Malaysian GP: McLaren preview

The FIA Formula One World Championship moves to Malaysia for round two of the 2003 season. Following the Australian Grand Prix ten days ago, the West McLaren Mercedes team arrives in Malaysia looking to capitalise on the double podium finish...

The FIA Formula One World Championship moves to Malaysia for round two of the 2003 season. Following the Australian Grand Prix ten days ago, the West McLaren Mercedes team arrives in Malaysia looking to capitalise on the double podium finish secured at the event, with David Coulthard taking his 13th career victory and Kimi Raikkonen finishing in third.

David Coulthard:

"The result at the Australian Grand Prix was a fantastic start to the season for all at the West McLaren Mercedes team, it was particularly pleasing for myself to secure the first victory of 2003. After all the work the entire team has put in during the off season, it was encouraging to demonstrate that we have a competitive pace and we are now looking forward to what we hope will be a similarly exciting race in Malaysia. The Sepang circuit, which is located close to the Kuala Lumpur airport, was built specifically with Formula One in mind, and therefore provides state of the art facilities and a track that offers genuine overtaking opportunities."

"The circuit is fairly wide in places, which aids this process. Another characteristic is the gradient changes, including through the complex at the end of the first straight, which provides a different challenge. A significant period of acclimatisation is required prior to the Malaysian Grand Prix to ensure you are fully prepared to deal with the intensely humid conditions, the more you train in the local conditions, the better your body adapts. It takes the body up to ten days to become fully accustomed. Consequently I spent a few days in Australia after the race and then moved onto Thailand."

Kimi Raikkonen:

"One of the key factors at the Malaysian Grand Prix is the atmospheric conditions. The high temperatures play a considerable role in the race, and increase the importance of cooling systems, for example we will run with a greater flow into the radiators. Generally it is hot and humid, but the weather is also very unpredictable, and monsoon rain can start in an instant, which adds another element to the race weekend. Due to the heat, I travelled to Malaysia following the Australian Grand Prix so that I could acclimatise to the temperature."

"By training in the heat, we get our bodies used to performing in the Malaysian environment. In addition to this, we also have to drink a substantial amount of fluids daily to get our bodies used to taking on greater amounts of fluids to replace what is lost through sweat. This ensures we do not suffer from dehydration, which can affect concentration levels, muscle strength and endurance, and are therefore able to perform to our maximum level. Sepang provides a range of challenges, from the tight bends at the start of the track, to the sequence of extremely fast, sweeping corners at the back of the circuit. These characteristics demand a set-up compromise, with a medium to high downforce configuration."

Martin Whitmarsh, Managing Director, McLaren International:

"The West McLaren Mercedes team's performance at the Australian Grand Prix was an illustration that we have made good progress with our entire package during the off-season. It was also a motivational way to begin the new campaign. Although we have taken a major step forwards, we are under no illusions. There is still significant work to be done to ensure we continue to raise the competitiveness of the MP4-17D, in conjunction with the development process of the MP4-18, and improve our application to the new qualifying format."

"West McLaren Mercedes conducted a positive test last week in Jerez, completing some 2,300kms, with our Third Driver Alex Wurz accompanied by Pedro de la Rosa for a one-off test. This arrangement came about as a consequence of David and Kimi staying out between Australia and Malaysia. We are now looking forward to the Malaysian Grand Prix, at which we have a consistent record of podium finishes, having secured three in the past four races. This year also marks the fifth race to be held in Malaysia, which is a demonstration of the interest and support in Formula One in the Far East as the sport continues to expand in the region."

Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:

"The Sepang circuit is a state-of-the-art race track and the Grand Prix of Malaysia takes place in a hot and humid climate. This time of the year there is always a big chance of rain, which could certainly affect both strategy and outcome of the race. I certainly hope that the race will be as interesting for the spectators as the Australian Grand Prix a fortnight ago."


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Pedro de la Rosa , David Coulthard , Kimi Raikkonen , Alexander Wurz , Norbert Haug , Martin Whitmarsh
Teams Mercedes , McLaren