San Marino GP: McLaren preview

The 2002 San Marino Grand Prix marks the start of the European Formula One season following the three fly-away races. The West McLaren Mercedes team arrives at the 3.065 mile / 4.933 km Imola circuit looking to build on David Coulthard's...

The 2002 San Marino Grand Prix marks the start of the European Formula One season following the three fly-away races. The West McLaren Mercedes team arrives at the 3.065 mile / 4.933 km Imola circuit looking to build on David Coulthard's third position in the Brazilian Grand Prix ten days ago. The result took David's career points total to 363, a tally which makes him Britain's second highest points-scorer in Formula One, behind Nigel Mansell.

Following the Brazilian Grand Prix, the West McLaren Mercedes team has been testing in Valencia, Spain, with Kimi Raikkonen and third driver Alexander Wurz at the wheel. Kimi set the fastest time of the week on Thursday with 1:12.453, and the Finn also topped the time sheets on Wednesday.

The first championship event to be held at Imola was the Italian Grand Prix in 1980, which had relocated from Monza for one year. The inaugural San Marino Grand Prix took place the following year at the Imola circuit, and since then McLaren has won the event six times, with David securing the most recent victory in 1998.

David's win is included in his total of four podium finishes achieved in the past four San Marino Grands Prix. The West McLaren Mercedes team has also started the last four races from pole position; David leading the pack in 1998 and 2001, with Mika Hakkinen taking first place on the grid in 1998 and 2000.


"I was pleased to be back on the podium in Brazil for the West McLaren Mercedes team. The result demonstrated that we are moving in the right direction and I am now able to begin my 2002 Championship challenge in earnest. I have a good record at the San Marino Grand Prix, having secured podium finishes in the previous four races, and I am aiming to extend this run at the weekend. The anti-clockwise circuit offers limited overtaking opportunities, with the best chance through the Tosa hairpin."


"The West McLaren Mercedes team has completed a positive test session this week in Valencia. We put in some fast times and long distances, and are now looking forward to the race at Imola. My experiences at the track, which is characterised by a number of elevation changes, are mixed. In the 2001 race my steering wheel came off and I was not able to finish the race. However I am hoping to secure another points finish to add to my third position in Australia."


"Although David's podium finish in Brazil was encouraging for the West McLaren Mercedes team, we are under no illusions. There is a lot of hard work required to ensure that we are consistently competitive over Grand Prix weekends, and the whole team is focused on continuing the programme to improve our performance and reliability. The Imola circuit's fast straights and tight corners demand a medium downforce configuration, and can be tough on brakes."


"It's nice to be back in Imola for the start of the European Grand Prix season. The circuit features a combination of fast sections, tight chicanes and slow corners. The ambient temperatures will be definitely lower than those we experienced in the previous Grand Prix at Interlagos, where our engines ran reliably in hot weather conditions on a very bumpy circuit. We have made a step forward since the beginning of the season and the whole team is working extremely hard for more steps to follow."

Lap of Imola with Alex Wurz, West McLaren Mercedes third driver

Accelerating hard along the short pit straight at Imola, you reach 180mph / 289kph in seventh gear as you wind through the scenic Italian countryside. You brake hard for the left-right-left Tamburello chicane, which is negotiated at 75mph / 125kph in second gear through the left-hand entry. You lift slightly for the middle of the chicane, a right hander, and as you exit the final left flick, you push hard and flat on the throttle, achieving a speed of 185mph / 296kph in seventh gear along the straight that leads to Villeneuve.

The left-right chicane is taken at 105mph / 170kph in third gear. A short burst of power takes you down to the tight left hairpin of Tosa, which is negotiated at 55mph / 88kph in second. On the exit you climb up the hill towards the flowing Piratella. Powering up through the gears, you reach 175mph / 281kph in sixth gear along the straight before hitting the brakes for the 125mph / 201kph bumpy left-hander. The track then drops downhill, this sees you reach some 165mph / 265kph in sixth gear before dabbing the brakes for the slight left hand flick before braking hard for the bumpy right of Acque Minerali, which is taken in second gear at 70mph / 110kph.

Accelerating out of the Acque Minerali, your speed increases to 165mph / 270kph in sixth gear on the straight that leads you to the Variante Alta. This chicane is negotiated at a minimum speed of 75mph / 125kph in third gear and sees the cars riding the curbs quite hard. This leads you onto another straight, which sees your speed increase to 178mph / 286kph in seventh gear. Braking for Rivazza is quite difficult and hard for the brakes as the track drops downhill, the double left swings you round 180 degrees and is taken at 60mph / 100kph in second.

On the exit you accelerate hard along the Variante Bassa straight, which sees you reach 180mph / 290kph in seventh before braking hard for the right-left flick of Traguardo. Taken in second gear at 59mph / 94kph, the final chicane flicks you back onto the start-finish straight to begin another lap.


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Mika Hakkinen , Kimi Raikkonen , Alexander Wurz
Teams Mercedes , McLaren