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GP Week : Issue 1
TONIO SAYS: They are not a rookie team so they know what they are doing. They will show their performance, they will be fast, but they don’t seem to have the same pace as Ferrari. Last year they seemed to be faster compared to Ferrari than this season. It will be difficult to develop the car with two young drivers. Lewis and Heikki both have one year of racing experience in F1, but it will be a tough year. I think they are the second-fastest team at the moment, but being down a different end of the pitlane may make it a hard year for McLaren. Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Lewis Hamilton (GBR) / Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) WHEN I was about 12 years old I bought a book of sporting quotations. I read it cover to cover, digesting all that I could. But there was one quote above all that stuck in my mind, and has done so ever since. It was marked down as being the motto of Ron Dennis and said, simply, “Neither success nor failure is ever final.” I have never actually enquired as to whether or not the attribution of the motto to the man is accurate, but from the manner in which he carries both himself and his team, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were so. 2007 was a nightmare for McLaren. But just as the team has moved to draw a line underneath the mistakes which led to its monstrous fine, loss of constructors’ points and ultimately both F1 championships, so must we. If for nothing else, McLaren will be thankful that 2007 happened for one simple reason. And that reason finished the first nine races of his F1 career on the podium. Lewis Hamilton is one of the finest racing drivers I have ever laid eyes on. His natural flair, his raw ability and his determination both inside and outside the cockpit are frightening. He’s just an incredible talent. But so is his team-mate. He may be a touch more shy, perhaps lacking that glorious nigh-on choreographed fluidity in his racecraft and the aggressiveness of the likes of Lewis, but Heikki Kovalainen is by no means any slower. In fact, I’d wager him giving the Brit quite a run for his money this season. Heikki has not had a car to match his astounding talent since he won the World Series back in 2004. This year, he may just get the ride he deserves. And if he was fast in a weak car, he’ll be blistering in a decent one. The new McLaren’s design may have initially been held back with the team having to scrap many of its developments due to a fairly open-ended definition of what might possibly have constituted a Ferrari-influenced idea, but the MP4-23 is bloody quick. McLaren’s drivers may be young and relatively inexperienced… but they too are bloody quick. As Ron Dennis’ alleged motto states, the team is a far cry from being a beaten force. Words to live by ... o p in io n Will Buxton GPWeek Editor F1 PREVIEW >> 30