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British GP: Preview - McLaren

NEWS STORY
04/07/2007

The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team travels to Silverstone, which is located approximately 125km from the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking and 35km from Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines in Brixworth, this week for one of the team’s home races of 2007, the Santander British Grand Prix.

The race marks the mid point of the 2007 Formula 1 World Championship, with a further eight Grands Prix remaining. At this middle stage of the season, the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team lies in first position of the Constructors’ table with 114 points. Lewis and Fernando continue to lead the Drivers’ standings with 64 and 50 points respectively. This is the first time that Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Corporate Partner Santander has been the Title Sponsor of a Grand Prix, which is considered by Santander as a key activity this year in their commitment to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and the sport.

Why is aerodynamic efficiency key at Silverstone?
Silverstone is renowned for its super high speed corners that populate the first half of the circuit. These demand optimum aero efficiency and a stable balance; this allows the drivers to attack the fast corners and get a good lap time. In addition, it is essential to have good mechanical grip for the latter part of the track; so whilst the aerodynamic performance is vital, so is a compromise with the set-up.

At the 2006 race, the lap times around Silverstone were faster despite the use of V8 engines. Will the control Bridgestone Potenzas have any effect on lap time this season?
At the race last year, the cars had more grip because of the use of softer tyres, and this meant that despite the V8 engines, lap times were faster and the cars were quicker in the corners. The Bridgestone Potenza tyres are not as soft this year, and as a result, the cars carry marginally less speed through the corners, particularly at the start of the track. However the difference from 2006 to 2007 will not be as marked as from 2005 to 2006 lap times.

Why is the Maggots - Becketts - Chapel sequence so renowned?
This complex is one of the most legendary sequences in Formula 1. At the start of the track, the S bends see the drivers flicked left through Maggots, before an immediate right-left flick of Becketts that leads you into Chapel. This slightly longer right hander is followed by a sweeping left that takes you onto the long Hanger straight. This series of high speed direction changes see the cars pushed to their limits and the drivers put under heavy g-force, as they try to hook up the apexes. It is one of the best locations to watch a Formula 1 car in action.

When did motor racing arrive at Silverstone?
Silverstone was the host venue of the first race in the history of Formula 1, which took place on 13th May 1950, The then 4.7km track had originally been an airfield. Since 1950, 40 British Grands Prix have been hosted at Silverstone, with Aintree and Brands Hatch running the event on five and twelve occasions respectively. McLaren has won 13 out of the 41 British Grands Prix it has entered to date. The team has won four of the last eight races including Juan Pablo Montoya's maiden win for the outfit in 2005, David Coulthard’s victories in 1999 and 2000, which was a double victory ahead of Mika Hakkinen, and Mika’s win in 2001.

Fernando Alonso: "After the race at Magny Cours, which was always going to be challenging following qualifying, we came away with a decent result considering and we are now focusing on a more positive weekend at the Santander British Grand Prix. Silverstone has always been a special race for me as it is one of the biggest Grands Prix of the year and has a unique atmosphere. The fans have a big passion and knowledge for the sport; and it is always a pleasure to race in front of the British crowd. This is even more the case this year as it will be the first time in front of lots of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes employees who will be attending the race; it definitely gives extra motivation. It was a special win for me last year; it was very competitive and tough, but that is always the way at Silverstone. It is great fun to race here as there are some great corners; Copse is one of the fastest we race through. We drive it flat out; it is very quick in the entry with a short apex and you have to get the line just right. Because of all the speed, the car needs to have good handling balance. The track surface is quite bumpy and this can mean visibility is quite bad at some points of the track and you need a good ride height. Overtaking is also possible; probably the best places to do this are through Stowe, Vale and Club."

Lewis Hamilton: "Without a doubt, the Santander British Grand Prix will be the biggest race of the year for me, as it’s my debut home race. It is going to be another new experience, I expect the atmosphere will be incredible and I cannot wait to race in front of my home fans. To win at this race would be immense, but we have to be realistic with our expectations. This is one race out of 17 and as with all the Grands Prix, I will do my best to win for the fans, but the most important thing for them is to enjoy the whole weekend whatever the result will be. Silverstone always seems to have great races. I certainly had fun here last year as you can really push the limits. That weekend with GP2 last year is something I will never forget; the response from the crowd was like nothing I had ever experienced before and I can’t wait to get back out on track. The Silverstone circuit is very different to Magny Cours due to all the high speed corners. It still needs a set-up compromise to make sure we have high speed stability for first section and grip for the latter part with the slower corners such as Priory and Brooklands. You are also under heavy loadings for much of the lap, so it is quite tough. I hope everyone enjoys the race and the team has a great result."

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