View Full Version : McLaren launch lunch interviews, by request...

Mickey T
16th January 2007, 21:33
McLaren season launch, Valencia, Spain, 15.1.07

(all rough and raw, sorry boys and girls, but they were taken from lunch as the guys moved from table to table. i've left the questions out, but you'll get the idea...)


I found straight away a very good feeling with the team members. I feel very optimistic. A new challenge and a very promising team.

It is possible to win the championship. Itís a perfect change for me.
Every year you have doubts about how good the year will be.
In 2005 it was because of the single-tyre rule. In 2006 it was the change from V10 to V8 engines.
This year, it is the same thing for me because of the move, and I feel part of a big team already.
Everybody is so optimistic. After the years without success they are putting in a big effort.
This year I have the same doubts as usual, but a lot less.
Thereís not message in there for Ferrari. I just refreshed myself.
You try to test as late in January as you can, so your holiday is bigger. This year I just want to go.
I hope not to wait five years to win with McLaren Mercedes. I hope to win straight away.
Itís true that I have two championships, but I think we are so dependent about the teamís performance.
Will Ferrari miss Schumacher? If the Ferrari is a quick car then they will not miss Michael too much.
If the Ferrari is not good, even Michael is not able to win, like in 2005.
I donít think Michael was a big difference.

I wish Renault good luck. I still have a lot of friends there. If McLaren cannot win, I hope Renault wins.
I know I will be the only one on track to win a world championship, so I hope not to do any mistakes and hope to be quick.
I need to put all my concentration in the team to improve the car for two months to be in a position to win in Australia.
Itís one of the challenges to switch teams.
The challenge is to build a team from nothing to success.


Itís a great feeling for me to be here next to Alonso and the other guys. It is a dream for me so my emotins are all over the place at the moment.
I canít say how happy I am and how proud I am.

I feel extremely comfortable. I am an extremely competitive person and I want to compete against the best and beat the best. It does not scare me.
My target is to take a realistic view. I have a very steep learning curve.
By being in an experienced team and a good car with an experienced team mate this will speed up the process of learning for me.
I expected all of this (fanfare, glamour) when I came in. itís difficult to imagine going from an average normal driver in GP2 to being an F1 driver.
I am very, very competitive. In karts, Nico and I had a pizza eating competition. I think we ate two and a half each, but that was back when we had little kart bellies.
Opening the door to F1 was not easy and itís been a very long journey.
Without the support from my family I would not have come half the distance. Without the loyalty, respect and trust McLaren have put into me I would not be in F1.
Because I have been testing with pedro I have a very open relationship with him already.
We are seeing quite a big change in F1 with a lot of younger drivers. To see these drivers that I have grown up with coming in is fantastic. Guys like Nico and Kubica.


From Jan 15 to Australia is more than two months and we have more than 15 test days. We have to work flat out to make sure Fernando is comfortable in the car.

(RE his wife racing with two friends in a 1000km race): now she understands about brake reference points and turn-in. thereís some work that needs to be doneÖ
I was not worried about her. my sport is very safe. Itís racing at a race track in a helmet with the fire proof overalls. Itís very safe. Going on a motorbike in Barcelona; that is dangerous.

Season: itís difficult to say. Everyone is a world champion at this time of the season.
We will lean a lot as well from the tyres from the other competitors in testing.
We have done a lot of progress in the areas of the car that we were not happy about last year.
The tyres for us is good. We have not had to change our car a lot because of the tyres.
Fernando is a two time world champion, and I donít think he needs much help from me.
He has been talking a lot and he has been asking a lot. Mostly listening. How the diff works, traction control, aero balance. What we normally do during a Grand Prix weekend, how the meeting structures work, that sort of thing.
Interim car was the one he drove. Aero changes to the floor and diffuser, and front wing.
We have to respect Renault. They will be strong. By losing Fernando they area a weaker team.
I donítí think they are as strong as last year.
On the chassis we had several issues ton the front end of the car. A lot of understeer.
In improving the drivability and torque of the engine, too.
We had only one day working with Fernando at Jerez.
Fernando is more aggressive with the steering wheel than any of us, kimi included, and he is very demanding on the front end of the car.
Itís obvious that Fernando canít drive with the same amount of front wing that I do or kimi did.
That good thing was what he didnít like was what we didnít like. That gives the engineers assurance that what they have been working on the car since june is correct.


