Benetton making best even better World champion's team attribute success to planning and improvement by Timothy Collings DAMON HILL may feel he has enough problems already, but at next weekend's British Grand Prix he faces the prospect of...
Benetton making best even better
World champion's team attribute success to planning and improvement by Timothy Collings
DAMON HILL may feel he has enough problems already, but at next weekend's British Grand Prix he faces the prospect of seeing Michael Schumacher enjoy another set of significant modifications to the Benetton B195 which left him in its wake at Magny-Cours on Sunday afternoon.
Not content with the satisfactory introduction of a new engine cover, airbox and roll-hoop for the French Grand Prix, Benetton's ambitious technical director, Ross Brawn, now plans to overhaul his car's electronics in time for Silverstone and then the underside aerodynamics in readiness for the Hungarian Grand Prix next month.
While Hill toils to discover why the impressive qualifying performances he produced in France were not repeated during the race, his greatest rival, who now has a commanding 11-point lead in the championship, will be concentrating on increasing his superiority.
Brawn, while reluctant to make any predictions, exuded confidence as he surveyed his team's impressive surge back to form over the last four races. Referring to the electronics, he said: "We want to put several boxes into one to reduce the weight of the car. It should improve our reliability."
As Schumacher has won three of the last four races, such reliability problems may cause Hill to grin ruefully at that statement, but the knowledge that Benetton have also improved the mechanics and software of their transmission system would be likely to leave him with little more than half a smile.
Twelve months ago any talk of such software alterations might have raised eyebrows as Benetton began a summer of drama and disqualifications, which deprived Schumacher of two results and banned him from two other races, but this year the team have worked diligently to avoid trouble.
Brawn, who admitted last year's difficulties were born of naivety, said: "There were misunderstandings on both sides. We were naive when we had success and came under scrutiny. We had to be bullet-proof, but we left too many doors open and we could not disprove all the allegations. This year we can. All the changes we make are passed by the FIA. For us, there has been a change in all of this and in the way the FIA work. We are co-operating."
This might suggest that on current form the championship could be over before the European season reaches its conclusion in the autumn, but Brawn does not agree. "It is far too early to make any predictions," he said. "Williams are a very strong team. They will come back strongly again, for sure. I must admit, however, that they were not more competitive in Montreal in the race. I was not quite sure if it was Ferrari and us going forwards or Williams falling back. Sometimes it is difficult to tell."
Much easier to identify, particularly this season, has been Benetton's continuing knack of finding the right strategy to win tight races in the pit-lane, as they did on Sunday, at Monaco earlier in the year and several times last season. Brawn attributed this to clinical preparation and a desire to "make sure we couldn't lose a race by throwing it away".
Hill, asked on Sunday evening about the timing of his pit-stops in relation to Schumacher's, appeared to be at a loss to find an answer. He admitted he had been watching the Benetton pit boards closely and was worried about the weather, but seemed unsure if he and Williams had a winning strategy of their own.
The Electronic Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/