German GP - McLaren Mercedes - Preview
This weekend the McLaren team will be putting on a show at the Goodwood Festival of Speed with the classic MP4/4 which won 15 or 16 races in 1988 and last year’s title winning MP4-23. However, the main focus for the team at the moment
is this year’s challenger - the MP4-24 - which will be in action a week today as practice for the German Grand Prix weekend gets underway.
With engine supply and partial ownership from Mercedes Benz, the Nurburgring event is particularly important to the Woking-based team, but with just 13 points on the board from eight races the team admit that a third straight German success is all but impossible.
“While we can’t expect to match our previous record in Germany, where we’ve won the race for the past two seasons, we’re still pushing hard to develop MP4-24 into a more competitive proposition,” stated Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh. “Make no mistake, we’re hugely proud of having the Mercedes-Benz three-pointed star on the front of our cars – and nothing would make us prouder than getting back to the front again as soon as we possibly can.”
Whitmarsh’s comments were backed up by Mercedes Motorsport Vice President Norbert Haug. “This year, we will start without a chance of winning, because our work of improving the car did not bring the desired success,” he said. “Therefore, we have to continue working extremely hard. At the Nurburgring, the Silver Arrows were born and we will commemorate their 75th anniversary with a parade on the racetrack and an exhibition at the paddock entrance to present their unique history to every Nurburgring visitor as well as to the world’s TV viewers.”
Lewis Hamilton has not scored since the Bahrain Grand Prix and in recent races the trend has been distinctively downwards for the defending champion.
With nine points on the board last year’s race winner knows that points will be hard to come by, especially as the MP4-24 does not feature any development parts for the race weekend.
“It’s a fantastic circuit, a little older than a lot of the current tracks we currently visit and with quite a different feel to what we’re used to - it’s fast and flowing with some good spots for overtaking,” said Hamilton. “And it’s in a fantastic part of the world too; deep in the forests of western Germany, where the fans seem to live and breathe Formula One. It’s always an amazing party atmosphere whenever we race in Germany. While we aren’t expecting any major upgrades for this weekend, I’m still looking forward to the race.”
While Hamilton is suffering a tough third season in the sport, team-mate Heikki Kovalainen is having an even tougher time with just one points score and two other finishes. Naturally the Finn is hoping for better in Germany.
“Coming to Germany is the perfect time to pay tribute to the efforts of everyone at Mercedes-Benz,” Kovalainen said. “Their engines are probably the most powerful and most reliable in the sport and their KERS is also fantastic. Myself, Lewis and the rest of the team are working hard to develop this car – it’s a long process, but we are all pulling together and we’re hopeful of making some further steps soon.”