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Is McLaren on the way down ? - The Heretic

Juan Pablo Montoya
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Who will get the wooden spoon ? 
Have Your Say  

11 - 14 March News  
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14-Mar: At the Thursday press conference for the Malaysian Grand Prix, Peter Sauber has indicated how difficult and costly it is was for his team to repair the cars following the first corner crash in Melbourne and said "It was a disaster for us. After 20 seconds, both cars were damaged. It was very, very bad. I think for a small team it's very difficult. You have this big accident at the beginning of the season, and not only the cost is important but the spare parts as well, because we had two accidents during the last test at Mugello." Peter Sauber also admitted that it will be very very hard for them to maintain 4th in the championship.

Ron Dennis took the blame for Coulthard's retirement in Melbourne and said "The parts that failed are a very small part of the mechanism that drives the electronic sensor that determines which the gear the driver is in, so it's an integral part of the selection process. The design of that particular component is about four years mature and the failure was really caused by high level of vibration coming from performance steps by Mercedes Benz and we just missed it in the latter part of our testing. We had such good gearbox reliability through the testing that the last test's gearboxes were not stripped until after the Australian Grand Prix and there was an indication of the problem in those boxes so it was a fair and square McLaren mistake, something that we should have picked up and didn't."
Ron Dennis was confident that the problem was fixed and it won't occur again.
Ron Dennis was happy with the team's new relationship with Michelin but admitted facing some difficulties in Australia and said "The relationship is excellent. It was discussed with Williams before we actually changed. I think there is a good correlation of the data between the teams. Of course, we're both competitive against each other but our overwhelming desire is just to have better tyres at each and every race. It's a challenge. Bridgestone is a great company and Michelin has a formidable task to match them and better them during the course of this season. I hope that it will be an equal split, but certainly it was a little difficult in Australia."

Alex Yoong described the new Minardi PS02 as a big step forward over it's predecessor but admits that he cannot wait for power steering and said "I think the car has got a lot of potential. We haven't had a chance to do any set up work on it yet and it's quite a big step forward from last year's car. You know we've had quite a nice jump in power with the Asiatech engine. The other two major things are downforce, we've done some good work in the wind tunnel; and weight saving. The car's a lot lighter and actually we are running ballast this year, whereas last year we didn't have any ballast at all. 
It's producing so much more downforce than last year's car, that we're actually struggling to use it because we don't have a power steering system. That's coming on line, hopefully for Imola, maybe even in Brazil, and as far as I'm concerned, it can't come soon enough.

Michael Schumacher thinks that Michelin appear to have a problem in Australia similar to last year but he also believes that Bridgestone have made a big step under hot conditions and said "If you look at the situation of last year, then you honestly have to say that it looks like that Michelin seems to have a problem with that particular circuit (Albert Park), because last year they haven't been very competitive there, so they haven't been this year. Coming here, the situation seems to have changed quite rapidly. Saying that, since Magny Cours last year, I think Bridgestone has made a huge step forward in terms of consistency in hot weather conditions. I would be surprised to see it's only up to temperature. I think there must be other reasons, being a factor of it, because after we came from Brazil to Imola and, if you all remember, Michelin seemed to be rather competitive and it wasn't too hot in Imola, so I don't think it was only temperature factors."
Michael Schumacher believes Michelin will be more consistent at Sepang.

Kimi Raikkonen is hoping to keep finishing on the podium this year and preferably on the middle step but is aware of the tough competition and said "I hope to be more often on the podium, especially in the middle, but the team is pushing and I am doing my best. I think we had a bit of bad luck in Australia also in the first corner. I was pushed off the circuit, and it took quite a long time to get back on the circuit, change some parts in the pits. So the result was quite good and especially if you look after the first lap, I was still in last place. We are aiming for a win but it's hard against Ferrari and Williams but we are doing our best."
Kimi Raikkonen sent a warning to his team-mate David Coulthard and said "For sure I can challenge him. As I said, the race was quite strange, some difficulties in the beginning, but in testing we had pretty equal speed and we will probably find some other guys are quicker on certain circuits and others quicker in others. But I will try and beat him every time. We will see how it's going to be."

