McLaren Mercedes

Formula 1 Team reports for the 2009 F1 season includes race previews, reports and reviews
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McLaren Mercedes

Postby Ed » Sat Mar 21, 2009 2:18 pm

2009 AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX PREVIEW

Lewis Hamilton

“There is no better place to begin the FIA Formula 1 World Championship than in Australia. The weather is fantastic, the facilities are excellent and the people of Melbourne make us all feel extremely welcome. Most importantly, everyone arrives with an air of enthusiasm and expectation. Despite weeks of winter testing, it’s still difficult to know exactly who has the best package, and finding out over the weekend in Albert Park is always fascinating. Perhaps Vodafone McLaren Mercedes doesn’t come to Melbourne with the same prospects to challenge at the front that we experienced in both 2007 and ’08, but the whole team will be working tirelessly to help us move back to the front.”

Heikki Kovalainen

“I had a great race in Melbourne last year on my debut for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. It’s a track I love – a circuit that you really have to attack with a lot of enthusiasm if you are to get the best from the car. The fast esses at the back of the circuit are probably the most demanding corners – getting it just right is a hugely satisfying feeling. Elsewhere, I enjoy the ‘back to school’ feeling of the new season – you meet up with everybody, share your stories from the winter and look forward to another good season. Everybody in our team is really motivated and, while we probably won’t start the season as favourites, we will work around the clock to get back there.”

Martin Whitmarsh, team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“We go into the start of the 2009 season fully aware that we do not yet have the technical package that will allow our drivers to fight at the front. In Formula 1, there is nowhere to hide: that’s what makes our sport so demanding and yet so endlessly fascinating. And as a team that goes grand prix racing with the expectation of winning races and challenging for world championships, we therefore go to Melbourne with realistic expectations. Nonetheless, we begin our season with huge determination to re-assert ourselves at the front and we will not rest for a moment until we have done that. Most importantly, we haven’t forgotten how to win.”

Norbert Haug, Vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"Melbourne is the city where – 12 years ago – McLaren-Mercedes achieved their first of 58 grand prix wins since then. After a total of four victories at Albert Park, this time it may not be possible to repeat Lewis’s success of last year. Considering our test results we will not be as competitive at the season opener as we intend to be, and so I do not expect a qualifying result at the front of the grid. However, we will all work hard to return to the front as soon as possible and in Melbourne everybody in the team is fully motivated to do everything to achieve the best possible result."
Last edited by Ed on Sun Apr 05, 2009 11:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Ed » Sat Mar 28, 2009 12:55 am

2009 AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX – FREE PRACTICE ANALYSIS

Albert Park, Friday March 26

Today’s run programme targeted the following objectives: aero and mechanical set-up work, prime and option tyre evaluation, tyre degradation analysis over a long stint.

HEIKKI KOVALAINEN

P1 programme

“Although the track was very green and slippery, the car felt good from the start of the session,” said Heikki. “Our balance was good, particularly in the high-speed corners, and KERS deployed well, working smoothly throughout both sessions.”

Heikki quickly felt comfortable with the car and the operating window of the tyres, setting a 1m27.982s best – which placed him near the top of the P1 timesheets. He followed it up with a six-lap run (1m27.495s) as the track continued to evolve.

P2 programme

Focus shifted from set-up work to tyre evaluation over longer runs. Heikki completed four runs (four laps/1m28.148s; three laps/1m28.757s (cut short by flat-spotting a tyre at Turn Two); 11 laps/1m28.064s (the first on options); nine laps/1m27.802s).

The time differential between the two compounds didn’t appear to be too marked – and both held up well over the course of a stint.

“A reasonable first day – even if the times don’t properly reflect that,” Heikki said, after finishing 17th on a 1m27.802s. “We saw some decent pace and made some progress which was pleasing for the new guys on my car this year.”

LEWIS HAMILTON

P1 programme

Lewis started with a five-lap run (best time 1m30.105s) to form a baseline for the day’s programme. A later four-lap run saw Lewis visibly working his tyres on his first flying lap, yielded a 1m29.042s. A two-lap, final run of the session produced a best of 1m31.747s.

“The first session didn’t prove too productive for us,” said Lewis. “We worked hard to get the prime tyres to operate effectively, but the track conditions and our set-up made it difficult to get them to work, and it didn’t give me the confidence to push hard.”

P2 programme

Some set-up work between the sessions made Lewis more comfortable. He completed runs of six laps (1m27.958s best), seven laps (1m28.431s), seven laps (1m27.813s) and a shorter, three-lap stint (1m29.438s) to evaluate set-up changes.

“The changes we made after P1 made the car feel much better,” said Lewis. “We’re still working to refine the balance – and we have a number of issues still to address – but we are heading in the right direction.”

While the focus of the run programme precluded the setting of low-fuel fast laps, MP4-24’s speed over a long run looks better than testing indicated, although it is too early to accurately predict overall. Lewis finished the day with a 1m27.813s best, 18th fastest.


MARTIN WHITMARSH – team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“We arrived in Australia fully aware that we’d be facing a tough start to the season. But we adhered to a disciplined programme today, focusing on tyre durability work, and weren’t swayed by a desire to post flattering times. Equally, we’re now focusing on implementing the performance steps we’ve planned for the next few races. Overall, then, we’ve made good progress recently but are well aware that we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”

NORBERT HAUG – vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“After the winter tests, we knew that we would have a difficult start into the season. While our car has improved since the Barcelona test, we still have a lot of work to do.”

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Postby mlittle » Mon Mar 30, 2009 11:10 am

Australian GP Race Report
Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes


~~~LEWIS HAMILTON
Started: 18th
Finished: 3rd
Fastest lap: 1m29.020s on lap 39 (13th)
Pitstops: two (O-P-P; lap 11, 12.0s; lap 43, 7.8s)

A fantastic, storming race from Lewis to charge from 18th on the grid to third at the finish. Always on the attack, he profited from the opening-lap melee and an aggressive first stint on low fuel and option tyres to slot into the top 10 by lap five.

He made his first stop on lap 11 (12.0s), where he was long-fuelled and switched to primes. A relentless middle stint saw him surge to fifth: evidence of his push was evident, with several opposite-locking moments clearly visible on successive laps out of Turn Nine.

A second stop (7.8s) on lap 43 and an adjustment to the front-wing settings dropped him to 10th, allowing him to remain ahead of Buemi. Pitting cars pushed him back to seventh, after which he really got his head down, catching and passing Rosberg for sixth (into Turn Nine, on lap 54). The Vettel-Kubica shunt elevated him to fourth and a mistake by Trulli, when behind the Safety Car, vaulted him into the top three -- one of Lewis's greatest ever Formula 1 drives and truly worthy of a world champion.

"We scored way more points than we could have realistically expected," said Lewis: "I was looking to try and get one point, so to get six is a great achievement. We've definitely not forgotten how to win: our strategy was perfect and the team did a fantastic job. Considering the package we've got, I wrung every last ounce of pace out of the car, drove one of my best ever races and absolutely raced my heart out -- I'm so satisfied. Also, my heartfelt congratulations to Jenson -- he's driven brilliantly all weekend and both he and his team really deserve this success."


