Having completed 700 laps and over 3 000 km in testing at Jerez, the McLaren-Mercedes MP4-19B has been given the go-ahead to race at the French Grand Prix this weekend. But will the new car be significantly better than its much-maligned predecessor?

Having completed 700 laps and over 3 000 km in testing at Jerez, the McLaren-Mercedes MP4-19B has been given the go-ahead to race at the French Grand Prix this weekend. But will the new car be significantly better than its much-maligned predecessor?


The Woking-based team have had a dismal start to 2004 with the team having to endure eight retirements due to technical problems and engine failures in nine races. The team lies in fifth place in the constructors' championship, having scored only 17 points, a massive 127 points behind leaders Ferrari on 144.


But Mercedes-Benz motorsport director Norbert Haug said that the MP4-19B, which had undergone "many, many changes", performed well in testing.


"We're really looking forward to the race," Haug said, "but that's not to say that we don't have any concerns or that we are in a state of euphoria. We learned a lot in testing, especially from June 22 to 25 in Spain when there were very high temperatures."


"I hope the car is as reliable at the weekend as it was in Jerez," said driver Kimi Raikkonen, to which his team-mate David Coulthard added he was "convinced that we are moving forward and am curious as to how the cars will perform at Magny Cours".


McLaren managing director Martin Whitmarsh said that the car was definitely an improvement: "We're certain that the MP4-19B will bring us a step forward with regard to performance and reliability. That's why we've decided to use it in the race."