New McLaren Will Not Race Before Silverstone

McLaren will not race their new Formula One car until next month's British Grand Prix at the earliest.

New McLaren Will Not Race Before Silverstone

McLaren will not race their new Formula One car until next month's British Grand Prix at the earliest.

A team spokeswoman said no date for the car's debut had been set but ruled it out for this weekend's European Grand Prix or in France a week later.

"It is...imperative that we do not jeopardise our championship campaign by introducing a car which has not been developed sufficiently to achieve the requisite level of reliability," she said today.

"The logistical challenges of the two 'back to back' races at the Nurburgring and Magny Cours do not support an introduction of the new car during these races. We will therefore only introduce the new car once we are confident that it will enhance our championship programme."

McLaren are second in the constructors' standings, nine points behind Ferrari. Finland's Kimi Raikkonen is three points adrift of Ferrari's World Champion Michael Schumacher after half the season.

The British Grand Prix on July 20 will be the 11th round of the 16 race season and David Coulthard can give the new MP4-18 its debut at home if the team decide to introduce it at Silverstone.

McLaren have had limited time to test the car, which made its track debut before the Monaco Grand Prix on May 21, and will not be able to run it again until after France.

That test is also likely to be the last opportunity to run the car before a summer ban comes into force until after Hungary on August 24. Raikkonen crashed in testing in Spain this month while Austrian test driver Alexander Wurz wrecked one of the new cars at Jerez last week.

The team had aimed provisionally for a race debut at the Nurburgring but suggested at the last race in Canada that the car would not be ready by then. The spokeswoman said the team remained confident: "Our goal is to win the 2003 Formula One World Championship.

"We believe that we are in a good position to do so and that the strategy to employ the much developed MP4-17D in the first half of the season has provided us with the platform from which we can achieve our goal."

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