The Woking Timeline

By Will Gray, England
Atlas F1 GP Correspondent

Jan 2, 2003 Dennis predicts quantum leap with MP4-18

Ron Dennis: "I think it was our lack of performance that made them look great. It was pretty unsatisfactory and the goal now is to make a quantum leap and that is not easily achievable in a short amount of time so that is why we are taking longer to develop next year's car. The new car should be a much bigger step."

Jan 14, 2003 Coulthard breaks Barcelona record in MP4-17D

March 3, 2003Whitmarsh explains strategy for MP4-18 introduction

Martin Whitmarsh: "Although there are no quick fixes, we do not intend to continue to under perform. In order to achieve this objective, West McLaren Mercedes will be beginning the season with the MP4-17D, a significantly developed version of the car that was at the Japanese Grand Prix. A package that itself underwent substantial modifications during the course of 2002. The MP4-17D has new transmission, a new rear suspension package, a new aerodynamics package, along with the new front suspension we incorporated at the end of 2002. The MP4-18 will be introduced during the European season, at a point where it represents an improved package."

Mar 9, 2003 Coulthard wins in Australia, Dennis promises new car speed

Ron Dennis: "I think it will be a good step and a match for the new Ferrari so we'll be pushing hard on that. In the meantime if we can get results like this we will be delighted."

Mar 23, 2003 Raikkonen wins in Malaysia, Whitmarsh predicts title success

Martin Whitmarsh: "He's going to win more races this year and he's going to be World Champion."

Mar 27, 2003 Whitmarsh predicts MP4-18 arrival in Imola

Martin Whitmarsh: "By the time we get the team back from Brazil we will start running it. If it comes out of the box and is two seconds per lap quicker than the MP4-17D and dead reliable, I'm sure we will find a way of running it at Imola. But life is not usually like that. The car we have now is not too shabby, so it's a risk/benefit analysis. It will inevitably be less reliable than the old model so what will be the benefit of bringing it out early?"

Apr 6, 2003 Raikkonen wins in Brazil then loses it to Fisichella

Apr 20, 2003 Dennis reveals late arrival for MP4-18

Ron Dennis: "No sooner than Canada and no later than Silverstone. But it's not critical to our plans. We think we have a very competitive car. But it will be reliability that determines its introduction. That doesn't mean to say we're not due to run it soon, it doesn't mean to say that it's not going to be quicker - we know it's going to be quicker. But to finish first, you first have to finish. And race introduction now, with rules as they are currently, you've got to have reliability, otherwise you are history. The cost of unreliability in practice is severe. So 'we don't know' is the answer. It could be quite late."

May 4, 2003 Ferrari F2003-GA wins on debut, McLaren out after 18 laps

May 16, 2003 Coulthard eager for debut of MP4-18

David Coulthard: "There's a lot of excitement surrounding the new car. It's like waiting for Christmas. It seems to take longer when you want something to happen."

May 20, 2003 MP4-18 unveiled, Whitmarsh predicts success

Martin Whitmarsh: "There is an obvious sense of expectancy when you run a new car for the first time, a feeling which is perhaps heightened this year as we believe the MP4-18 will represent a significant step forward for the team. Our long-term strategy is to re-establish the team as a consistent winner, through increasing overall competitiveness and reliability. To achieve this demands significant, rather than incremental, steps. The race introduction of the MP4-18 has yet to be finalised and will not take place until we are in the position where the transition between the MP4-17D and the new car will be seamless."

Adrian Newey: "This car probably has had more research put into it than any other car I have worked on."

May 21, 2003 MP4-18 shakedown test, Wurz finishes last five secs off pace

David Coulthard: "There is a possibility it could go to Canada but it's more likely going to be the Nurburgring. I think the new car is going to help close the performance gap to Ferrari a lot but we can only bring it when it is reliable and that will take time to prove."

May 24, 2003 Whitmarsh predicts Nurburgring debut for MP4-18

Martin Whitmarsh: "There is a target to go racing at the European Grand Prix but we will manage the risk by making the decision nearer the date. Fortunately so far the teething problems have been of the variety which are frustrating and annoying but they are not large dramas. We'll fight through those fairly quickly."