~~~HEIKKI KOVALAINEN
Started: 12th
Finished: ret
Fastest lap: -
Pitstops: -

Elevated from 14th to 12th by the Toyota grid penalties, Heikki got a good start but was an innocent victim in the first-corner accident, touching wheels with a spinning Mark Webber -- contact that punctured his left-front tyre and damaged his suspension. "Obviously, my race was very short," he said afterwards. "Webber had a moment at the first corner and his front wheel hit my left-front. It was a racing accident -- these things unfortunately happen."

~~~MARTIN WHITMARSH -- team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

"Today was one of those days on which Lewis demonstrated very clearly just what a fantastic racing driver he is. Throughout the race he showed great speed and tenacity, tempered when necessary by commendable patience. The car we supplied him wasn't as competitive as we'd have liked it to be -- we've made no secret of that -- but we're working flat-out, night and day, to improve it. The points Lewis scored today are of course very welcome -- and, as and when we regain our form, we hope they'll take on a greater significance still. As for Heikki, he started with a heavy fuel-load and could also have scored points today -- but, sadly, and blamelessly on his part, his race was ended early on when he happened upon an incident involving two other cars. Lastly, well done to all at Brawn GP -- and of course also to Mercedes-Benz, whose superb engines powered the first three cars."

~~~NORBERT HAUG -- vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"Lewis finally in third place and the best car with KERS -- this is more than we had expected after starting 18th. He drove an excellent race under very difficult circumstances and proved his world-champion class. During the second Safety Car period, Trulli had an off and Lewis overtook him for third place, but he let Trulli past again. But the stewards' decision after the race gave him back third place. It's a shame for Heikki; without the first-corner multiple-car collision which was not his fault, he also could have scored a solid result in this turbulent race. Congratulations to Brawn GP, Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello on their one-two victory -- three times Mercedes-powered cars in the top three makes us happy. Our customer team did a great job and we helped to 'Keep the Customer Satisfied'!"
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Postby mlittle » Fri Apr 03, 2009 10:33 am

Malaysian Grand Prix Preview
Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes

----Lewis Hamilton

"Firstly, we shouldn't get carried away by our podium in Australia. Yes, we had a fantastic race but we're all aware that our car isn't capable of repeating that sort of performance on sheer pace alone. And Sepang is one of the tougher tracks on the calendar, one where we will probably be further from the frontrunners than we were in Albert Park. The track is both fast and technical so requires good mechanical and aero grip. It's much more aero-dependent and rear-limited than Melbourne so it may highlight some of the shortcomings in MP4-24. Nevertheless, we're all really encouraged by the progress we've made and I know we'll be pushing as hard as ever to put more points on the board in Sepang."

----Heikki Kovalainen

"The Sepang track is a challenge because it requires several compromises to get the best set-up. There are plenty of long straights, where you ideally need lower downforce, but that gives the car a tendency to slide too much through the high-speed corners. The best corners are Turns Six and Seven -- the fast left-right esses behind the pits. In the car, you've not only got to find the optimum balance, but also make sure the brakes and cooling are efficient, otherwise you'll be in trouble before you get to the end of the race. The only difficulty for me is the heat; coming from Finland, we often see the same temperature-readings -- but with a minus in front!"

----Martin Whitmarsh, Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

"Despite a good result in the race, our performance in the Australian Grand Prix was not what we would like it to be, and the reality is that this weekend's race in Malaysia is unlikely to offer a significant improvement in fortunes. Nevertheless, we are still pushing to introduce performance to the car -- the close proximity to the opening race means there won't be many large changes to the car but there will be several upgrades to existing components. For us, the mission is clear: we must introduce laptime to our car faster than our rivals to enable us to, firstly, catch the leading runners and then to be able to compete against them. It's a task we take incredibly seriously and are confident that progress will be made sooner rather than later."

----Norbert Haug, Vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"With Lewis in third place, the season opener in Melbourne ended much better for us than we had expected after his 18th grid position. Compared to our test results in Barcelona two and a half weeks ago, we made a good step. This result was mainly due to Lewis's perfect drive and a good strategy by our team. Moreover, some of the incidents in the race went in our favour. However, we cannot expect the same again this coming weekend in Malaysia. We all will work flat out to improve our technical package further -- that's a promise."
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Postby Ed » Fri Apr 03, 2009 10:26 pm

2009 MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX – FREE FRIDAY PRACTICE ANALYSIS

HEIKKI KOVALAINEN MP4-24-03
P1 programme
7 laps - 1m38.483s (20th)

Heikki conducted a single installation lap to evaluate some new bodywork. His first run of the morning (three laps/1m38.483s best) was cut short by traffic and a locked front-right wheel, which flat-spotted the tyre. With the flat-spot compromising efforts, the team shifted emphasis to aero mapping. Heikki completed a final single-lap run before the deteriorating front-right prompted a precautionary halt to proceedings.

“The track grip was immediately good, and less dusty than in Australia,” Heikki said. “We’ve made some good progress with the car’s development.”

P2 programme
40 laps - 1m36.397s (9th)

The team switched to longer runs for the afternoon, carrying out a number of longer runs on both the prime and option tyre. Heikki completed four runs, switching between the option and the prime: 10 laps/1m37.640s; 11 laps/1m37.099s; 11 laps/1m36.401s and four laps/1m36.397s.

“As we started pushing, the car started to move around quite a bit and was more difficult to drive,” Heikki concluded. “But our consistency over the long runs looks quite promising. I just need some aircon in the car – it’s totally boiling!”

LEWIS HAMILTON MP4-24-04

P1 programme
16 laps - 1m36.699s (7th)

Bodywork and aero evaluation filled the morning’s programme. Lewis tried some new components, setting a 1m38.009s best on his four-lap baseline run. “I had no particular issues with the car this morning,” he said.

