Monte Carlo - 16th-19th June 1996 May is always a special month for Formula One teams, as they travel to the French Riviera to take part in the showpiece event of the FIA Formula One World Championship calendar, the ...
Monte Carlo - 16th-19th June 1996
May is always a special month for Formula One teams, as they travel to the French Riviera to take part in the showpiece event of the FIA Formula One World Championship calendar, the presitigious Monaco Grand Prix, whose glamour would rival the nearby International Cannes Film Festival. The 1996 race will be of even greater significance for Marlboro McLaren Mercedes: it will mark the 30th Anniversary of McLaren competing in Formula one.
Marlboro McLaren Mercedes drivers Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard were not even born when Bruce McLaren first raced the Formula One car bearing his name in the 1966 Monaco Grand Prix. He did not make it to the finish, but one of Formula's greatest success stories had just begun. 30 years later, McLaren ranks among the most successful Formula One constructors in the history of motor racing, having accumulated 104 Grand Prix wins, nine Drivers and seven Contructors World Championship titles in 432 races. Over three decades, the names of Emerson Fittipaldi, James Hunt, Niki Lauda, Alain Prost amd Ayrton Senna, all part of motor racing legend, have become forever associated with McLaren.
Monaco will be the ideal venue to celebrate this anniversary, as it is where McLaren has achieved its greatest number of Grand Prix victories, with Ayrton Senna winning five times and Alain Prost four times. The team's expectations for this year's event have been raised by its performance in the last two races in Germany and Italy. However, the unique features of 3.328km-long Monaco circuit as it twists around the streets of Monte-Carlo present the Formula One drivers with avery different challenge. Overtaking is extremely difficult, and any hope of obtaining a good result in the race will depend on their ability to secure a top grid position during Sunday's single qualifying session. The start of the race will also be crucial, and David Coulthard will be keen to continue on his current blistering form. Mika Hakkinen, meanwhile, will strive to make the most of the current competitiveness of the McLaren-Mercedes car on a circuit he loves.
At Monaco, the MP4/11 chassis will feature a number of further developments, which were succcessfully tested at Imola last week, as well as a mid-ship wing for additional downforce. Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz have developed a new specification F0110 engine, which will be made available to the team over the Grand Prix weekend. Early testing has demonstrated that it represented yet another significant step forward for the German manufacturer.