US GP: McLaren preview

The world-renowned Indianapolis Motor Speedway plays host to the SAP United States Grand Prix. The event is the penultimate round of the 2002 FIA Formula One World Championship, and is sponsored for a third consecutive year by SAP, a Corporate ...

The world-renowned Indianapolis Motor Speedway plays host to the SAP United States Grand Prix. The event is the penultimate round of the 2002 FIA Formula One World Championship, and is sponsored for a third consecutive year by SAP, a Corporate Partner of the West McLaren Mercedes team.

The 2002 SAP United States Grand Prix will be the 57th race in America that will have counted towards the Formula One World Championship. Over the years the event has taken place in seven different locations, Sebring, Riverside, Watkins Glen, Long Beach, Detroit, Dallas and Phoenix, before relocating to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2000, after a nine-year gap from the calendar.

Located 5 miles/8kms North-west of Indianapolis, the Motor Speedway was originally built as a test track for the Detroit motor industry in the early 19th century. The circuit became a motorsport venue soon after and was paved with bricks. When the surface was covered with asphalt in the forties, a yard of bricks was left exposed on the start-finish line, which gave rise to the 'Brickyard' nickname. The Formula One circuit at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway incorporates the main straight and turn one of the oval and runs clockwise, the opposite direction to usual at the track. The race also sees the first use of the SAFER barrier system in Formula One, which is designed to absorb energy in the event of an incident.

Last year's race saw Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard take a double podium finish for the West McLaren Mercedes team. Mika secured what was to become the final victory of his Formula One career, and extended McLaren's run of wins at the United States Grand Prix to five out of the past six races.

The McLaren name has long been associated with American motorsport, having been a dominant force in the CAN-AM Championship in the late sixties and securing three Indy 500 crowns. Founder Bruce McLaren also took victory at the inaugural official American Formula One event, held at Sebring in 1959, four years before he formed the McLaren team. The Indy 500 had previously been included on the Formula One calendar in the fifties.


"Indianapolis is among the most historical and prestigious racing venues in the world, in my mind it is up there with Monaco and Spa. I have enjoyed the previous two SAP United States Grands Prix very much and am looking forward to this year's race. I've secured points finishes in both of the previous races, and this is a record I am looking to continue. Although it was an incredibly emotional weekend last year, the American fans once again created a fantastic atmosphere and I hope we can put on a good show for them. There are a couple of clear overtaking opportunities at the track, the primary one being under braking into the first corner, that leads you off the oval."


"The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Grand Prix circuit offers a good mix of challenges, with the sweeping banked corner, which is unique in modern Formula One, and the twisty infield section in the centre of the oval. This contrast leads to a set-up compromise so that we can optimise the performance of the MP4-17 in the different sections of the track. I remember from last year that the track is fun to drive, and am hoping to put in more laps during the race than I did in 2001!"


"Racing in America is beneficial in many ways to Formula One, the West McLaren Mercedes team and our Partners, perhaps the key reason being that it enables us to call it a true world championship. The team has been testing in the build-up to the 2002 SAP United States Grand Prix at the Barcelona circuit in Spain, with David and Alex Wurz at the wheel. We had a positive week and are planning to implement some developments for this race, which we hope will enable us to help to put on an interesting and exciting race that will continue to raise the profile of Formula One in America."


"The SAP United States Grand Prix is an important event for us. Indianapolis is probably the best known circuit in the world and it is great for Formula One to be there. North America is the second largest market for Mercedes-Benz. The combination of the 1.7 kilometres long oval section with the slow and tricky infield makes the Indianapolis circuit a real challenge for the chassis and the engine. One unique feature of the circuit layout is its long, high speed part of more than 20 seconds of uninterrupted full throttle."


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen , Alexander Wurz , Bruce McLaren
Teams Mercedes , McLaren