US GP: McLaren preview

Following Lewis Hamilton's maiden win at the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday, Fernando Alonso, Lewis and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes now relocate to Indianapolis for the 2007 United States Grand Prix. Held at the renowned Indianapolis Motor...

Following Lewis Hamilton's maiden win at the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday, Fernando Alonso, Lewis and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes now relocate to Indianapolis for the 2007 United States Grand Prix.

Held at the renowned Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the team arrives at the track still leading the Constructors' title with a total of 88 points. Ferrari is the closest challenger with a score of 60 points. Lewis and Fernando head the Drivers' Championship with 48 and 40 points respectively.


How does the team handle the fast oval and slower infield sections of the track?

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a track of contrasts, with a long, fast main straight that sees the Formula 1 cars run at full throttle for 22 seconds and a very tight, twisty infield section with a number of very slow and tricky corners. For the infield you need good traction, so the car has to be set-up to allow for both characteristics with the cars. The high speed element of the track also includes a very high speed corner. This leads to a set-up compromise, a low - medium downforce configuration with relatively soft mechanical set-up to find the grip for the infield.

When did Formula 1 start racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?

Formula 1 made its return to the United States at the IMS in 2000, ending a nine year hiatus. Since the inaugural United States Grand Prix in 1959, Sebring, Riverside, Watkins Glen, Long Beach, Detroit, Dallas and Phoenix all hosted the event before it settled in Indianapolis. Built in the early 20th century, the Motor Speedway was initially a test track for the motor industry in Detroit.

In the forties the track was asphalted, except a yard of bricks at the start-finish line, giving rise to the 'Brickyard' nickname. Founder Bruce McLaren began the team's history in the race when he took victory in the first United States Grand Prix in 1959, four years before the team was formed. Since the team's United States Formula 1 debut in 1966, McLaren has been the most successful Formula 1 Constructor, with nine race victories. Mika Hakkinen secured the team's most recent win in 2001.

The McLaren marque has also seen success in other American motorsport events. In the late 60s, McLaren dominated the CAN-AM championship, winning the title on five occasions. In addition the team has won the illustrious Indianapolis 500 three time, in 1972 with Mark Donohue and Johnny Rutherford taking victory twice, in 1974 and 1976. Mercedes-Benz has also won the Indy 500 when Al Unser Jr. took victory in 1994 at the wheel of a Penske-Mercedes.

Where will Fernando and Lewis visit between the Canadian and United States Grands Prix?

Fernando will remain in Canada before leaving for the Motor Speedway mid-week. Lewis flew into New York for a couple of days, before travelling to Indianapolis after having visited Mercedes-Benz USA in Montvale ExxonMobil in Fairfax.

Fernando Alonso:

"Canada was a tough and frustrating race for me, but at least I left Montreal with some points and am in a strong second position in the Championship, which is not won or lost in one race. I am in a good situation in the table, the car is great, it is definitely capable of winning races and I am looking forward to getting back out on track in America and hopefully having no safety cars."

"I have not had very good results in this race in the previous years, it was better last year than in 2005, so I am hoping it will improve again this year! It is always great to go racing at Indy, fans at Indy are fantastic, they are pretty serious about their motor racing and their passion means there is a great atmosphere. I hope we are able to go out there and put on a good race for them."

"Indy is another of the tracks that I want to win at, it is so historic and is a very important circuit in this sport, to have a trophy from there in my collection would be fantastic. There are opportunities to overtake at the Motor Speedway, the main one is probably if you slipstream another car on the start-finish straight, but you need to have a very fast straightline speed to make this work. This is why we have such a low level of downforce."

Lewis Hamilton:

"It still hasn't really sunk in that I have won my first race, it was an amazing weekend for me and it is fantastic that we are racing again already this weekend. The Motor Speedway is another tough circuit on the cars, I hope we are as competitive, but until we get out on the circuit on Friday we can't really predict how it is going to go."

"I am really excited to be racing at Indianapolis. It is such a legendary venue, you can't escape the history here and I am looking forward to experiencing the atmosphere for the first time. The track has the unique characteristic of the banking, but from what I hear it doesn't have a massive impact on the cars, but it will be pretty cool!"

"To be going into race seven of the Championship in the position I am in is amazing; however it is still early days. This will be my seventh race and I am very much still learning. There are 11 more this season including Indy and that is a long way to go with a lot of hard work ahead. I have enjoyed the season so far, but am aware racing isn't predicable and anything could happen at the next race."

Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula 1, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes:

"After a great weekend for Lewis, we now move to a definite highlight of the year for the sport, the United States Grand Prix. It is a very challenging race and we are not in the position to predict our performance relative to our key competitors. For Fernando, Lewis and the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team to be going into race seven of season at the top of both Championships is a satisfying situation to be in, we are not resting on our laurels."

"The pace of work at the McLaren Technology Centre, Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines and in Stuttgart this week is as intense as before, if not more so. We are bringing developments on line for the United States Grand Prix as we work towards extending the performance gap. This is going to require a lot of hard and focused work, and we will face powerful competition from our rivals."

Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:

"The automobile market in the USA is the biggest one for Mercedes-Benz outside Germany; therefore, it is nice to arrive in Indianapolis as the leaders in both World Championships. At this traditional circuit, it is our target to continue the performance we have shown so far this season."

"We won three out of the six races so far, the last two ones in a row, we achieved ten out of 12 possible podium positions, and we are the only team to complete all 384 race laps and 1,800 kilometres with both cars and to score always points with both drivers."

"The track layout is challenging and the sector with 22 seconds of consecutive full throttle is particularly demanding for the engines. The task for the infield is exactly the opposite and to be fast you need a good compromise between top speed and good balance in corners. We are well prepared to match these requirements.

-credit: mclaren

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Mika Hakkinen , Al Unser Jr. , Fernando Alonso , Norbert Haug , Bruce McLaren , Lewis Hamilton , Mark Donohue , Martin Whitmarsh , Johnny Rutherford
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren