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Q&A: Sam Michael (McLaren)

McLaren sporting director Sam Michael speaks to Crash.net about the upcoming F1 season during the Autosport International Karting Challenge, which celebrated the life of the late Dan Wheldon and helped to raise funds for Alzheimer's Society.
Crash.net:
Sam, you're here with a team from McLaren to take part in the [karting] event. Is this a case of letting your hair down before the real business gets underway?

Sam Michael:
The work doesn't stop in F1 these days. We have been at it all year but, from the Monday after Brazil, all of our focus was on 2013 from an operational point of view. Tonight we brought down a team for a bit of fun on a Friday evening and it is for a good cause as well, supporting charities and also supporting Dan's family.

It is also a team-building thing but, aside from us as a group, it enables you to stay in touch with your grass roots and meet some of the karters who are starting out in our industry. These are things I like to give back to the sport.

Crash.net:
We all know the story of the young karter who impressed McLaren while he was younger, so it shows that you never know who you might spot...

Sam Michael:
That's right and you do see talent in the field sometimes, there can be guys who stand out. It is always worth keeping an eye out but its also nice as people can just walk up to you and have a chat at the side of the track which they obviously can't do in F1 as most of these guys can't get access to the pit-lane at a grand prix and, even if they could, we are busy working to make the car go quicker.

Crash.net:
As you said, work has been ongoing on 2013 for some time. It's a big season for McLaren with a new driver line-up and a determination to improve on third place in the standings last year. How is the team feeling ahead of the new season?

Sam Michael:
We're really excited and I think everyone is really motivated for the 2013 season. We have Checo [Perez] in the car now, we have a world champion in Jenson Button and we are really looking forward to going racing again. It hasn't been a big break, but most racers aren't that interested in a break and want to keep racing. We've had enough [of a break] to really have a good look at all the things that we think we can make improvements on from last year and have addressed any issues there, and we are going out there to fight for race wins in 2013; that is what this year is all about.

Checo is just starting with the team and all the signs are that he has his head turned on. He is a great character and has fitted in quickly and he is someone who we hope will grow inside the team into a race-winning driver.

Crash.net:
He is replacing Lewis who has been involved with McLaren for so many years. How hard is it for the team to adapt to that change when they have been so used to working with another driver?

Sam Michael:



Tagged as: Mclaren , Sam Michael , karting , 2013

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