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Friday preview - pressure on at Mercedes 22 Jul 2005

Norbert Haug (GER) Mercedes Sporting Director in the FIA Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, German Grand Prix, Preparations, Hockenheim, Germany, 21 July 2005

Mercedes-Benz have pledged to Kimi Raikkonen that he will have a reliable engine this weekend, as the Finn seeks his first race finish at Hockenheim in four years.

After two failures in practice obliged Raikkonen to start the French and British races 10 places further back than he should have, Mercedes’ motorsport director Norbert Haug said yesterday: “They were different problems in France and Britain and we never have had these problems before. We communicated the issues before but I am happy to repeat them. It was a bearing in the engine in Magny-Cours, and it was a shaft connecting the oil pump and the water pump in Silverstone. We changed it, we checked it, we did some very good testing in Jerez. We had one engine failure there, we had two other engines and they did more than 1200 kms, more than 1400 kms, we put the engine that did 1200 on the dyno and put an additional 500 km and a lot of stress on it, and everything was fine. We are all on the limit, we re all revving very high. I think the power is more than we saw last year, so everything is very close to the limit or at the limit. Having said that, our reliability was very good so far and I am quite happy that the failures occurred during practice and not during the race because, in a way, we repaired it and got a second and third place out of it, which wasn’t too bad a result, but obviously we all have to be concerned. It is a tough formula but we did everything we possibly could have done in the best possible situation.”

“I will give it my all to please the many Mercedes employees and fans here,” was all Raikkonen said on the issue, but he knows he has to keep beating Fernando Alonso if he is to have any chance of overhauling the Spaniard’s points lead over the remaining eight races.

The key issue in all this is team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya, who struck gold at last for the silver arrows at Silverstone with his first victory with the team. Two years ago he dominated this race, of course, for Williams, and he would like nothing more than to score a repeat this weekend. “We made some more progress during testing in Jerez last week,” he said yesterday, “and we were strong in the last race, so we should be strong here. It was nice to get a win for McLaren at home at Silverstone, a big relief, actually, and it would be nice get a win here for Mercedes.”

It remains to be seen how soon the Colombian is asked to help his team mate’s quest for points, though it would have to be subtle in order not to infringe the rules about team orders.

It was relatively quiet here yesterday on the news front, though Toyota’s John Howett gave further indications that he expects Jordan to complete their engine deal with his company. If that happens he believes it will be too late for Williams to source a Toyota supply for 2006. Many believe that could leave the British team having to fall back on a year with Cosworth’s new V8 before forging a deal with Toyota from 2007 onwards.

“We are still finalising contractual details and to some extend the ball is in Jordan’s court,” Howett said, “but I can confirm that the intention is to supply Jordan with engines next year. We have had an approach from Williams, it is clear, to our corporate headquarters in Japan, which has been referred back to us and there is some informal discussion moving forward. But I think we have no additional capacity to supply next year. It is dangerous to say never but I think it is fundamentally too late now to actually establish the production volumes we need to supply that kind of demand.”

At Jordan, the team confirmed that Danish driver Nicolas Kiesa will return to Formula One racing as their third driver in practice today, following the defection of Dutchman Robert Doornbos to Minardi.