From May 29th until June 1st, the small principality of Monaco will be taken over by Formula One for the 2003 Monaco Grand Prix, round seven of the FIA Formula One World Championship and McLaren's 550th Grand Prix. The West McLaren Mercedes team...
From May 29th until June 1st, the small principality of Monaco will be taken over by Formula One for the 2003 Monaco Grand Prix, round seven of the FIA Formula One World Championship and McLaren's 550th Grand Prix. The West McLaren Mercedes team travels to the glamorous event with Kimi Raikkonen still leading the Drivers' standings, with 40 points, and David Coulthard in fifth position with 23 points. The team lies second in the Constructors' table with 63 points, just one behind leaders Ferrari.
"It is a good feeling to arrive at the Monaco Grand Prix leading the Drivers' World Championship. Although the gap has been reduced, my second place in Austria has added to my points tally and there are many races still left to run. The narrow, windy track at Monte Carlo provides us with the only true street circuit on the calendar, and usually some entertaining, yet demanding, race weekends."
"The track has a number of original features, for example it has the slowest average speed, some 94.9mph/152.7km/h, and the only covered section of track we race on. The first few times you drive through the tunnel you tend to take it a bit easy so that you can get used to the change in the light, but after that is it the only real flat out section of the track. It is another circuit that lacks obvious overtaking chances, but although they are all more risky than at other tracks there are a couple."
"These include the first corner, although it is tighter than it appears, the chicane as you exit the tunnel and also perhaps under braking at Mirabeau as you blast downhill out of Casino. Also because we are racing on public roads there are some bumps in the surface, which can affect the performance of the car. I have not yet finished in the points at this race, which is something I am looking to achieve this year."
"I am very much looking forward to the Monaco Grand Prix, it is one of those events that has that little something special about it and it is a race weekend I always enjoy. It may not be the easiest with regards working in the compact nature of the event, be that the team in the pit lane or the 20 cars driving round the track, with the tight armco barriers and lack of run off areas meaning that judgement is based in millimetres rather than centimetres when racing in the Principality. There is no margin for error, but that just adds to the unique challenge this track offers."
"As I live in Monaco, the race is like a second home Grand Prix for me, and it is also the event that all drivers want to win, because of its level of global prestige. I have had the pleasure of securing two victories on the streets on Monte Carlo, last year and in 2000, and hopefully I can make a hat-trick this coming weekend. The track is marginally shorter this year, a consequence of the long-term development that is taking place in the harbour."
"The main alteration to have come on line this year is the revised layout of the swimming pool complex. There is a tighter left turn in, and the track runs closer to the front of the harbour on the reclaimed land. It was great to see the first run of the MP4-18 last week at Ricard. It is an exciting looking car and Alex felt very positive, I am now looking forward to getting my hands on it in due course."
Martin Whitmarsh, Managing director, McLaren International:
"It was an exciting moment last week when the MP4-18 made its test debut at Paul Ricard. We conducted a positive programme with both the new car and the MP4-17D and are looking forward to getting the 18 back out on track again at the Barcelona test next week. We now move to Monaco, a real drivers circuit, where the tight nature and consequential low speeds of the track sees us use a maximum downforce configuration. There is no need for compromise as the car needs to be set-up for optimised performance at low speed only."
"It is fairly difficult to overtake, which in turn increases the importance of qualifying. Monaco's unique characteristics also limit the pre-event preparation, as there is not a track with a similar layout at which we test, it will be interesting to see how the new one flying lap format adapts to the narrow street circuit."
"The event is world renowned, perhaps the most prestigious of the year, this is partly the location but also the heritage. There has been racing in the principality since the late 1920's, and the circuit remains virtually identical. It also has an added level of significance for the team as it was the location of McLaren's Formula One debut in 1966, with founder Bruce at the wheel."
Norbert Haug, Vice president, Mercedes-Benz motorsport:
"The Monaco Grand Prix is outstanding in terms of the challenge the circuit offers, as well as the atmosphere. The circuit is not comparable to any other track on the Grand Prix calendar. On this narrow and tricky street circuit the chassis, engine and tyres have to meet very special requirements; you need maximum downforce, good front end grip for exact turning into the mostly tight corners, an engine with good torque and an efficient traction control, but most of all it is a drivers' circuit. Our team has good memories of Monaco. David has won twice in the last three Monaco Grands Prix, and at the third he was on pole position."