I secured my first podium finish in Formula One. I went to Bali after the Australian Grand Prix where I have been training hard in order to familiarise myself with the hot and humid conditions we are sure to experience in Malaysia."

MARTIN WHITMARSH, MANAGING DIRECTOR, McLAREN INTERNATIONAL

"Although we were disappointed with the result in Australia, with Kimi setting the fastest lap of the race, we demonstrated that the potential is there. We are looking to improve on the result in Malaysia and West McLaren Mercedes is going to Sepang with the same aim as always, to secure victory, and the whole team has been working hard to achieve the desired outcome."

NORBERT HAUG, VICE-PRESIDENT, MERCEDES-BENZ MOTORSPORT

"The Sepang circuit is a state-of-the-art race track in a hot and humid climate. This time of the year there is always a high risk of rain, which would certainly affect our prospects for the race, as we are focusing on improving our Melbourne result in the forthcoming Malaysian Grand Prix. In the meantime the team has continued their tyre evaluation programme in a three-day test at Le Castellet with Jean Alesi. From 5th to 7th March, Jean managed 226 laps and 1.300kms in the West McLaren Mercedes MP4-16B in predominantly wet track conditions and provided our team with a lot of useful data. In addition to this, Jean's experience gained in 13 years of Grand Prix racing gave the team valuable feedback."

-mclaren-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jean Alesi , Mika Hakkinen , Kimi Raikkonen
Teams Mercedes , McLaren