May 29, 2003 Newey tips MP4-18 to race through into 2004

Adrian Newey: "I think we were in a fortunate position where the regulation stability allowed us to use last year's car and I think we can race the new car next season. I have no intention of beginning to design a new car until this one is running and I think we will race it at the start of next season. The design started last June and it has obviously taken a long time now it beginning to run in May. We've looked at it in detail and I hope it will be a reasonable car. Certainly for me it's been frustrating being this long in the birth, but I think we underestimated the difficulty of manufacturing while racing the existing car and the drain on resources that causes. We hope it's worth the wait, I guess."

Jun 3, 2003 Dennis says MP4-18 will show real pace in next test

Jun 6, 2003 McLaren run closed-door test in Barcelona, Raikkonen crashes

Jun 15, 2003 Dennis predicts Silverstone MP4-18 introduction at latest

Ron Dennis: "There's two decision points - how aggressive we have to be as regards our efforts to win the World Championship and the fact that the back-to-back races would put us under quite a bit of pressure with the new car. So I'd say the latest introduction would be Silverstone, but earlier introduction is not out of the question."

Jun 17, 2003 First public test in Jerez: Wurz wrecks MP4-18, finishes last

Jun 18, 2003 Jerez test: Raikkonen suffers gearbox problem, finishes third

Jun 19, 2003 Jerez test: MP4-18 breaks down twice, finishes last
New car fails FIA crash test back in England

Jun 20, 2003 Wurz back in car, finishes slower than Coulthard in old car

June 26, 2003Spokesman reveals new car failed crash test

"In order to further optimise the performance of the MP4-18 we have pushed the design to the limits, which is a natural step to take in the development process. After passing most of the homologation tests, the MP4-18 underwent further crash tests on June 19 where we had redesigned the crash structure to accommodate a new aerodynamic package which will be introduced later this year. We failed this particular crash test, causing slight damage to the monocoque. We have looked into it and are confident the car will pass the next test."

Jul 7, 2003 Dennis reveals another delay to MP4-18, hails 17D

Ron Dennis: "The 17D is more than capable of winning the World Championship. For the moment the important thing with the 18 is to make sure it is an option. That's what we're working on, to make sure we have a raceable option."

Jul 11, 2003 MP4-18 fastest after three days of no times, Haug denies failure

Norbert Haug: "Due to the upcoming test ban, we won't be able to bring the MP4-18 to any of the next three races. We aren't under time pressure and need additional tests. Building this completely new car is a complex task. The chances of the car being introduced this year are good and the MP4-18 represents in any event a perfect basis for next year's car. It doesn't matter at all whether it's called MP4-18 or 19. We didn't squander any money. It's not a failed project, rather the project of the future. We will harvest the fruits of it. There's no disquiet or panic around here. We're right in the midst of the Championship race. The old car has the potential to win races."

Aug 1, 2003 Testing ban begins

Aug 8, 2003 Dennis admits MP4-18 may not race in 2003

Ron Dennis: "We did a shakedown last week which was quite encouraging - we were just checking systems and changes. We've got a full test after Hungary - a comprehensive test with four cars, most likely two in Monza and two in Barcelona - and we'll make the choice after that. But it's leaning more and more towards continuing with the MP4-17D. But we'd like to see the result of the next test before making a final decision."

Aug 22, 2003 Coulthard gives up on MP4-18 for 2003, predicts strong 2004

David Coulthard: "I think in many ways I have more optimism and excitement for the start of next year than I had this year," the 32-year-old Briton told reporters at the Hungarian Grand Prix. We knew we were starting with the 17 (2002 car) and it was always going to be that we were starting with an updated old car. I really feel very positive about next season because the 18 is showing significant steps forward. By the time we race it, it will be the 19 and I really think McLaren will take a big step forward next year."

Aug 26, 2003 McLaren dump MP4-18, concentrate on MP4-17D

Ron Dennis: "We are focused on improving the performance of the current car and engine package at Monza and we are confident we'll be making a step there. We have an upgrade to the 17D that is clearly designed to enhance that car's competitiveness. We'll be testing it at Jerez and it's true to say we are concentrating our efforts on the 17D."

Sep 9, 2003 McLaren and Mercedes unveil new road supercar

Oct 11, 2003 McLaren say new MP4-19 will run before end of year

Ron Dennis: "Next year's car will be the 19 and it will run by the end of this year. The first chassis is in car build already. The 18 carried a significant quantity of innovations but it had some problems. The first problem was a heat management problem because of the tight packaging on the car. The structural problems were not actually that significant and they would never have stopped it racing."