“Clearly, we still need a bit more grip but our balance, particularly through the high-speed stuff, felt good. The car felt stronger than I expected.” Lewis completed a second run (five laps/1m36.699s) but a final run was curtailed when Lewis hit a bump, locked both wheels and ran wide into the Turn 15 gravel, he continued back to the pits.

P2 programme
11th - 1m36.515s (11th)

With the team following a very disciplined programme throughout the day, neither driver was particularly pushing for a laptime, resulting in Heikki and Lewis finishing the afternoon session in ninth and 11th respectively. Lewis carried out four runs: five laps/1m37.950s; nine laps; 1m37.593s; eight laps/1m36.626s; four laps/1m36.515s. The sweltering conditions required monitoring of MP4-24’s cooling systems, particularly the KERS installation, which has not been tested in such extremes, but the two cars ran reliably in both sessions.

MARTIN WHITMARSH – team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“Once again, we fully utilised the track time during both Friday practice sessions to refine the bodywork developments we are making to MP4-24 and focus on set-up ahead of Sunday’s grand prix – a race we anticipate will be one of the hottest and most demanding of the year. MP4-24 continues to evolve, and today’s programme underlines the encouraging progress we feel we are making with the car.”

NORBERT HAUG – vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“We compared both tyre compounds and posted consistent laptimes. After today, I would not say that we made a step forward but at least it looks as if we are headed in the right direction. The team improved quite a lot since the team test in Barcelona less than a month ago. But everybody inside Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is aware that we still have a lot of work ahead of us until we will be back at the top.”

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Postby Ed » Sat Apr 04, 2009 10:14 pm

2009 MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX – QUALIFYING ANALYSIS

LEWIS HAMILTON MP4-24-04

P3 programme
15 laps 1m36.657s (12th)

Lewis’s morning programme was disrupted by a number of set-up changes after he felt the overnight modifications made by the team had not significantly improved MP4-24. He completed a single exploratory lap on the prime (1m46.341s) before reeling off two late runs on the soft (three laps/1m38.015s; four laps/1m36.657s).

Qualifying
Q1 1m35.280s (12th)
Q2 1m34.905s (13th overall)

Lewis wasn’t totally happy with the balance of his car going into qualifying, but was satisfied with his two option-tyre runs in Q1, setting 12th fastest time of 1m35.280s. Into Q2, the team ran an identical programme, carrying out two low-fuel runs on options, setting a 13th-fastest 1m34.905s and 1m34.970s respectively. He will start tomorrow’s race from 12th, gaining a position following Sebastian Vettel’s 10-place grid penalty.
“We qualified about where we expected to,” said Lewis afterwards. “We don’t yet have the pace to get into Q3 but the balance doesn’t feel too bad – we’re just unable to carry enough speed through the corners. We expect to see some improvements over the next two or three races. For tomorrow, I’m just going to race my heart out, do the best I can and try and score some points.”

HEIKKI KOVALAINEN MP4-24-03

P3 programme
13 laps 1m36.742s (13th)

Heikki only completed one flying lap (1m39.947s) on his first run before he was called back to the pits after an electronic sensor alerted the team to a problem with the left-rear tyre, which was later found to be losing pressure. The issue limited him to a single run later in the session (seven laps/1m36.742s best).

Qualifying

Q1 1m35.023s (5th)
Q2 1m34.924s (14th overall)

Running a cooling-down lap between his fast laps, Heikki was able to set two quick times (1m35.981s and 1m35.637s) on his first run. He improved to fifth overall in Q1 with a 1m35.023s. Into Q2, he again ran two low-fuel single-lap runs, recording a 1m34.924s before refuelling in the pits with a dump churn. His final run of 1m34.949s did not improve his overall position and he finished 14th overall.
Heikki said: “We knew that getting into the top 10 would be tough, so my result was more or less what I expected. The gap to the cars in front is smaller than it was in Melbourne, so I’m confident that we’re headed in the right direction, but we haven’t yet found that extra bit of speed we need. The balance today wasn’t completely to my liking, but I did my best and I’m looking forward to an enjoyable battle in the race tomorrow.”

MARTIN WHITMARSH – team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“We always knew that qualifying would be difficult around Sepang because MP4-24 lacks the aerodynamic downforce needed to match the top teams. That’s no fault of either Lewis or Heikki, who have driven faultlessly all weekend: they just lack the grip needed to get the most from the car through the high-speed corners. Of course, starting 12th and 14th is not where we are accustomed to starting grands prix, but we are confident that the improvements we are preparing for the forthcoming races will allow us to quickly move into the midst of the tight pocket of cars competing for times in Q3.”


NORBERT HAUG – vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“We will start tomorrow's race from about where we thought we would. We have made some small additional improvements to MP4-24 since last weekend’s season opener in Australia but we still missed out on getting into the top 10 by two tenths of a second. Our KERS certainly helped laptimes in sectors one and three and we hope it will also prove beneficial tomorrow and hopefully help us overtake some of the cars that start ahead of us.”

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Postby Ed » Sun Apr 05, 2009 11:37 pm

2009 MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX

LEWIS HAMILTON

Started: 12th
Finished: 7th

Fastest lap: 1m39.141s on lap 17 (11th)
Pitstops: three (O-W-I-W; laps 22-27-30)

Heavily fuelled and starting from 12th on the grid, Lewis attacked from the very start, slotting into 10th and staying in touch with many lighter-fuelled cars until making his first pitstop. Despite lacking the outright downforce of those around him, particularly through the middle sector, Lewis battled with Sebastian Vettel and Nick Heidfeld, eventually moving up to fifth as those around him pitted for tyres and fuel.

His heavier fuel-load allowed him to remain on-track until lap 22, when the rain started falling, and the team fitted full-wets in anticipation of a typical late-afternoon deluge. Lewis said: “It was a very tough call because you could only see the clouds, and then some parts of the track were wetter than others so it was hard to commit.”

When the predicted rains failed to fall, Lewis struggled to keep temperature in the full-wets and, with the rubber disintegrating, the team opted to switch him to inters (lap 27). He then reverted back to full-wets and was fuelled to the end (lap 30) as the heavens opened. “When the rain came down, it was impossible to drive,” explained Lewis. “I was aquaplaning everywhere – these were the most dangerous conditions I’ve ever raced in.”