We thought it would be a good idea to integrate a lot of people. We thought Spain is a very good place with Fernando Alonso in the car and with our new sponsor partner they wanted to have a starting point.
The most important thing for us is to give something to the people. We are hoping for good weather tonight and a lot of people in it. To give something to the people is the first chance for us.

We have difficult rules. Frozen engine for the next four years. Our engine was revving to 20,000 rpm and had its peak power at 19 or so, so when the limit is changed to 19 and you have to get the peak at 18, then we have had to work on the cylinder head and inlet ports and other things.
The basic engine is the same as last year. From august it was a very busy time for the engine guys.
For the next couple of years we are not allowed to change anything inside the engine.
We can change if we are not reliable then we can ask for permission. There will be interesting discussions if we need to change, or if somebody needs to change.
He was quite pleased with the interim car that he drove. We canít read too much in one day of testing.
Nobody in McLaren offered him a haircut. This was his decision.
He is a breath of fresh air. He is one of the greatest drivers currently and itís up to us to provide him wit the package to win the championship.
Lewis won everything in the junior competitions. He was very close to the time and won with GP2 in convincing style. Itís a big step but what else does he need to fulfil to take the next step?
If we build a car that is as competitive to the competitors, like our 05 car then I think the drivers will to that job.
We have at least six teams that are works teams and works supported and four new cars from Adrian Newey and Williams.
It never stops. Itís a completely new F1 from what it used to be 10 years ago.

Cost savings:
In the last six months it was spending more not cutting costs. In the future if we are not allowed to make major changes it should cut costs. Not sure yet, though


Our young drivers have brought a phenomenal level of fresh air to me and to our team.
I spent 10 years guiding Lewis. His personality is 99 percent because of his family. He is a fantastic guy but I do not have claim to any of that. I have guided the work ethic in him.
When he started to do well in GP2, I sat back from the decision about drivers. The management and Mercedes-Benz came back to me and suggested him.
He has exceeded everybodyís expectations in the pre Christmas testing. He was very quick in the long distance runs.

The Achilles heel is can he cope with the knocks? And itís you guys who will give him the knocks.
There are some young guys in F1 that are overheated and overrated and overhyped and starting to believe their own press. To their detriment, I think. I donít think he will be like that.
Provided we give him a competitive car he will be able to win races if Fernando has a problem.
I believe he will be capable of being in a position to win races before the end of the year. I donít think he will be faster than Fernando, but he will be right there if Fernando has problems.
History has shown that all the greats through time have not done this (beaten champion teammates to wins) in their first year.
Every GP team starts with the objective of winning races, but itís not as important. Does anybody remember who won 10 races and didnít win the World Championship in 2005? Well, it was McLarenÖ
We were not crap last year. We should have won races but we were pushing and developing so hard but we produced into the competitive package the problems that stopped us from winning races.
I respect all our comptitors.
The truth is that one of the top two or three teams gets that magic package right then we canít stop them.
Williams could come back strong again. The key ingredients have always been the same. This is the first season when our technical centre has become a homogeneous orgnasiation.
Itís taken longer than I anticipated.

Re: have you offered Ross Brawn a job? Ross Brawn would be an asset to any team and if thereís any top team that has not spoken to him I would be very surprised.

16th January 2007, 21:47
thanks for that Mickey, going to print it off and read it with a pint later...

17th January 2007, 10:14
Thanks Mickey quite interesting.