As the summer break from Grand Prix racing comes to an end, the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team relocates to the Istanbul Park circuit for the 12th Grand Prix of the 2007 Formula 1 World Championship. The race marks the 100th Grand Prix start for...
As the summer break from Grand Prix racing comes to an end, the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team relocates to the Istanbul Park circuit for the 12th Grand Prix of the 2007 Formula 1 World Championship.
The race marks the 100th Grand Prix start for the team's Double World Champion. Fernando Alonso made his Formula 1 debut at the 2001 Australian Grand Prix and in this time has amassed an impressive total of 18 victories, including three this season with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, on his way to achieving back to back Drivers' titles.
Fernando currently lies in second position in the 2007 standings with 73 points, just seven behind his Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton who leads with 80. The team currently has a total of 138 points, 19 ahead of nearest challengers Ferrari.
How has the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team spent the extended break since the Hungarian Grand Prix?
Whilst the longer gap between races allows the members of the team who travel to every Grand Prix, such as the race team mechanics, the opportunity to take a well-earned holiday, there is no let up in the pace of development across the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team. Over this period we have made developments to the MP4-22 using the resources we have available to us at the McLaren Technology Centre. Most significantly we have continued to develop the aerodynamic bodywork using Computational Fluid Dynamics and the Wind Tunnel and optimise the suspension through the Simulation and Vehicle Dynamics departments.
How does the team's freight journey to Turkey?
The Grand Prix in Istanbul is the longest journey the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team makes with the fleet of Mercedes-Benz Actros race transporters, at just over 1560kms. The distance sees the teams use a ferry crossing from the Italian port of Trieste, which is located in the North East of the country. The first of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes fleet left for Turkey directly from the Hungarian Grand Prix, sailing for Istanbul on Sunday 12th August. This included the race garage build truck and the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Brand Centre. Four of the five race transporters left the McLaren Technology Centre late on Sunday 12th, catching the ferry in Trieste on Wednesday 15th before arriving in Istanbul on Saturday 18th. The final transporter departed Woking on Thursday 15th, to get the last ferry possible, arriving in Istanbul in time for the start of the Grand Prix Weekend
"It is always great to have a break and re-charge the batteries, but it is fantastic to be getting back out on track in Turkey. I have a solid points total in the Drivers' World Championship and I am aiming to build on that considerably in Istanbul. We are in a strong position in both Championships and there are a lot of points to be won in the final six races. However, we are looking at the races one by one, and my focus is on this Grand Prix and getting the best result possible in Turkey. I have come second in the two years we have raced here previously and I will be aiming to improve on that this time."
"The track is great to drive, with some sections that are really on the limit and what you want to race on as a driver, turn eight in particular. It tends to be very hot at this race and this can have an effect on tyre wear. We race anti-clockwise and this also adds to the tyre wear, with the front right higher than at other tracks. The final factor is that the track is one of the fastest circuits on the calendar, with long fast corners, and this is also tough on tyres but we will work with Bridgestone to set the cars up to cope with these characteristics."
"I have great memories of the Istanbul Park, last year this was a defining race in the GP2 Championship for me and I am really looking forward to getting out there with the MP4-22. It is an amazing track to drive, with so many different challenges, and overtaking is possible. The circuit is pretty wide, which always helps when you are trying to pass. Having dropped down to the back of the field after spinning on the second lap last year, I spent the race working my way back up to second, it felt like a win and it would be great to get on the top step this year!"
"It is a very physically demanding circuit, all the fast corners, such as turn eight which is awesome and flat out, and the heat place a big demand on the drivers. During the short summer break I have been keeping up with my training to ensure I am fully prepared for it. Along with the team, I am very motivated right now. There are six races remaining and I am looking forward to the challenge."
Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula 1, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes:
"Every single member of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team is keen to get back to the racing next weekend in Turkey. Each race weekend has its own challenges, we faced some fairly unique ones at the Hungarian Grand Prix and there has been much reportage in the press in the two weeks since; however none of this has affected the preparation and motivation of Fernando, Lewis and the team for this 12th round of the season. In Woking, Brixworth and Stuttgart the work has been relentless as we seek to find the performance enhancements we know we have to achieve in order to continue our battle for both Championships."
Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
"Following the summer break since the Hungarian Grand Prix we are now facing six Grands Prix within the next eight weeks leading up to the season finale in Sao Paulo on 21st October; everybody involved will virtually continue without break until the final Grand Prix of the season. The race on 26th August will be held on a very demanding circuit, which requires a perfect car. Our aim for the sprint up to the season's finale: We want to carry on as we have done in the first 11 races of the season. Everybody in the team is concentrated and focussed, because these six races in two months on three continents will be everything but a walk in the park. However, I think we can say that the races since the season opener in Australia haven't been easy either."