With the track almost undriveable due to the standing water, the decision was taken to red-flag the race on lap 32, when Lewis was fifth. With the results declared a lap earlier, Lewis was finally classified seventh – scoring one point, as the shortened race merited half-points for the top eight.

“All I could do was try and keep the car on the track,” said Lewis. “It was the correct decision to stop the race because it was just too dangerous for everyone. I love it when it rains, but this was just too much.”

HEIKKI KOVALAINEN

Started: 14th
Finished: ret

Fastest lap: -
Pitstops: -

Heikki’s race was shortlived. Starting 14th, he made a good start to trail Lewis into the first corner but subsequently lost the rear-end of the car entering Turn Five and spun into the gravel. “My start was okay,” he said afterwards. “I was taking it quite carefully and was trying to slot in behind Lewis, then I just lost the rear and spun out. It was my mistake. Game over.”

MARTIN WHITMARSH – team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“The extremely changeable dry-wet conditions made today’s race a very challenging one for all competitors – but, as ever, Lewis’s ability shone brightly in the gathering gloom and the race brought another really impressive performance from him. He kept his head throughout, and the result was a hard-earned point for seventh place. That may not sound like a great deal by our usually high standards – but, given where he started, it’s a step in the right direction. Overall, then, in testing conditions the team did a great job – as did Lewis.”

NORBERT HAUG – vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“A race like a battle. Despite starting from the sixth row on the grid, Lewis was in good shape – and everybody who kept his car on the track in these conditions was a hero today. Congratulations to Jenson Button and Brawn GP on the second consecutive win with Mercedes power; which he both achieved from pole position.”

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Postby Ed » Fri Apr 10, 2009 4:41 pm

CHINESE GRAND PRIX PREVIEW

Lewis Hamilton

“I really enjoy racing in Shanghai – the track is a good blend of fast and slow stuff and it throws up a few nice challenges for the drivers. Finding the right set-up is important, you need speed and balance through the high-speed corners but decent mechanical grip for the hairpins. We got it spot-on last year, and while I don’t expect us to enjoy that sort of performance advantage this season, I think we’re all looking forward to a good showing. Hopefully, some of the upgrades we’ve added to MP4-24 for this race will have a benefit: it would be very encouraging if we could qualify a little further up the grid and be regularly challenging for points.”

Heikki Kovalainen

“The best corners on the Shanghai International Circuit are Turns Six and Seven – the fast, sweeping left- and right-handers. The left is almost flat in sixth before you shift down a gear and change direction at very high speed. It’s difficult to find the ideal set-up because of the variety of different corners: there’s some heavy braking, fast esses and high-speed changes of direction, which require a good aero package, and some slower corners where mechanical grip is important. It’s all about compromise – it’s a real challenge for the drivers and the engineers. But at least you can overtake – mainly into Turns Four, 10 and 13 – so I hope we’ll see some great racing this weekend.”

Martin Whitmarsh, team principal Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“We have reasons to be both disappointed and optimistic about our performance in the opening races of the 2009 season: disappointed because we do not yet possess the necessary technical package to enable us to fight with the leaders, but optimistic that our rate of progress is sufficiently rapid that we should be able to fight for points finishes on a regular basis. This weekend’s race will see a number of new components introduced to MP4-24, and while we do not expect them to radically transform the car’s potential, they should move us a little closer to the front than we saw in the opening two races.”

Norbert Haug, vice-president Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“Last year, Lewis drove an excellent race on this challenging circuit and won. For this year’s Chinese Grand Prix, it has to be our target to start further up the grid than was the case in the first two grands prix. Those two races showed that points-finishes or even podiums were possible, even when the basic speed was not good enough. The team has developed further technical and aerodynamic improvements which should enable us to make another small step forward.”

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Postby Ed » Fri Apr 17, 2009 12:08 am

McLaren restructures Group to create independent McLaren Automotive company

At a press conference held this morning at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, Surrey (UK), McLaren Group Chairman Ron Dennis announced a major restructuring of the McLaren Group.

McLaren has for more than two years been engaged in a programme to develop a range of pure McLaren sports cars that will build on the great successes of the McLaren F1 and Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. As part of this plan, it is intended that McLaren Automotive, currently one of a number of companies within the McLaren Group, will become an independent company later this year. The launch date for the first model in the new range of McLaren sports cars will be in 2011.

McLaren Automotive is intending to raise fresh equity in addition to the existing investment in the business to complete the development of the planned vehicle programmes. It has appointed Credit Suisse as its financial advisor, to facilitate this process.

Ron Dennis said: "With planned additional investment in the company of £250 million, proposals in place for a new McLaren car production facility in the UK, and the potential for up to 800 skilled jobs, McLaren Automotive’s expansion will represent a significant investment in the UK automotive industry."

A number of organisational changes have also been announced today, which are designed to facilitate the next stage of McLaren’s corporate development:

- As Executive Chairman of McLaren Automotive, Ron Dennis will lead the growth of the new sports car business. As of today, Ron Dennis has handed his responsibility as Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Racing to Martin Whitmarsh, who will be responsible to the board for the activities of McLaren Racing in addition to his role of Team Principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.

- On June 1st 2009 Richard Lapthorne will be appointed Non Executive Chairman of the McLaren Group and a Non Executive Director of McLaren Automotive.

Richard Lapthorne said: "This is a very exciting time to be joining the McLaren Group and to be working closely with Ron and his team on McLaren Automotive’s expansion into the sports car market. It’s a rare opportunity to be involved at a key stage in the development of a British sports car company of an entirely new sort, especially one that has such a great racing pedigree and such a world-class reputation as McLaren.”

Reflecting on his life in Formula 1, Ron Dennis concluded by saying: “I passed the role of Team Principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes to Martin Whitmarsh on January 16th, the day of the launch of our new Formula 1 car. That day I was asked many times whether I would attend the 2009 Australian Grand Prix. My answer was “yes”. I duly attended it - albeit not as the person in charge of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. It was, I admit, a strange feeling.

“The next race, the Malaysian Grand Prix, I watched on TV in the UK – an activity I found surprisingly easy. I’d expected to be more emotional about it, after an unbroken run of attending so many grands prix for so many years.

“I admit I’m not always easy to get on with. I admit I’ve always fought hard for McLaren in Formula 1. I doubt if Max Mosley or Bernie Ecclestone will be displeased by my decision. But no-one asked me to do it. It was my decision.

“Equally, I was the architect of today’s restructure of the McLaren Group. Again, no-one asked me to do it. It was my decision.

