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French debut for McLaren MP4-19B 30 Jun 2004

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

Mercedes-powered team optimistic for Magny-Cours

McLaren's heavily-revised MP4-19B car will make its first race appearance at this weekend’s French Grand Prix, the team have confirmed. The decision to introduce the updated machine followed another successful test session at Jerez last week.

“During the test we completed comprehensive chassis and engine proving programmes alongside France-specific set-up and tyre work,” explained McLaren’s Formula One CEO Martin Whitmarsh. “We believe that the outcome from both a performance and reliability perspective demonstrates that MP4-19B is a step in the right direction, which is why the decision to race the car has been made.”

The MP4-19B’s race debut will come almost exactly a month after it made its first track appearance at Silverstone. Since then test drivers Alexander Wurz and Pedro de la Rosa and racers David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen have all put extensive mileage on the car, with minimal reliability problems and some promising pace.

“It was my first opportunity to get behind the wheel and it was a constructive couple of days,” said Coulthard of last week’s Jerez session. “As with the rest of the team, I feel it is a positive move and I am looking forward to seeing how it goes this weekend.”

Whitmarsh went on to stress that the revised car was just part of the programme designed to revive McLaren’s fortunes. “The entire team is continuously working to improve our overall package and whilst the MP4-19B is a significant part of this process additional developments are already planned for the coming weeks and months.”

Heading into this weekend’s Magny-Cours race McLaren lie fifth in the constructors’ championship on 17 points, 19 shy of fourth-placed rivals Williams.