SPANISH GRAND PRIX 1997 RACE DAY ================================ Having had a very good start to the Barcelona Grand Prix the West McLaren Mercedes Team were disappointed...
SPANISH GRAND PRIX 1997 RACE DAY ================================ Having had a very good start to the Barcelona Grand Prix the West McLaren Mercedes Team were disappointed to cross the finish line in sixth and seventh positions. Tyre performance was always going to be the single most important contributing factor to the outcome of the race. One hour of sustained rain after the race warm up and twenty five mile an hour change in wind direction made it extremely difficult for all the teams to predict and adapt the set up for the cars. David's fastest lap of 1:22.340, being two tenths faster than the winners quickest laps puts some light at the end of the tunnel.
DAVID COULTHARD: 'Three stops were always going to make life difficult for us, but I could have done with four as I had no grip left in the final lap and Johnny was able to slip by which was disappointing. Overall I would say that we now understand the car far better in qualifying but on this type of circuit nearly everybody required a more durable tyres'.
MIKA HAKKINEN: 'The start was very good and we were all very close in the first corner. However, like everyone else I was struggling with rear grip throughout the race during the last stop we were able to make some adjustments to the aerodynamic balance which enabled me to push harder. Of course the result is very disappointing, but over the course of the weekend the team have made some important improvements and whilst the results do not show it we have significantly improved our competitiveness.'
RON DENNIS: 'Like most teams high levels of tyre wear and degradation forced us into a three stop strategy. A good start by both our drivers was complemented by the initial performance of the cars on their first set of tyres. For reasons that at this stage we do not understand, the subsequent sets of tyres proved to be extremely inconsistent, not only making life very difficult for the drivers, but also forcing us into earlier second stops than were originally planned. When you are in a tyre war these types of races are inevitable; thirty seconds covering the first six cars illustrates the adnormallity of it all. We must take some comfort from our strong qualifying performance which should continue for the remainder of the season and more importantly reflect through to our race results.
NORBERT HAUG: 'The problems we encountered with the tyres forced with the tyres forced us into a much longer final stint than we had orignally planned. We were thiry seconds behind the winner and a few things during the race worked against us. First of all, David was stuck behind Michael Schumacher then he complained about his second set of tyres and came in earlier than orignally anticipated which was, in the end, too much for the set up and tyres. Never the less practice, qualifying and the first part of the race showed that we are working in the right direction in improving our speed. Nothing emphasises more the competitiveness of Formula One that a solitary point coming from so much effort.