“I feel enormously enthused about the prospects for the McLaren Group and for McLaren Automotive, and have no qualms about leaving Martin to report to the board regarding matters connected with Formula 1.”

About McLaren:
The McLaren Group comprises McLaren Automotive, McLaren Racing, McLaren Marketing, McLaren Electronic Systems, McLaren Applied Technologies and Absolute Taste.

The shareholding of the McLaren Group is as follows: Daimler (Mercedes-Benz) 40%; Bahraini Mumtalakat Holding Company 30%; Tag Group (Mansour Ojjeh) 15%; Ron Dennis 15%

From 1993 until 1998, McLaren Cars (the forerunner to McLaren Automotive) designed and manufactured the iconic McLaren F1 super sports car. McLaren Automotive has successfully designed and manufactured the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren range of premium sports cars over the past six years, and will continue to do so until the end of 2009.

Richard Lapthorne is Chairman of Cable and Wireless plc. Recently he was also Chairman of Morse plc and of the private equity owned fashion retailer New Look. His career started with Unilever where in 18 years he worked in the UK, Paris, Holland and Africa. He then moved to Courtaulds plc as Group Financial Controller, becoming Finance Director in 1986 as well as Chairman of the US Group. He joined British Aerospace plc in July 1992 and was a key member of the management team responsible for transforming the company into Europe’s leading aerospace and defence company. He retired as Vice Chairman in 1999. He started his non-executive career with Amersham International plc in 1989, becoming Chairman from 1996 until 2003. He has held a number of other directorships including Robert Fleming, the merchant bank, Oasis International Leasing in Abu Dhabi, Chairman of Avecia (spun off from Astra Zeneca), Chairman of TI Automotive (spun off from Smiths Group), Chairman of Tunstall and Chairman of Arlington Securities. Between 1999 and 2004 he served on the Navy Board. He led the Working Age project in 2000. He is a current member of the HMRC large business advisory board. He is the Queen’s Trustee at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Ron Dennis has been a pioneering force within motorsport since he began his career 42 years ago. In 1966 he joined the Cooper Racing Car Company and progressed to join the Brabham Racing team where in 1968 he was appointed to the position of Chief Mechanic to Sir Jack Brabham. Three years later Ron launched his own company, Rondel Racing, which won races in the Formula 2 Championship. During the 1970s he ran a number of highly successful teams, mainly concentrating on Formula 2 but also competing with distinction in the Procar Championship. In 1980 Ron’s most recent company, Project Four, merged with Team McLaren Ltd to form McLaren Racing. This was to be the catalyst for the great success and diversification that McLaren has enjoyed to date. Since 1980, McLaren has won seven Constructors’ World Championships and ten Drivers’ World Championships. In 1989 Ron co-founded McLaren Cars, which designed and manufactured the revolutionary F1 road car of 1994; now renamed McLaren Automotive, the company produces the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren sports car on behalf of Daimler. Ron's entrepreneurial skills have seen the McLaren Group grow and diversify. It currently encompasses McLaren Automotive, McLaren Electronic Systems, McLaren Applied Technologies, McLaren Marketing and Absolute Taste, all in addition to the flagship, McLaren Racing and its Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 team. During the year 2000 Ron was honoured with a CBE for services to motorsport. In 2001 he was presented with a BRDC Gold Medal in recognition for his contribution to motorsport. He was also awarded an Hon DTech from De Montfort University in 1996, an Hon DSc from City University (London) in 1997 and, in 2000, an Hon DSc from the University of Surrey. In January 2009 Ron announced that he would pass the role of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Team Principal to Martin Whitmarsh.

Ed
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Postby Ed » Fri Apr 17, 2009 8:49 pm

2009 CHINESE GRAND PRIX – FREE PRACTICE ANALYSIS

HEIKKI KOVALAINEN
MP4-24-03

P1 programme
23 laps – 1m37.672s (4th)

Heikki ran a couple of installs on the option tyre before beginning his day’s running, using the prime to notch up three further runs (five laps/1m37.672s best; five laps/1m38.173s and four laps/1m37.716s). He completed a comparison between the old and new front-wing specs although reported a persistent issue with the hydraulic flap system, which compromised his consistency. “I’m very impressed by the performance upgrades for this race,” he said afterwards. “We still need to do more work to find the best balance, but our car definitely feels more stable here.”

P2 programme
34 laps – 1m36.674s (9th)

As with most Friday afternoons, the team ran a tyre comparison programme, particularly looking at the stint-life of the super-soft Bridgestone option, which is expected to be more marginal here than at other circuits. Heikki started the session on primes, running a five-lap stint (1m38.219s) and a longer eight-lap run on a heavier fuel-load (1m37.918s). Towards the end of the session, he did a 10-lap run on options, setting a 1m39.130s best and being impressed by the tyre’s consistency. He ended the day with a couple of quick laps, setting his best time of the day with a 1m36.674s.

LEWIS HAMILTON

MP4-24-04

P1 programme
22 laps – 1m37.334s (1st)

Lewis started the session using the new six-plane front wing and immediately reported an improvement in the front-end. “The car instantly felt a bit better,” he said. “I can definitely feel more stability and downforce from the front.” After two initial install laps, Lewis completed three shorter runs (four laps/1m37.603s; three laps/1m37.334s and four laps 1m37.838s). “We’ve definitely made a step forward for this race,” he concluded. “The car feels much stronger through the corners and I think we’ve got a very positive baseline for the rest of the weekend.”


P2 programme
22 laps – 1m36.941s (13th)

Between-session bodywork changes to the car meant Lewis began P2 a little later than planned as the team turned their focus towards tyre evaluations over longer stints. Lewis did three runs, starting with a shorter five-lap stint on primes (1m36.941s) before testing the super-soft option tyre: seven laps/1m37.341s and nine laps/1m37.283s which showcased the limited life of the softer rubber. “My first run on the options felt quite consistent,” he said, “The drop-off definitely feels manageable. This was a good day, although we still need to work on MP4-24’s medium- and high-speed balance.”


MARTIN WHITMARSH – team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“The team, both at the track and back in the factory, has done a fantastic job to get these bodywork upgrades to Shanghai – and initial analysis would suggest that they have contributed to a slight uplift in our overall competitiveness. We are still working on MP4-24’s overall balance, but nonetheless concluded some productive tyre evaluation work. Heikki’s day was compromised by a hydraulic system problem which failed to adjust his front wing flaps correctly, a fault that distracted both him and his engineers from their regular programme.”

