As the first race of the 2007 season of Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne is getting closer, the whole Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 team is busy doing their last-minute preparation for the tournament. Before the team arrived in Australia, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes new comer Fernando Alonso along with his team mate Lewis Hamilton went into a pre-season test run and completed more than 13,000 km (8,077 miles) aboard the McLaren Mercedes MP4-22.
Early in January, McLaren Mercedes team left the headquarters in UK and brought their racing infrastructures in Australia. Fernando Alonso arrived in Melbourne last March 12th straight from Europe and the rest of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team members arrived in Australia on Sunday, March 11. Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton is expected to arrive in Melbourne in the 14th after staying in Gold Coast.
Norbert Haug, Vice President of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport said:
“At the start of the season in Australia we have a lot of new things to offer. The World Champion of the last two years, Fernando Alonso, is now driving for our team. Lewis Hamilton is a very talented young man who as an up-and-coming driver has been an integral part of our system for almost ten years. The team’s new Title Sponsor Vodafone is a great partner and a global player, which has the same objectives as we. However, prior to the start of the season, ?new? does not mean untried, as the team has tested more intensively than ever before and has completed more test kilometres than before every other season opener so far. During the past six months, the technicians and mechanics for both chassis and engines had to cope with great challenges.”
“Their efforts to prepare for a successful season were as exemplary as the work of test and race teams during the 19 test days between 17th January in Valencia and 1st March in Bahrain. I thank all involved for their great commitment. It’s obvious what would be the best reward for all these efforts and it would be even better to receive it already in the first race of the season in Melbourne, as it has happened already three times before.” he added.
The McLaren Mercedes crew brought three MP4-22’s to Australia that will be used by both drivers, Alonso and Hamilton during the race. The McLaren Mercedes MP4-22 is equipped with an 8-cylinder Mercedes-Benz FO 108T engine, combined with 7-speed semi-automatic gearbox. The MP4-22 also features McLaren drive shafts and Mercedes clutch disc, one of the race car’s Mercedes clutch parts.
Here are what the two McLaren Mercedes drivers have to say:
“Having spent the winter getting to know my new team and new car, I feel really at home and am very motivated to start racing. I always enjoy Australia, there is a great atmosphere and I am excited to get out there and see where we are compared to the other teams. There are a lot of new things in the sport this season such as new rules, all teams running on Bridgestone Potenzas, drivers changing teams. Everyone is starting from zero and it is going to make things very interesting. Am I going to go out at Albert Park and win my first race with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes? We are certainly going to push hard to try.”
“Taking to the grid Australia is the end of one journey for me and the start of an even bigger one. I have been working incredibly hard towards this moment over the past few months, testing, physical training, working with the engineers at the McLaren Technology Centre and studying the regulations. I feel I have the experience I need and I definitely feel ready to get out there. This year will be a learning curve for me, Albert Park is one of the seven new tracks I?ll be racing on, but it is not a huge problem more an exciting challenge. I have always enjoyed street circuits, so it is great to start my career in Formula 1 with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes here.”