Nov 24, 2003 McLaren announce brand changes

Nov 25, 2003 McLaren quietly launch MP4-19, run new car in shakedown
McLaren sign Ferrari aerodynamicist Nicholas Tombazis

Martin Whitmarsh: "The team is pleased that the preliminary shakedown of the MP4/19 has taken place at this early stage. This timeframe will allow us to fully maximise our pre-season test and development programme and help to meet our aim of arriving at the 2004 Australian Grand Prix with a technical package that is capable of sustaining a consistent challenge for both World Championships."

Norbert Haug: "From 2004 onwards Formula One will be a tougher challenge than ever. Only one engine will be permitted per driver, car and race weekend - a change in the regulations that sets the bar really high. Early and extensive tests are going to help both engine and chassis stand up to these new challenges."

Adrian Newey: "Although the MP4/19 incorporates significant carry-over from the MP4/18 and the findings gathered from its development programme in 2003.

Nov 27, 2003 Valencia test: Coulthard breaks record with MP4-19

Dec 4, 2003 Coulthard encouraged by MP4-19

David Coulthard: "Never in my life have I driven such a robust new car, so this is very encouraging. The engine never caused troubles and with the new year we'll have many new mechanical solutions that will take over from the ones that we are using from the MP4/18. My experience teaches me that really competitive cars aren't easy to drive, and this isn't at all

Jan 11, 2004 Jerez test: Raikkonen breaks record, fails to complete GP distance

Jan 22, 2004 Valencia test: Coulthard breaks record

Feb 7, 2004 Raikkonen raises fears over MP4-19

Kimi Raikkonen: "In testing at Jerez and Valencia the MP4/19 went really well, but at Montmelo we started to have problems. There haven't been many positive days of testing, so that's why I'm still not sure how good our new car really is. For the most part our problems have been with set-ups and the integration of the car with the new engine. I think that the reliability of the new Mercedes engines won't be a problem at all, especially when the new evolution will come."

Feb 21, 2004 Raikkonen fearful over opening race for MP4-19

Kimi Raikkonen: "I don't have big expectations for the start of the season, but only in Melbourne we'll know where we are. At the moment it seems unlikely that we'll be able to finish the race. Our car often has various problem; we need to solve those before concentrating on its speed."

Feb 27, 2004 Dennis promises long development programme for MP4-19

Ron Dennis: "We've got an extremely intensive development programme which will unfold during the course of the next few months which will, hopefully, provide us with added competitiveness. If we can build on a strong performance in Australia, great, but if we are somewhat behind in Australia it will certainly give us some confidence that we'll move ahead because we are constantly working hard in pushing performance."

Mar 2, 2004 McLaren head into season full of promise

David Coulthard: "Although we have been running the MP4-19 since late November last year, it is difficult to make any true predictions until Melbourne."

Kimi Raikkonen: "From what we have seen in testing, the signs are that we will have another exciting championship."

Martin Whitmarsh: "The design process of the MP4-19 was heavily influenced by a number of the new technical regulations, perhaps the most fundamental is the single engine rule. The MP4-19 had its first shakedown last November, the earliest we have ever run a new car. We have completed 14,500km over 32 days testing and are looking forward to running the car in a competitive environment."

Mar 5, 2004 Australian GP: McLaren finish 8th and 10th in practice, Dennis talks down times

Ron Dennis: "With today's practice sessions not contributing to grid or qualifying positions, teams have understandably adopted different strategies for what, is effectively a test in preparation for the real event. As a result times are of little significance."

Mar 6, 2004 Australian GP: McLaren qualify 10th and 12th, Ferrari one-two

Ron Dennis: "Neither driver had the pace needed to be competitive. Maybe we've taken a slightly conservative approach. We openly admit we lack some pace, definitely, and we know that all of us who contribute to the performance of the team have to do better.

Mar 7, 2004 Australian GP: Coulthard 8th, Raikkonen retires after 10 laps

David Coulthard: "We have had the first reality check to our pace and performance and it wasn't good. We are certainly going to improve but I can't promise we will improve sufficiently to get to the front. Our performance isn't there and we have quite a mountain to climb. We need to improve in every area and that's what we're gonna do. We can't hide from it."

Mar 10, 2004 Determined Dennis promises fightback, defends Whitmarsh

Ron Dennis: "We think we understand [our weaknesses], they are not going to be fixed in five minutes, but they will be fixed. Nothing is more certain than that we will come back to dominance, that I am convinced of. People say '(Martin Whitmarsh) is not as good as you are', but my view on that - putting aside that I think he is extremely competent in his job - is that no individual can be around forever and I think the worst thing any manager can do is act like a light switch - one minute you are there, one minute you are not. You have to have overlap when you are trying to protect the grand values, the credibility and integrity of an organisation. It takes time, overlap takes time."

