Race Preview Portugal 22nd - 23rd September The penultimate European round of the FIA Formula World Championships takes the...
Race Preview Portugal 22nd - 23rd September The penultimate European round of the FIA Formula World Championships takes the teams to Portugal, one of the competitors' favourite destinations for its atmosphere and picturesque environment. The Grand Prix will be hosted, as it has been for the last 11 years, by the traditional summer resort of Estoril, situated 30km south-west of Lisbon along the Atlantic Ocean coast.
The 4.360km-long Autodromo do Estoril, which is actually built on the hills behind the resort, used for testing by Marlboro McLaren Mercedes and many other teams, and therefore well known by all. It features a combination of fast and slow corners, and a very long start/finish straight that can be taken at up 300km/h.
"Portugal is a good race to go to at the end of the European season," commented Marlboro McLaren Mercedes driver Mark Blundell. "The track has changed a lot over the last few years, but I like 90% of it. The 10% most drivers and I dislike is the left/right chicane that was introduced last year as Turn Nine. We call it "wheelspin". Apart from that, it is a good circuit, physically very demanding with high G-forces affecting the driver for long periods of time. The bumpy surface is hard work as well, so all the drivers will be exhausted after the race. With the European Grand Prix taking place the following Sunday, we'll have an extremely tiring week ahead of us."
Marlboro McLaren Mercedes will take three MP4/10C chassis to Estoril, which integrate a number of revisions derived from the development work carried out on the 10B. "I am looking forward to driving this latest version of the MP4/10", added Mark.
Having just completed the frantic business of getting married, the Briton will want to relax from it all by emulating Mika Hakkinen's result at Monza and climb on the podium. Mika is already familiar with the Estoril rostrum as he finished third in last year's race, whilst his team mate Martin Brundle took the McLaren MP4/9 to sixth position and a Championship point.