NORBERT HAUG – vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“Seeing Lewis in P1 after this morning’s session brought back some good memories – although we are aware that the team’s package is not yet competitive. Still, the improvements we have made to the car – which are particularly relentless at the moment – should see us making another encouraging step forward. Sunday’s race will be greatly influenced by the performance over a stint of the Bridgestone super-soft, but our consistency on both tyres looks quite okay at this early stage of the weekend.”

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Postby Ed » Sat Apr 18, 2009 11:00 pm

Qualifying Report

LEWIS HAMILTON - MP4-24-04
P3 programme
17 laps 1m36.330s (3rd)

Continuing the set-up direction established during Friday practice, Lewis quickly got down to business in the morning, conducting a five-lap run on primes (1m37.246s best). He carried out two further two-lap runs, setting best times of 1m37.206s and 1m36.330s on primes and options respectively. He finished the session third fastest.

Qualifying
Q1 1m35.776s (4th)
Q2 1m35.740s (6th)
Q3 1m38.595 (9th overall)

Into Q1, Lewis bolted on a set of options and blasted out two fast laps -- a 1m36.381s and a fourth-fastest 1m35.776s, declaring himself extremely satisfied: "They were pretty hardcore laps!" he said. "They were almost beyond the limit." For the second session, Lewis once again underlined MP4-24's pace by setting sixth-fastest time (1m35.740s). Into Q3 for the first time this year, Lewis ended the day ninth fastest (1m38.595s) but pleased with the progress achieved by the team this weekend. "Step by step, we are moving forward," he said. "And thanks to all the guys back at the factory for doing such a fantastic job and for churning away on all the new parts -- every little bit helps us catch the leaders. There's still a long way to go but this definitely feels like the start of the road to recovery."

HEIKKI KOVALAINEN - MP4-24-03
P3 programme
13 laps 1m36.547s (7th)

While Lewis opted to stick with the newer front wing, Heikki preferred to use the FW2 and declared himself satisfied with the car's balance and grip. He ran a four-lap (1m37.172s) and three-lap session (1m36.547s). An overnight change to the prevailing wind direction also prompted further work to re-establish new braking areas for both drivers.

Qualifying
Q1 1m36.646s (14th)
Q2 1m36.032s (12th overall)

Satisfied with his balance in the morning session, Heikki started qualifying in a confident mood, setting a 1m36.646s lap early in the session -- it was enough to place him 14th and meant he was able to abort a later lap and move into Q2. Into the second session, he once again attacked, setting a 1m36.032s despite locking his left-front on the entry to Turn 11. It was enough to place him 12th after a later attempt was again abandoned following a delay in the middle sector. "We've really improved our car this weekend," said Heikki. "It was unfortunate we couldn't go any faster in Q2 but I am glad for the team that Lewis made it into Q3. While 12th position doesn't truly reflect my pace, it's clear that we're heading in the right direction. With the right strategy and some better luck in the opening laps, I'll be aiming for my first points of the year tomorrow.

MARTIN WHITMARSH

"Lewis's ninth place marks the first time this season that we have made it into Q3 and also demonstrates the effort we are putting in back at the McLaren Technology Centre to improve MP4-24. Admittedly, there is still a long way to go -- and we will not be happy until we are back at the front -- but this is an encouraging and significant step for the whole team. Lewis's laps, particularly in Q1 and Q2 were absolutely tremendous and worthy of a great champion. While Heikki was unable to improve on 12th, he and his engineers did a fantastic job together to set the car up. As a result, we go into tomorrow's race seriously optimistic of getting both cars into the points."

NORBERT HAUG

"A great job by Lewis and the team -- since the beginning of the season we have taken steps forward. I believe we have a first-class strategy. There will be cars ahead of us which will make early pitstops, beginning approximately with lap 10, but we want to cover two and a half times as much until our first stop. In Q1, Lewis was fourth, two and half tenths behind first place, in Q2 he was sixth, six tenths behind the best time -- at least, we are making progress compared to Melbourne and Sepang. Two BMWs and one Ferrari will start behind us -- we have the best-placed car with KERS in the field; we are heading in the right direction, but anyway there is still a lot of work to do. Unfortunately, Heikki missed Q3 by just 0.063sec -- that must be annoying for him and the team which truly deserved two cars in the top 10 as a reward for their hard work. However, 12th is not too far behind 10th."

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Postby Ed » Sun Apr 19, 2009 9:42 pm

2009 CHINESE GRAND PRIX

HEIKKI KOVALAINEN
Started: 12th
Finished: 5th

Fastest lap: 1m54.516s on lap 41 (10th)
Pitstops: one (W-W)
Championship points: 4
Championship pos: 9th

A faultless race from Heikki, who started the race from 12th on the grid and climbed relentlessly through the field to finish fifth. Elevated to 10th before the Safety Car was withdrawn on lap nine, he tussled in the lower reaches of the top 10, rising to eighth before the second Safety Car stint - to recover debris from the Heidfeld/Trulli crash.

Massa’s retirement elevated him to seventh and he slipped past Barrichello at the second restart to run sixth, then fifth after Kimi’s pitstop on lap 28. Making his sole pitstop on lap 34, he dropped to ninth, but the team’s strategy allowed him to pass two pitting cars and overtake Adrian Sutil to run sixth. He passed Lewis after he ran wide at the exit of Turn 10 to come home fifth.

“The visibility was unbelievably poor – especially during the first few laps after the Safety Car came in,” Heikki said. “But our pace was good and, during the last laps of the race, I could get close to Rubens – just not enough to start an attack. Our strategy was spot on: finishing higher than fifth was not possible today and I’m very pleased to have scored four solid points without making a single mistake – despite some massive moments!”


LEWIS HAMILTON

Started: 9th
Finished: 6th

Fastest lap: 1m54.665s on lap 39 (12th)
Pitstops: one (W-W)
Championship points: 4
Championship pos: 10th

Lewis rued a missed opportunity to get onto the podium today after spinning twice and losing ground in the middle of the race as he struggled to keep his wet-tyres working properly.

From ninth on the grid, he made an immediate strong charge – enjoying fantastic tussles with Kimi and Trulli to get up to fifth. “It was almost too difficult to drive at the beginning of the race,” Lewis said. “But I found a good pace and had some fun in the opening laps, but unfortunately I destroyed my tyres quite early on.”

