Australian GP Tyrrell preview

TYRRELL ON THE UP DOWN UNDER The Tyrrell Racing Organization is approaching next week's Australian Grand Prix backed by the confidence of having complet- ed nearly 5000 kms of trouble-free winter testing. A new ...

TYRRELL ON THE UP DOWN UNDER The Tyrrell Racing Organization is approaching next week's Australian Grand Prix backed by the confidence of having complet- ed nearly 5000 kms of trouble-free winter testing. A new chassis, a new engine and a new driver could have been a recipe for an unsettled pre-season. The Tyrrell-Ford 025, however, equipped with the Ford ED4 engine and driven by highly- rated Mika Salo and new arrival to the team, Jos Verstappen, has responded very well and shown itself to be a highly promising package for 1997. According to Harvey Postlethwaite. Managing Director, Engi- neering, the team is looking forward to the start of the new campaign. "In these early races, reliability is absolutely critical," he explains. "The mileage we have achieved this winter has ena- bled us to get most of the reliability bugs out of the car, whereas some of the teams may be doing a race distance for the first time in Melbourne. "We have been able to balance the car and I must say that it is a pleasure to work with Cosworth again - they have been most supportive throughout the testing programme and the engine has proved to be consistent." Mika Salo, the talented Finnish driver, who is beginning his third year with Tyrrell, is looking forward to returning to Melbourne. "Last year I was very pleased to finish in sixth place after qualifying 10th in the spare car," he recalls. "The circuit was really, really good and I liked it from the beginning." Regarding this year's race, Salo thinks that retirements will play a significant role in the outcome. "It is the first race of the season again, so reliability is very important; I think we have it and the car feels good, so I'm confident about doing well." Tyrrell's new recruit for 1997 is 24-year old Jos Verstappen and the team has been impressed by the attitude and performance of the Dutch ace. "It's a joy to have Jos on the team," agrees Postlethwaite. "He has acquitted himself very well in testing and it is good for the team to have a racing driver who is thoroughly professional, but who also has a bit of spirit. He's a good lad to have around and I'm sure he will do very well this season." Verstappen is beginning his third full season in F1 and he has quickly settled in at the Ockham-based team. "Tyrrell is a very friendly team and I am pleased that we have worked together so well in a short time," he enthused. "The guys have all done an excellent job so far and I think we are looking good for Melbourne. The car feels good, the engine is reliable, I am very motivated and can't wait to start racing again." Mike Gascoyne, Deputy Technical Director at Tyrrell was impressed with the Melbourne circuit last year. "It is a very interesting circuit where we need to find the right balance between downforce and straight line speed," he said. "There are good overtaking opportunities, mostly as a result of braking hard from high speed to slower corners and therefore quite heavy on the brakes. "The kerbs are high, so the drivers tend not to use them, and apart from a few bumps on the straights the surface is smooth, although the track will be very dirty for the first day or so. "I think you will see lap times come down over the three days. The weather will be a major factor on race day; this has been one of the hottest summers in Australia for a century, so even for those teams who have been testing in Jerez and Barcelo- na, it will be difficult to predict how the new cars will react to the heat. "It will come down to survival of the fittest and the final result may be entirely different from the rest of the races this year. It is sure to be a fascinating start to the season." TAC SPONSORSHIP For the Melbourne race, the Tyrrell-Ford 025 will carry sponsorship from the Australian Transport Accident Commission (TAC) to heighten awareness of the campaign against drink-driving in Australia. The first round of the 1997 FIA Formula One World Champion- ship, the Tyrrell Racing Organization's 30th year in Grand Prix racing, gets underway at 1400 hours local time (0300 GMT) in Melbourne, Australia on Sunday March 9th. The 58-lap race will take place around the 5.302-km circuit in Albert Park, covering a total distance of 307.518 kms.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jos Verstappen , Mika Salo