McLaren hoping for kickstart in Bahrain
31 March 2004
MANAMA – When McLaren-Mercedes drivers Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard line up for Sunday’s inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix it will be in the knowledge that the British-German based team hasn’t won a Formula One race since the 2003 Malaysian GP over a year ago.
Raikkonen, who finished runner-up to Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher last season, has failed to finish in the first two races of the 2004 season in Australia and Malaysia while Coulthard finished a lowly eighth and sixth respectively.
As a result, Schumacher already has a 20-point lead over the Finn and McLaren boss Ron Dennis admits his team needs to start challenging for the higher places sooner rather than later.
“It’s a mountain to climb, ‘but we’re climbing it,” said Dennis who must have been heartened by the fact that the MP4-19 car got to within a second-per-lap of the all-conquering Ferraris in Malaysia.
Raikkonen, meanwhile, is simply looking forward to racing at the Bahrain International Circuit for the first time.
“The Bahrain Grand Prix has the potential to be another warm race due to its desert location, but nothing like the heat and the sapping humidity we had in Malaysia,” said the 24-year-old.
“My understanding of the circuit itself is that there are a good variety of challenges on the circuit, from the four long straights with real overtaking opportunities at the end and some fast sweeping sections at the back of the circuit.
“All this will hopefully make for interesting racing, and I reckon it will be a good race from the start as we will probably be able to pick-up quite a bit of speed along the main straight from the lights to the first corner, before braking hard as we all funnel into the tight right hander.”
Raikkonen also believes there are overtaking opportunities to be had on the left of turn two, which should make for an exciting race.
“Also, the track has been designed to be spectator friendly, so hopefully there will be a good atmosphere at the event,” he said.
Teammate Coulthard, who leaves McLaren at the end of the season, is also looking forward to racing on the “Circuit of Sand” and sees it as a new challenge.
“With any new event, there are of course factors that are tricky to understand until the race itself, and the main example with Bahrain is what impact the sand from the surrounding desert will have,” said the Scot.
“I understand the organisers have taken measures to combat this but we shall have to wait and see what happens.”
Subject: German News