14-Mar: Both Ralf Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello have indicated that they will try and avoid each other at the upcoming Malaysian Grand Prix following their first corner crash at the Australian GP. At the time, both drivers blamed each other for the accident, now however, they just want to forget about it. Ralf Schumacher said "I will be more careful at the first corner. I will try to avoid Rubens. I want to qualify better than him and to stay in front of him all the time." Ralf also fired a warning to his bother Michael and said "I am happy with my brother's victory in Melbourne but it will not be easy for him in Malaysia. He can expect a tough fight from me from the start of the race."
Rubens Barrichello is also hoping to have a good race and said "I prefer to look forward, as there is no point now discussing whose fault was the accident in Melbourne. I don't care about it any more. Now we are in Malaysia, which has always been good for me and I hope that will be the situation this year."

Michael Schumacher is assuming that he will be driving the F2002 at the Brazilian Grand Prix but indicated that he will only do so if the car is 100% reliable and said "I assume we will race the new car in Brazil. We have another test after this race but we want to be 100 percent certain nothing is wrong. We have been conservative on it, especially after the way the old car performed in the first race."
Rubens Barrichello who has yet to drive the new car isn't too concerned about not driving the car yet and said "If we do bring the new car to the Brazilian GP, then the three or four days of testing will be enough for me to learn how to take it to its limit. Of course, we would all still be learning about it, in terms of set-up if we did bring it to Interlagos."

14-Mar: "Is McLaren on the way down?" is the title of the 4th issue from the Diagnosis and Prognosis Series for the 2002 season. In this issue, the Heretic looks at the upcoming  Malaysian Grand Prix - Issue 4

13-Mar: British businessman Charles Nickerson who purchased the assets of the Prost Grand Prix team had hoped to take part in the Malaysian GP this weekend. The FIA however have informed him and his Phoenix group that they will not be allowed to race even on a provisional basis. 
A statement from the FIA read "The court has not transferred Prost Grand Prix itself nor made any attempt to transfer the Prost Grand Prix entry in the 2002 Formula One World Championship, either to Phoenix Finance Limited or to Mr Nickerson. The FIA has therefore informed Phoenix and Mr Nickerson that they are not entered in the 2002 FIA Formula One World Championship and that it cannot allow them to participate in Malaysia, even on a provisional basis."
Earlier the Phoenix group flew 2 cars (ex-Prost AP04) to Malaysia in an attempt to take part in the race this coming weekend. It was not known what kind of engines or tyres they would be using however they were receiving technical assistance from Arrows boss Tom Walkinshaw. A spokesperson for the team said "We have just been notified of FIA's decision but it is too early to say what we will do. We need to sit down and talk about our options."
It remains to be seen wether the new team will be allowed to participate in upcoming rounds of the championship even though Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone had laughed off that suggestion when he said "He (Mr. Nickerson) has bought nothing in Formula One. All he has bought is some show cars. He can forget it. He is wasting his time." 
It has been rumoured that Argentine Gaston Mazzacane and Brazilian Tarso Marques where going to drive for the team.

13-Mar: "Who will get the wooden spoon ?" - Topic of the week - Have Your Say

12-Mar: Both the Williams and McLaren teams have expressed confidence in challenging Ferrari at the Malaysian Grand Prix. Both teams are hoping to benefit from the higher temperatures which should make the Michelin tyre perform better. 
Juan Pablo Montoya said "The Malaysian Grand Prix is going to be interesting for us and I believe the BMW WilliamsF1 Team package is going to perform pretty well there, and we are looking quite strong. The car should be fairly good and in hotter conditions the tyre should work a lot better than last week in Melbourne. Last year I qualified eleventh in Melbourne and sixth in Malaysia, so I really think we're going to show a lot more potential now."
Ralf Schumacher echoed his team-mates statement with regard to the tyres and said "Our car was very competitive in Melbourne even with the pretty low temperatures there. And in Sepang it is going to be much hotter and our Michelin tyre should provide a big advantage over our competitors. There will also be a couple of changes to the car, which make me really confident for the race."
BMW's Motorsport Director Gerhard Berger said "The BMW WilliamsF1 Team has undertaken some testing recently, including trying a range of modifications over race distances. I also expect that our package of chassis, engine and tyres will profit from the high temperatures at Sepang, and we will get close to the Ferraris. We should not read too much into the results in Melbourne, and for sure, there will be races this season when Ferrari are not dominant, and we should make the most of these opportunities to win."