Lewis spun at the exit of Turn 10 and dropped to 10th, once again resuming his charge to re-pass Heikki and Trulli to run eighth. Cars stopping during the second Safety Car period moved him to fifth and a ballsy pass of Kimi around the outside of Turn 7 put him fourth. Stopping on lap 33, he dropped to seventh and clambered back to fifth, when he ran wide at Turn 10 and was passed by Heikki. Another spin, at Turn 16, left him seventh. Sutil’s retirement in the closing laps elevated him to sixth at the chequer.

“I made a few too many mistakes today,” Lewis added. “It was very slippery and my front-left tyre was finished long before the end but I still gave it my best. This afternoon was a real struggle but I’m glad I got some points for the team.”

Today’s double-score gives Vodafone McLaren Mercedes eight points, putting us fourth in the constructors’ championship.

MARTIN WHITMARSH – team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“First of all, I want to offer our hearty congratulations to all at Red Bull Racing on the occasion of their first grand prix win. Sebastian drove a great race – and well done, too, to our old friend Adrian Newey. As for our team, Heikki scored a very well deserved four points for an impressive fifth place. It isn’t at all easy to drive a faultless race in conditions like those we faced today, but Heikki did just that. Lewis pressed hard all afternoon – and, when you do that, occasionally you run wide or spin. Lewis duly did so – but, in truth, his was a great drive, too.

“We were never going to be able to live with the Red Bulls or the Brawns today, which is why we chose a one-stop strategy. The track was wet throughout the race, and the longer stints that our strategy dictated inevitably caused more wet-tyre wear than that experienced by the two-stoppers; but, despite the challenges posed by that extra wet-tyre wear, our drivers both coped very well. So, overall, an encouraging result: getting two cars into the points shows that we’re making good progress, but there’s more to come and we’re working flat-out to develop the improvements that will deliver it.”

NORBERT HAUG – vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“More than fifth and sixth places are not possible for us at the moment and this has to change. Congratulations to Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing for a faultless race – hats off. Again everybody experienced difficult conditions like in Malaysia. At least, seven points are better than nothing, but our speed has to improve significantly. We had four cars with Mercedes-Benz engines in the top six, so thanks to all our engine guys in Brixworth and Stuttgart for the good job.”

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Postby Ed » Wed Apr 22, 2009 7:45 pm

BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX PREVIEW

Lewis Hamilton

“I’m looking forward to Bahrain. It’s a circuit I enjoy and I think it should be good for us – the nature of the circuit, the long straights and the heavy braking zones mean it is a theoretically strong place for KERS. In fact, it’s got the highest brake-wear of the season so far, so it will be interesting to see how well KERS can be exploited around the lap.

“Most importantly, we seem to have a solid direction within the team – all our upgrades invariably bring a laptime improvement and our direction on set-up and strategy shows what a strong group we still are. I still think we are several races away from being truly competitive but a straightforward race at Bahrain would give us a very good opportunity to accurately assess where we sit among our rivals.”

Heikki Kovalainen

“There’s a real mix of corners at the Bahrain circuit and the long straights followed by tighter corners mean it’s a good place for overtaking. It’s quite tricky to find the right set-up, it’s a medium downforce circuit so that always brings a compromise. And the changing wind conditions, the winds here can be quite strong, also make it harder to get the car working over the whole weekend. Still, it’s a circuit you have to attack to get a good time – I really enjoy the high-speed esses and uphill sweeps around the back of the circuit. I’m looking forward to another strong weekend and the opportunity to put some more points on the board.”



Martin Whitmarsh, team principal Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“The points we scored in China were encouraging because they showed that, even without a fully competitive car, we have lost none of our ability to attack over a race weekend and to maximize every opportunity that comes our way. Until our package reaches full competitiveness, that must remain our aim for the Bahrain weekend. Once again, we will introduce a series of upgrades to MP4-24 and remain optimistic that they will once again deliver a further performance improvement. Also, as the home of one of our primary shareholders, it is a particularly special race for everyone within the team and we are made to feel very welcome by our Bahraini hosts.”

Norbert Haug, vice-president Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“We are looking forward to the second back to back race this season after the first two grands prix within eight days in Melbourne and Sepang. This schedule with four races within five weeks, is a very tough challenge for everybody involved in Formula 1. Our performance in dry conditions looked a step better in Shanghai than at the two races before and our aim is to continue in this direction. Anyway - we cannot expect miracles in Bahrain and everybody in the team is absolutely aware of the fact that we have to work day and night in order to come back to the top of the field.

“We lost already six points in Australia by our own faults and also in Malaysia we should have scored more than one point. In China we achieved for the first time what was achievable, but fifth and sixth places cannot be the target for the team starting with numbers 1 and 2 on their cars. After the first four flyaway races we have to deliver presentable progress in the next four races in Europe. However, it will be very challenging to move into the top three of the team ranking in such a short time.”


Bahrain Grand Prix statistics

Length: 5.412km/3.363 miles

Race distance: 308.238km/191.593 miles

Laps: 57

Number of corners: 15

Lap record (2004) : 1m30.252s M Schumacher (2004)

McLaren-Mercedes in Bahrain three podium finishes in five races.

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes in the 2008 Bahrain GP

Heikki fifth Lewis: thirteenth

2008 fastest lap: Heikki Kovalainen 1m33.193s

First Bahrain Grand Prix: 2004

First race in Bahrain: 2004

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Postby Ed » Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:46 am

2009 BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX – FREE PRACTICE ANALYSIS

Sakhir, Friday April 24

LEWIS HAMILTON
MP4-24-04
P1 programme
19 laps – 1m33.747s (1st)

With minimal changes to MP4-24 since Shanghai, the team once again back-to-backed the type-two and three front wing iterations, with Lewis spending just a single run evaluating FW2 and still declaring himself happier with the newer version.
“We’ve definitely got a very well-balanced car around here,” he said. “The track felt very grippy from the start of the session and our work on the prime tyre was very consistent.”
Lewis conducted three runs: five laps/1m33.647s; three laps/1m34.358s (with FW2) and four laps/1m34.114s. As in Shanghai, he ended the P1 session fastest overall.

