N?rburgring debut for new McLaren?

N?rburgring debut for new McLaren?

The ongoing saga of when McLaren will bring the MP4-18 into competition has another tenuous date to ponder on: the European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring on June 29th. Team boss Ron Dennis had originally said the new chassis would not make an ...

The ongoing saga of when McLaren will bring the MP4-18 into competition has another tenuous date to ponder on: the European Grand Prix at the N?rburgring on June 29th. Team boss Ron Dennis had originally said the new chassis would not make an appearance before Canada but no later than the British GP. Since the MP4-18 hit the track in testing for the first time at Paul Ricard last week, the debut of the much-heralded beast is on schedule.

Alexander Wurz test the new McLaren Mercedes MP4-18.
Photo by DaimlerChrysler.
"It's not in my mind a secret that we would like to introduce it there (N?rburgring)," Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren managing director, told the BBC. "I think it's realistic and feasible, but it's early days yet,"

"We've just started to run the car. Inevitably there are some teething problems, technical issues to be resolved. Fortunately so far they've been of the variety which are frustrating and annoying but they are not large dramas. We'll fight through those fairly quickly. There is a target to go racing at the European Grand Prix but we will manage the risk by making the decision nearer the date."

Just to be more confusing, the MP4-18 has two versions currently ongoing: the 'X' version and the 'A' version -- the latter having a different transmission system and greater technical risk. "Everyone involved in it really believes in it at the moment," Whitmarsh enthused. "In terms of technical risk I think it's greater than I've ever seen incorporated in the last 15 McLaren cars."

"Everyone has squeezed their heads and put every thought and idea they could into this project. I don't think anyone doubts that the car will be quick. But I also think there's an intuitive buzz in the company when they look at how extreme the car is and how expensive it looks."

Ferrari's F2003-GA is proving very competitive but Whitmarsh is skeptical about progress made by the Scuderia: "I think last year we made them (Ferrari) look better than they were in that Williams and McLaren underperformed," he commented.

"They did a good job last year but not an extraordinary job. They were beatable. They did do an extraordinary job on reliability. We've now got to put them under some pressure so they have to take more technical risk."

"But, encouragingly, whilst their new car is clearly a very, very good car, it hasn't moved the game on significantly as far as we can see so far. Maybe in two races it's too early to say but it certainly doesn't appear to have been a big jump forward."

"We've got every expectation that we can make a step. We aim to give them a fight this year. Hopefully we can prevail. If we don't then we're going to be even stronger next year."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Alexander Wurz , Martin Whitmarsh
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren , Williams