Similarly at the McLaren camp, they are hoping to challenge Ferrari for the win. 
David Coulthard
said "I am looking forward to the Malaysian Grand Prix, as the circuit is enjoyable to drive with a good mixture of corners, fast straights and excellent overtaking opportunities. I am focusing on scoring my first points of the 2002 season and we are optimistic that we can leave Sepang with a good result. I have spent a few days relaxing in Thailand and am ready for action.
McLaren's Managing Director Martin Whitmarsh said "Although we were disappointed with the result in Australia, with Kimi setting the fastest lap of the race, we demonstrated that the potential is there. We are looking to improve on the result in Malaysia and West McLaren Mercedes is going to Sepang with the same aim as always, to secure victory, and the whole team has been working hard to achieve the desired outcome."

11-Mar: Michael Schumacher has fired a warning to his rivals indicating that he has every intention to win at Malaysia in the old car and using Bridgestone tyres despite claims that Bridgestone will suffer under the hot conditions. He said "I think we will still have the better tyre. Maybe not to the extent we saw in Australia, but I disagree completely with the idea that Bridgestone will not be competitive in Malaysia. This opinion is based on last year, when the Bridgestones suffered a bit in the hot weather in the early part of the season. At the beginning of last year, there was definitely a gap between us and Michelin. But by the mid-season the gap had closed. That's why I'm very optimistic about the Malaysian race. I am sure we will be in contention for the win."

Jacques Villeneuve who failed to finish the Australian GP after suffering a rear-wing failure is confident of the car's competitiveness and is hoping to fight for points in Malaysia. He said "I'm looking forward to racing in Malaysia. It's a challenging race and the hot atmospheric conditions make it physically demanding. Like the Melbourne track, it is a long lap, which I enjoy. There are a couple of very long straights with tight corners. Our car should be fairly competitive. I'm disappointed that we didn't finish the race in Melbourne as we could easily have been in the points there. We have all the right elements in place to fight for points finishes, we just need to raise our game."
Team boss David Richards once again stressed that the team have basic issues to overcome first before aiming high and said "Australia really served to underline my view that we have some pretty fundamental issues to address. Before we do anything else we have got to get the basics right, by which I mean maximising the output from what we have already. Until we have got that sorted we cannot move on to developing our technology and performance to the highest level. 
As for Malaysia, it is always a tough race and once again will serve as an intense pressure test of all aspects of the team's performance. I certainly hope that the team can get much closer to extracting the real potential from the car, which should by rights be inside the top ten in both qualifying and the race. Apart from anything we need to get both cars to the end so that we can collect valuable information for ourselves and Honda."

Eddie Irvine who started in 19th place in Australia behind Mark Webber is expecting to qualify higher up this time round but he still doesn't expect a points finish and said "While we were aware of our problems before turning a wheel in anger at Albert Park, I donít think anybody expected a qualifying slot behind the Minardis. We simply didnít perform to our maximum ability over the qualifying hour. Malaysia will provide yet another challenge for us, but I certainly donít expect us to be at the back of the grid this time. I won here a couple of years ago with Ferrari and in 2000 I picked up the sixth place point for Jaguar Racing Ė a very tall order this time round."

11-Mar: "4 in a row for Ferrari" The Malaysian Grand Prix Preview is now available ... Race Preview

Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix Schedule:

Session Time (Local / GMT) - Current local time
Friday Practice Session 1
Friday Practice Session 2
Saturday Practice Session 1
Saturday Practice Session 2
Qualifying Session
Warm-up Session
Race
11 AM Kuala Lumpur Time / 3 AM GMT
1 PM Kuala Lumpur Time / 5 AM GMT
9 AM Kuala Lumpur Time / 1 AM GMT 
10:15 AM Kuala Lumpur Time / 2:15 AM GMT
1 PM Kuala Lumpur Time / 5 AM GMT
10:30 AM Kuala Lumpur Time / 2:30 AM GMT
3 PM Kuala Lumpur Time / 7 AM GMT
Go to the Malaysian GP Page

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