Testing ban holds firm

McLaren boss Ron Dennis says that there is no way that McLaren can circumnavigate the gentleman's agreement summer testing ban that has come at a highly inconvenient time for the team's new MP4-18

Testing ban holds firm

As the Nurburgring pole position shows, Kimi Raikkonen's championship challenge is still a potent enough force with the MP4-17D, but the new car could clearly be an important tool if the Finn takes the fight with Michael Schumacher right down to the wire over the second half of the season.

"We need the new car to win next year but the big question is whether we need it this year," Dennis said at Nurburgring. "We set a number of schedules for the car and they are moved by the outcome of each race, in terms of whether our strategy needs to be low or high risk. The second driving force is the outcome of each test.

"The frustrating thing is that we were one of the advocates of the mid-season break, in order to take some of the pressure off the test personnel and the race personnel who attend all the races. In its original form the ban was meant to last from the Monday after the race preceding it, to the Monday after the following race, but the way things have evolved, this year it has become seven weeks, which is very disruptive."

Dennis said that the next test, at Barcelona, will be crucial to the timing of the car's introduction but insisted that there was no pressure to race it from anywhere except the media. One suspects that if Raikkonen is still deeply involved in the championship battle as July and August unfold, that might change a little...

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