McLaren have many reasons to seek Nurburg win

By Jens Marx, DPA

Nurburg (Germany) : Formula One championship leaders McLaren has three very good reasons to seek victory at the European Formula One Grand Prix Sunday.

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The team needs to rebound from losing the last two races to Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari; it is the home race for team partners Mercedes and they want to prove that an ongoing sabotage saga has not done them harm.

McLaren-Mercedes leads the constructors' standings and the drivers' points table as well from rookie Lewis Hamilton.

Sunday's race comes four days before McLaren have to appear before the ruling body FIA July 26, with a points penalty among the sanctions if they are found guilty in the sabotage affair.

There has been media speculation whether team officials were aware of classified Ferrari material given to their former chief designer Mike Coughlan by dismissed Ferrari engineer Nigel Stepney.

But McLaren insisted again Monday: "The fact that he held at his home unsolicited materials from Ferrari was not known to any other member of the team prior to July 3."

Mercedes motorsport chief Norbert Haug said the issue has not affected the team and the drivers Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

"Definitely not. Our team has nothing to do with it, and everyone on the team knows that," Haug told DPA.

"It makes us even more motivated to show that everything we are capable of comes from us. No one of us wants a trophy, which is not a product of our ideas. It would be worth nothing."

Haug also hopes for a good result because the team's previous two home races in Spain (Alonso) and Britain (Hamilton, McLaren) went to Ferrari.

Sunday's race comes 80 years after Mercedes driver Rudolf Caracciola won the first GP on the famed Nurburgring course in 1927.

"A home win at the home race would naturally be the greatest thing," said Haug.

"The Nurburgring and its history is synonymous with the brand and Mercedes-Benz's motor sport history, after Rudolf Caracciola won the opening race here 80 years ago, and the Silver Arrow was born at the Eifel race 73 years ago."

However, Haug admitted that improvement was necessary in order to get back to winning ways on a course where Mika Hakkinen was the last McLaren driver to win, back in 1998.

Raikkonen came famously close in 2005 when, driving for McLaren, he had to retire in leading position on the final lap. Alonso won last year, but with Renault.

"The truth is that we have won more Formula One races on other tracks than at the traditional Silver Arrow course. But we want to change this as soon as possible," Haug insisted.