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McLaren targeting 2004 Grand Prix win 09 Jun 2004

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) tests the new McLaren Mercedes MP4/19B for the first time. Formula One Testing, Silverstone, England, 1 June 2004.

McLaren believe that their heavily revised MP4-19B car, which made its track debut at Silverstone last week, could put them back on top of the winner’s podium before the end the season.

With just five points from seven races so far this year, it has been McLaren’s worst start to a championship campaign in over 20 years. However, the team’s CEO Martin Whitmarsh believes the updated car, tipped to make its race debut in July, could help to reverse their fortunes.

"We want to win a race or two before the end of this season and we believe that we have a programme that will now enable us to do that," he told British weekly Motorsport News, following the MP4-19B’s first week of testing.

Kimi Raikkonen completed more than 200 laps over three days at the wheel of the new machine and declared it to be a definite improvement on its predecessor. In fact, such was the enthusiasm for the car that certain parties within McLaren were reportedly keen to introduce it for this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.

However, Whitmarsh said there were still further checks to be made and that the car was unlikely to race until the season returns to Europe following the Montreal and Indianapolis rounds. “I think France is a sensible and realistic target," he added.

The French Grand Prix takes place at Magny-Cours on July 4. In last year’s race Raikkonen and team mate David Coulthard finished fourth and fifth respectively.