Q&A with McLarens Martin Whitmarsh 07 May 2007
McLarens Formula One CEO Martin Whitmarsh reviews last weeks testing and looks ahead to this weekends Spanish Grand Prix. (And in case you were wondering, yes, that radical front wing will be making the trip to Barcelona!)
Q: What has the atmosphere been like within the team during the four week break leading up to the Spanish Grand Prix?
Martin Whitmarsh: The atmosphere has been positive and incredibly busy. Weve had both Fernando (Alonso) and Lewis (Hamilton) visit the team, and that is something that is always appreciated. But we are very aware that this is a break in racing at which we need to make the largest incremental improvement in car performance during the course of the season. So we have all been working very hard to make sure that we can realise the technical upgrades that we are seeking to achieve on the car. This process has been going very well and consequentially there is an extremely positive feeling within the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team and we are looking forward to the resumption of the racing season in Spain next week.
Q: What are the key technical challenges for the McLaren team at the Circuit de Catalunya?
MW: Although the circuit has changed, and the last corner is no longer the high speed challenge it once was, it is a very technically demanding circuit. It is a circuit where if you have a strong aero package with good balance and good high speed corner performance, you can be fast there. We expect to be in Barcelona with an incredibly competitive package, but we are also aware that none of our competitors will have stood still, and we have to make sure that we can improve more than them.
Q: The MP4-22 ran with new aero devices at the Barcelona test this week, will these be raced in Spain?
MW: There is a continuous programme of aerodynamic development on the MP4-22, and during the Barcelona test this week, we had a more obvious one with a high mounted flap on the front wing assembly. It is something that has been developed over the last few months within the team. We were pleased with the results of that test and consequentially it will be one of the options available to our drivers during the Spanish Grand Prix weekend.
Q: With two Spanish drivers and partner support from Spain, is the Barcelona race of greater importance to the team than in previous years?
MW: The Spanish Grand Prix is important personally to Fernando and Pedro (de la Rosa) and therefore the team wants to do well for them. In reality, as a Formula One team, we want to achieve success at every race, and Barcelona is an important Grand Prix for the whole team, and it will be a special focus for our partners based in Spain, Santander and Mutua Madrilena. It is the start of the European season and we will be trying to come away with race drivers that are happy with their results and Partners who are pleased with our performance.
Q: What work has taken place at the McLaren Technology Centre with the race chassis in the break from Grands Prix?
MW: During the race season, the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula One cars return to the McLaren Technology Centre between most Grands Prix. The cars that returned from Bahrain will have been completely stripped down to the very last component. Those parts that will be reused at subsequent events will have been fully inspected and serviced, and in the case of a chassis for example, completely repainted. Other components will have consumed their usable life and then as a matter of routine parts will be replaced with parts to the same specification. The third category of parts would be those that have been replaced because the vehicle has been developed.