McLaren drivers David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen are ready for the first race of the season at Melbourne, one of the very few street circuits on the calendar. While it's not the most technical track, Albert Park offers its own challenges. Like...
McLaren drivers David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen are ready for the first race of the season at Melbourne, one of the very few street circuits on the calendar. While it's not the most technical track, Albert Park offers its own challenges. Like Monaco, probably the most famous street circuit, the Australian track's barriers present a threat and the layout means its tough on brakes.
"Albert Park is quite a long and open circuit and does require a good aerodynamics package. The circuit is also very hard on brakes as well as being to difficult to overtake on. The race is also usually, a reasonable indication of the individual teams' performance for the remainder of the season."
Teammate Raikkonen is wary of the barriers: "The Melbourne circuit is not the most difficult track on the calendar," he commented. "But every circuit has some difficult corners and the set up of the car needs to be right. The circuit is also quite twisty and the barriers are quite close to the car, so if you go off the circuit, you are likely to cause a lot of damage."
The change from automatic to manual gearshifting could make overtaking easier. "Now we'll have make that shift and if a driver makes a small mistake and changes gear too early or too late, he'll lose some speed, and this could create an overtaking opportunity for the car behind," said Coulthard.
There has been much speculation about McLaren's performance in winter testing, both drivers expressing concern about reliability, but Coulthard is satisfied that the MP4-19 will be on the pace at Albert Park.
"We've inevitably experienced a few technical problems, which is part of the development of a new car," said the Scot. "I think we would be just as worried if we didn't have problems, because that would be unusual. Pace wise, it is very difficult to judge but I think it's safe to say that we're going to competitive when we get to Melbourne."
A new grandstand on the main straight at Albert Park is to be named after McLaren double champion Mika Hakkinen. The Finn won back-to-back titles with the team in 1998 and '99.