Belgian GP Saturday Williams Notes

The Winfield Williams F1 drivers, Ralf Schumacher and Alex Zanardi finished fifth and eighth fastest respectively. Ralf achieved his best qualifying position of the season, whilst Alex qualified in eighth, his best position also. Ralf ...

The Winfield Williams F1 drivers, Ralf Schumacher and Alex Zanardi finished fifth and eighth fastest respectively. Ralf achieved his best qualifying position of the season, whilst Alex qualified in eighth, his best position also.

Ralf Schumacher

Best Position: 5th Chassis: FW21 06 T-Car chassis FW21-02 Best Time: 1:51:414

"I am happy with my position even though after this morning practice I could have hoped to do slightly better, although an Arrows slowed me down in my fastest lap. Also if we consider that my qualifying time is only a couple of hundredth away from the third place, I must be pleased. Of course, is good to start from the fifth position on the grid, as I never qualified better than eighth so far this year and so I can hope to be in the points tomorrow or… even something more!"

Alex Zanardi

Best Position: 8th Chassis: FW21 05 Best Time: 1:52:014

"Well, it's a pity because during qualifying I had some brake problems that had started already this morning, in the free practice session. I really appreciate the team's effort, but we haven't managed to solve them so far. In fact we are "wandering in the dark" with regards to the solution and it's a real shame because I am quite sure I could have done something better than that. Anyway, today's result is better than usual!"

Patrick Head, technical director

"I am very pleased that today we achieved our best qualifying position this year and very pleased to see that Alex despite a small problem with the brake balance on his car, is in the top eight. He had a very good practice this morning, making improvements throughout the session. Anyway, it's definitely a better position to start the race from."

BAR drivers Jacques Villeneuve and Ricardo Zonta walked away unhurt from two separate massive accidents at the infamous Eau Rouge corner at Spa- Francorchamps during qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix this afternoon, (Saturday).

Villeneuve, who survived a similar accident last year, crashed coming out of the 300kph (175 mph) bend. His car hit the barrier on the outside of the track, overturned but Villeneuve was able to walk away and get back to the pits to get in the spare car.

Just a lap after the session restarted his team-mate Zonta went off at the same place but his car hit the barrier on the inside of the track. It rolled twice before spinning across the track and stopping in a similar place to Villeneuve's car. Zonta was shocked but was able to walk into the medical centre.

When the session got underway for the third time Mika Hakkinen grabbed pole position from his McLaren team-mate David Coulthard with the Jordan pair of Heinz-Harald Frentzen and last year's winner Damon Hill sharing the second row of the grid.

It was a good session for the Winfield WilliamsF1 team with Ralf Schumacher fifth fastest and Alex Zanardi eighth.

A real indication that Michael Schumacher must be planning his much publicised comeback came when the FIA issued a reminder about team orders on Thursday, a day before practice got underway at Spa. Schumacher did not appear at that particular practice, despite many journalists forecasting his return after a successful test a Mugello last week, but the 'scarlet pimpernel' could well be back in the Ferrari hot seat at Monza in two weeks time. Hence the reminder about team orders.

If Schumacher will help Eddie Irvine in his bid to win Ferrari their first title for 20 years is still open to conjecture but the FIA's reminder has certainly oiled the wheels for such a move.

There is no prohibition of team orders as such. The World Council merely reminded competitors of the long standing provisions of Article 151c of the international Sporting Code, which prohibit any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition and made it clear that any such act would be penalised. Their statement at Spa reminded the teams, 'Two competitions are taking place simultaneously at each Formula One grand prix, the world championship, which extends over 16 races and the individual race itself. It is perfectly legitimate for a team to decide that one of its drivers is its championship contender and that the other will support him. What is not acceptable, in the World Council's view, is any arrangement which interferes with a race and cannot be justified by the relevant team's interest in the championship. Any arrangement between teams which might interfere with the race would also be unacceptable.'

The final paragraph left the door wide open for arguments.

'Should a case occur, it will be judged on its facts and in the light of long-standing motorsport tradition.'

Long standing motorsport tradition - does that mean it was acceptable for David Coulthard to move over and let his McLaren team-mate Mika Hakkinen win that opening race last season at Melbourne in Australia, I certainly hope not.

Motorsport tradition is surely more about Mika Salo making way for his Ferrari team-mate Eddie Irvine to win at Hockenheim in Germany and grab the lead in the championship.

It's a grey area but gets easier to understand as the season draws to a close and championship contenders emerge. I'm sure Coulthard will do all he can to help Hakkinen retain his drivers' title. Moving over to let his team-mate through will be a lot more acceptable in the last five grands prix of the season than it was in the championship opener in Melbourne.

Schumacher moving over to let Irvine win the first title for Ferrari in 20 long barren years is certainly acceptable to the outside world. If it is acceptable to Schumacher himself and the management at Ferrari only time will tell.

Reminders from the FIA about team orders will have little to do with that particular decision.

    
     
      
        

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Ralf Schumacher , Michael Schumacher , Heinz-Harald Frentzen , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen , Jacques Villeneuve , Ricardo Zonta , Mika Salo , Alex Zanardi , Damon Hill , Patrick Head
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams , Jordan