P2 programme
30 laps – 1m33.994s (11th)

Moving into a tyre comparison programme for the afternoon, Lewis started P2 on a set of primes, running four laps and setting a best of 1m35.388s. Thereafter, he switched to the option, completing three further runs (eight laps/1m34.970s; seven laps/1m34.157s; three laps/1m33.994s) in order to ascertain the softer tyre’s durability. While Lewis only recorded 11th-fastest time in the session, his engineers are once again encouraged by his fuel-corrected and long-run pace.
“Both sessions were consistent and very productive,” Lewis explained. “The whole field looks very tight, but we are definitely taking steps forward. While we haven’t made significant progress – we didn’t bring anything new here this weekend – our goal remains to score some more points.”

HEIKKI KOVALAINEN
MP4-24-03
P1 programme
24 laps – 1m34.502s (6th)

Heikki’s early runs led him to conclude that he felt more comfortable using the older FW2 version. Running on primes throughout the session, Heikki set best times of five laps/1m34.718s, four laps/1m34.907s – with FW3, and including a mid-run stop to adjust the front wing – and six laps/1m34.502s.
“The track was surprisingly grippy at the start of practice,” said Heikki afterwards, “but the pitlane was quite dusty and slippery, making it easy to lock wheels. I feel more comfortable with the older-spec front wing, but maybe we still need to evaluate it.” Heikki ended the session fifth fastest.

P2 programme
35 laps – 1m34.764s (19th)

Running a similar programme to Lewis, Heikki also completed four runs, starting out on the primes before switching to the option for his longer runs. Despite finishing 19th fastest, Heikki and his team conducted a very disciplined programme focusing on raceday performance:
“We once again made progress and have made improvements to the car since Shanghai,” said Heikki. “The big stops and long straights of this circuit really suit our package. My KERS stopped towards the end of the final session, which meant my times weren’t as competitive as they could have been. But I definitely think we’ll be more competitive in qualifying.” Heikki’s run times in P2 were: five laps/1m35.560s; eight laps/1m35.162s; eight laps/1m34.857s; six laps/1m34.764s.

MARTIN WHITMARSH – team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“We are satisfied with the progress we made today. Given MP4-24’s performance deficit, we run these sessions with considerable discipline to ensure that the improvements we make to the car are very rigorously tested in the field. Our times in first practice were a little flattering but our afternoon programme was encouraging. Having only raced in Shanghai last week, we don’t have too many upgrades for the car, but we have succeeded in finding a decent balance for MP4-24 and that certainly gives us a good foundation for the rest of the weekend.”

NORBERT HAUG – vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“This was a productive first day and we did a lot of running posting reasonably quick and, more importantly, consistent laptimes. The order in the afternoon reflects, in my view, not the right picture here as was equally the case with Lewis’s P1 in first practice. Our KERS is helping quite a bit around this circuit and our plan is to use it here tomorrow and on Sunday – being the only team to do so with both cars in all the races so far.”

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Postby Ed » Sat May 09, 2009 1:10 pm

2009 BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX – QUALIFYING ANALYSIS

Sakhir, Saturday April 25

LEWIS HAMILTON
MP4-24-04
P3 programme

16 laps 1m32.975s (4th)

Encouraged by the pace and consistency of MP4-24, Lewis made more progress with the car ahead of qualifying. Completing three runs (five laps/1m33.999s best; three laps/1m32.975s and a single-lap of 1m33.605s), he ended the day fourth fastest. “We are making improvements all the time,” he said.

Qualifying

Q1 1m32.851s (3rd)
Q2 1m32.877s (8th)
Q3 1m34.196 (5th overall)

Lewis set a Q1 banker on option tyres of 1m33.290s before setting a faster 1m32.851s, again on options, to finish the first session third fastest. Into Q2, he ran a used set of options to record a 1m33.472s – a lap he was dissatisfied with – before pulling out a 1m32.877s to finish eighth in an incredibly closely fought session. Into Q3 for the second time this year, Lewis set a 1m35.042s banker on primes before recording a 1m34.196s, on options, to line up fifth – the team’s best qualifying position of the season.

“We have been pushing incredibly hard over the last couple of months and this is a result of all our hard work,” said Lewis. “I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved: firstly, it was good to get into the top 10, then it was even better to battle inside the top 10! We’ve got a similar pace to some of the guys in the top five; as long as everything goes smoothly we should be able to get a top five finish tomorrow. I can almost see pole position now – and I’m really looking forward to getting there soon!”

HEIKKI KOVALAINEN

MP4-24-03
P3 programme
12 laps 1m33.478s (12th)

The start of Heikki’s programme was delayed by an electrical problem. As a result, his running was curtailed; he completed just two runs – a five-lap stint on primes (1m34.233s best) to evaluate overnight set-up changes and a shorter, final run to assess the option tyre (three laps/1m33.478s). He ended up 12th fastest.

Qualifying

Q1 1m33.479s (11th)
Q2 1m33.242s (11th overall)
Q3 -

Running on primes for his first run in Q1, Heikki recorded a 1m35.542s, followed by a cool-down lap before setting a 1m34.589s. With the majority of the field so competitive, the team opted for a second run, and Heikki set a 1m33.479s, on options, to finish Q1 11th. Into Q2, Heikki went out early and set a 1m33.273s, only slightly improving to a 1m33.242s on his second run to finish 11th – narrowly missing the top 10 by less than a tenth.

“I didn't have any major problems today but, obviously I wasn't as fast as I would have liked,” said Heikki afterwards. “We have to analyse what went wrong. Nevertheless our competiveness has improved compared to the previous grands prix. We are lacking pace especially in the middle sector. However, the fact that I was less than one tenth of a second behind 10th position in Q2 shows that we have made some more progress. I am now looking forward to the race, where my target is to achieve a solid points result."

MARTIN WHITMARSH – team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“After our top-10 qualifying position in Shanghai last weekend, today’s performance once again shows that we are continuing to make progress with MP4-24. Lewis’s top-five position is a fantastic achievement and, considering he began the first race of the season from 18th on the grid, a fantastic indicator of just how much progress the team has made. Of course, while our qualifying positions mark the team’s best Saturday performance of the season, they were made without compromise to our race pace; both Lewis and Heikki are well placed to pick up some more points for the team tomorrow.”

NORBERT HAUG – vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“Looks like we are heading in the right direction. Lewis did a great job yesterday and today. The layout of the track is not bad for us as our car is strong under braking and we feel that our KERS hybrid is helping here as well. A shame for Heikki that he missed Q3 by less than one tenth, finishing 11th while Lewis was eighth: an incredibly close session, with 0.05s covering fourth to eighth! It is extremely tight these days in Formula 1 but that is great for the spectators – they are what we are here for.”


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