Mar 21, 2004 Malaysia GP, Coulthard 6th, Raikkonen retires

David Coulthard: "We can take some satisfaction from the fact that we have improved our package since Melbourne, but we still have some way to go. I know everybody in the entire team will continue to work hard until we are where we want to be which is at the front."

Norbert Haug: "It is hard to predict how long it will take but it will not be the short term. We need to work flat out, we need to improve everything, but we are a team that has depth and possibilities to overcome problems. You cannot afford to have one weak part in the whole package and certainly cannot afford not to finish."

Apr 2, 2004 Bahrain GP: Raikkonen forced to change engine

Apr 4, 2004 Bahrain GP: Both McLarens out with engine failures

Apr 23, 2004 McLaren announce re-shuffle, Ilmor boss Hans-Ullrich Maik out, Whitmarsh takes over

Norbert Haug: "I think that is a very good step in the right direction. Martin Whitmarsh is responsible for both chassis and engine and the organisation in practical terms and we want to work as one entity. Almost everything went wrong so far and maybe the step (we made) was a little bit too big. Sometimes things like that happen. They should not and I think all the team were very motivated, trying to make a big step in the right direction."

Apr 24, 2004 San Marino GP: Raikkonen suffers engine problem in qualifying, Dennis stays positive

Ron Dennis: "It is difficult to say how long it will take - double figures in races I think. It will take a while, but we will improve all the time, all the way. We are a strong organisation and we will return to competitive form sooner than most people think."

Apr 25, 2004 San Marino GP: Raikkonen 8th from back of grid, Coulthard 12th

May 9, 2004 Spanish GP: Coulthard 10th, Raikkonen 11th, Ferrari lap both

May 11, 2004 Dennis reveals plans for MP4-19B car

Ron Dennis: "I anticipate that we will have a significant performance step sometime in the next six races, sooner rather than later. Our energy is very much going on to that."

Norbert Haug: "We can react quite quickly, but quite quickly means at least half a year's time in reality. I'm not sure whether we will be there in five or six races but I'm sure that you will see an upward trend in the second half of the season."

May 20, 2004 Newey announces new car debut in weeks, admits embarrassment

Adrian Newey: "We're building the car at the moment and we expect it will be out somewhere between two weeks and four weeks. In terms of lap time benefit, the simulation says it should be significant. It's an updated car so virtually all the mechanical parts are the same but from the bodywork perspective it's heavily updated. We have had a few engine embarrassments but when you have problems you tend to go back to the structure and management of the company. The problems have been recognised and there have been some large changes made. They are very good changes and I am very confident for the future. I would hope we will see steady improvements on the engine side."

May 23, 2004 Monaco GP: Coulthard crashes, Raikkonen engine failure

May 29, 2004 European GP: Raikkonen qualifies 4th, Coulthard engine failure
Haug reveals Werner Laurenz leaves Mercedes

May 30, 2004 European GP: Raikkonen and Coulthard suffer engine failures
Dennis refuses to lay blame on Mercedes

Ron Dennis: "To catch up you have to take risks and push and take the embarrassments that are associated when you take risks - but those are completely forgotten when you're in the winner's circle and that's where we intend to be. Anybody who writes off any part of our organisation is short-sighted. All teams find themselves in this situation and often they pull each other apart. We have no intention of that."

Jun 6, 2004 Silverstone test: MP4-19B breaks cover, second fastest

Kimi Raikkonen: "We only managed to do a few laps in the morning due to rain but we were able to do some more running in the afternoon when the track was drying. My first impression of the car is that it feels good.

Jun 9, 2004 Whitmarsh predicts victory for MP4-19B but no Canada debut

Martin Whitmarsh: "The car is good enough to get us close to the top. We want to win a race or two before the end of this season and we believe that we have a programme that will now enable us to do that. Kimi and Ron were sufficiently confident about the car I came under pressure to take it to Canada. We'd love to take it to Canada but that would be irresponsible...the disciplined approach is to carry on with our test programme. It still hasn't passed all of the necessary checks. The last week has increased our confidence and I think France is a sensible and realistic target."

