McLaren's Melbourne countdown underway 09 Mar 2007
With a little over a week to go before the Australian Grand Prix, the McLaren team are busier than ever with last-minute preparations for the opening race. In addition to the tactical and technical demands, a fly-away event, like the first round in Melbourne, also poses a logistical challenge for all 11 teams. And with tonnes of equipment needed in Albert Park, McLarens countdown started weeks ago
In fact, the first section of McLarens infrastructure arrived in Australia by sea freight at the end of February, having left the teams UK headquarters - the McLaren Technology Centre - on January 10. This will be followed by the air freight, which departed the Woking factory on Friday.
McLaren team members are expected to arrive from Sunday, with race driver Fernando Alonso heading to Melbourne direct from Europe on Monday and team mate Lewis Hamilton scheduled to join him on Wednesday next week, having spent time on Australia's Gold Coast.
Upon arrival in Melbourne, the first task for the McLaren team will be to locate the freight and start the process of setting up the teams garage and office areas. This process will begin in Albert Park on Sunday, March 11 with an initial recce. The work is expected to be completed by the end of play on Monday, March 12.
The crews for Alonso, Hamilton and the T-Car are also due to arrive on Monday and Tuesday to commence the process of preparing the MP4-22s for the Grand Prix. The three chassis will travel to Australia with the front and rear wings, steering wheels, wing mirrors and side deflector panels removed. A protective wooden floor and sides are built round the car, with a bumper at the rear to protect the gearbox. A travel nosebox and tyres are also fitted.
Work for the McLaren drivers will begin on Wednesday, with tester Pedro de la Rosa due to attend a Mercedes-Benz event at Australias Philip Island track. Alonso and Hamilton will then join the Spaniard for a team event at a beach-front restaurant in Melbourne on Thursday lunchtime, before they all head to the Albert Park circuit early in the afternoon to walk the track with their engineers and participate in the first technical meeting of the Grand Prix.
And after next weekends race? The McLaren team will pack up all the equipment and begin preparing for the Malaysian Grand Prix, which is scheduled to take place on April 6-8.