The McLaren MP4/19 made its inaugural debut at the Valencia Circuit in Spain. David Coulthard was given the honor of navigating the vehicle around the track. Mounted behind him was a 3-liter, ten-cylinder Mercedes-Benz engine which was matted to a seven-speed McLaren semi-automatic sequential gearbox which drove the rear wheels. In comparison to its predecessor, the MP4/19 had been given significant improvements. Many of the changes were in compliance with the new FIA regulations - the biggest of these changes stated that a single engine was to be used per driver, per race. The Mercedes-Benz engine was built to satisfy the long race weekend which includes practice, qualifying, and the race. The result was a very compact and lightweight unit which improved the vehicles handling and center of gravity.
The start of the year was rather dismal for the McLaren team. As a result, the team quickly began work on an updated version of their racer. The new car was ready well into the season, with seven races already having been contended. The MP4/19B featured slight improvements such as revised rear bodywork and sidepods. The car made its racing debut at the French Grand Prix in Magny Cours. High expectations were placed on the car since it had done so well in practice at the Silverstone track. The car had recorded a second fastest time with Kimi Raikkonen at the wheel and in wet conditions.
At the French Grand Prix, both team drivers were able to score points. The next race was at Silverstone and Raikkonen drove the car fast enough in qualifying to sit in the 'B' position on the pole. At the drop of the checkered flag, the car and driver were in second place which was the teams first podium finish of the season.
By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2007