Jun 13, 2004 Canadian GP: Raikkonen 7th, Coulthard 9th

June 20, 2004US GP: Raikkonen 4th after engine problem, Coulthard 7th

Kimi Raikkonen: "We have taken a step forward with the MP4-19 and were able to run reasonably competitively. I'm disappointed as I could have finished on the podium but I was forced to make two unscheduled stops as the team had to top up the pneumatic air system on the engine with additional air."

Jun 30, 2004 McLaren announce on-time French debut for MP4-19B

Martin Whitmarsh: "Following its second encouraging test at Jerez last week we have taken the decision to introduce MP4-19B at Magny Cours. We believe it is a step in the right direction but we are 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."

Jul 3, 2004 French GP: Coulthard qualifies 3rd, Raikkonen 9th, Dennis predicts wins

Ron Dennis: "It would be wrong to say we are going to win races, but it (the new car) has the potential for that. I wouldn't put any outlook on the season but I would be delighted if we could win some races."

Jul 4, 2004 French GP: Coulthard 6th, Raikkonen 7th

David Coulthard: "Obviously it was much improved in what we have seen in previous races, that is what we have to use as the building block. We weren't that consistent. I am more confident but clearly there is more work to be done."

Jul 10, 2004 British GP: Raikkonen claims pole, Coulthard 7th, Haug says reliability issues solved

Kimi Raikkonen: "We'll try to win...this car's much stronger in the race than the old one. It has a better rear end and also the aerodynamics are different and the engine. I was confident in the other car but it just wasn't quick enough and you cannot make it quicker just by driving. This is just the first few races now with the new car and I'm sure we can improve and make it even quicker, so I'm looking forward to the rest of the season."

Norbert Haug: "Our reliability issues are addressed. The guys are working in the right direction and we should be in quite good shape - it is close to the limit, and I think we made quite significant steps in both power and reliability and more steps will follow."

Jul 11, 2004 British GP: Raikkonen 2nd, Coulthard 7th
Dennis, Newey promise to make journalist Bob McKenzie suffer

Kimi Raikkonen: "At least we got the second place. All the hard work that went into the development of the MP4-19B has paid off."

Ron Dennis: "I am holding him (McKenzie) to it (running naked at Silverstone if McLaren win). I don't think we are that far away and we've got more things in the pipeline."

Adrian Newey: "I'd enjoy watching that. Well, I don't know if I'd enjoy watching it, but I'd enjoy hearing about it."

Jul 23, 2004 German GP: Coulthard confused by double spin

David Coulthard: "I haven't had a spin in a long time so it is a bit strange. It is a bit bizarre. All I can do is try to react to how the car feels. If it is chucking me off the circuit then there has to be a reason for that. I am not consciously out there trying to not get round the lap - I just want to finish the lap, get a lap time and take it from there. But definitely it is something strange."

Jul 25, 2004 German GP: Raikkonen crashes, Coulthard 4th

Kimi Raikkonen: "There was no doubt that we were in with a good chance of winning the race to keep up with Michael. It's never nice not to finish a race, but at least we know that the pace is there. We are competitive and I'm looking forward to continue our challenge for victory in three weeks time in Hungary."

Aug 15, 2004 Hungarian GP: Raikkonen engine failure, Coulthard 9th

David Coulthard: "I think we will just forget about this weekend and look forward to the Belgian Grand Prix in two weeks time."

Aug 29, 2004 Belgian GP: Raikkonen wins

Kimi Raikkonen: "We have had a difficult season and when we got the 19B out we got some speed but we have still been struggling to finish. Now we have finally got what we deserved. Hopefully we can keep it up and challenge next year for the title."

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The Empire Strikes Back

Volume 10, Issue 37
September 15th 2004

Atlas F1 Exclusive

Interview with Martin Whitmarsh
by Will Gray

Interview with Norbert Haug
by Will Gray

The Woking Timeline
by Will Gray

Bjorn Wirdheim: Going Places
by Bjorn Wirdheim

Ann Bradshaw: Point of View
by Ann Bradshaw

GP Review

2004 Italian GP Review
by Pablo Elizalde

Technical Review: Italy
by Craig Scarborough

The Good Old Days
by Karl Ludvigsen

The Frantic Quarter
by Richard Barnes


Qualifying Differentials
by Marcel Borsboom

by David Wright

Charts Centre
by Michele Lostia


Season Strokes
by Bruce Thomson

On the Road
by Reuters

Elsewhere in Racing
by David Wright & Mark Alan Jones

The Weekly Grapevine
by Dieter Rencken

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