The Countdown Has Begun

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McLaren will unveil its 2002 effort on Saturday, Jan. 19, the team announced this week.

The McLaren Mercedes MP4-17 will be unveiled with the usual pomp and circumstance of a launch and will then head out onto the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona for a test session.

Mercedes has designed a new V10 engine for the MP4-17, a unit which has been running on transient dynamometers at both the Ilmor Engineering headquarters at Brixworth and at the German company's Stuttgart factory.

The 2002 McLaren team will consist of drivers Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard and test driver Alexander Wurz.

”We welcome Kimi to the team, who in his first Formula One season impressed all of us very much and we are looking forward to working with him,” said Norbet Haug, head of Mercedes Motorsport. “David, having done a great job for the team for years, will be even stronger and I'm sure that Alex will continue to contribute to the team's performance.”

Time Running out for Prost
Another January date to note on the upcoming Formula One calendar includes January 14, which Alain Prost said is the end point for financial recovery. If the team gets backing on or before that date he has a good chance of setting up a team ready to run in the March 3 Grand Prix of Australia.

With their jobs in jeopardy, hundreds of Prost Grand Prix employees hit the streets of Paris’s financial district this week, asking for fellow Frenchmen to help the four-time World Champ save his racing team. The Prost Grand Prix supporters are hoping the French Government will help find money for the team.

In the meantime, Tomas Enge, who sat in for injured Luciano Burti for the last three races of the 2001 season, has to wait and see if he can become the first Czech-born man to run a full F-1 season.

Enge said he accepts that with no other racing jobs available he may have to return to F3000, perhaps combining this with some F1 testing for Minardi, but his disappointment is symptomatic of what many would feel if Prost cannot be rescued.

Enge drove a Prost car in the first four Grand Prix races of the 2001 season and was set to support Heinz-Harald Frentzen in the coming year, so the next two weeks are crucial to his future.

Montoya Ready to Start Fresh
Juan Pablo Montoya is eagerly anticipating the start of the 2002 campaign, after making a huge impression during his debut season with Williams.

The 26-year-old Colombian won the Italian Grand Prix and could have taken the checkered flag on more occasions if luck and greater reliability had been on his side.

The Williams-BMW team is constantly working to try and improve the performance of their car and Montoya has similarly not been idle during the last few months, as he prepares for a serious challenge during 2002.

He proved last year that he is not afraid to mix it with the more established drivers, despite his own lack of experience, but the coming season is a pivotal time for both Montoya and his teammate Ralf Schumacher.

“We expect to seriously challenge Ferrari this time and with a year under my belt I am more aware of what is required in order to win,” Montoya said. “You need to be ruthless and aggressive at times, not reckless, because this is a dangerous sport, but just prepared to go to the limit in order to defeat your rivals.

“When I first started driving go-karts as a young man, I didn’t consider myself to be aggressive on the track, but I have learned with experience that you must not allow yourself to be dominated, whilst always keeping a clear head during the race. I will do what is necessary in order to win, pushing myself right to the edge and I am eagerly anticipating the challenges coming up.”

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