Luciano Burti Despite a big disappointment in front of his home crowd, Luciano Burti remains philosophical about his third race for Jaguar Racing. On the back of improvements in qualifying times, next to those of BAR and Jordan, it was...
Despite a big disappointment in front of his home crowd, Luciano Burti remains philosophical about his third race for Jaguar Racing. On the back of improvements in qualifying times, next to those of BAR and Jordan, it was particularly hard on him that a points finish was snatched away, by an all too rare engine failure.
“I didn’t have a particularly good start with both Alesi and Verstappen passing me,” he said. “After that, however, my pace was very good, but overtaking Verstappen was hard because of his speed on the straight.
“When I finally got past him, I pulled away by a second over the remainder of that lap. This showed how much he was holding me up by. I then had the pace to begin chasing the guys in front but on the same lap I heard a strange noise.”
The noise turned out to be a terminal engine problem, rare for the Cosworth, which last failed in Austria, all the way back in 1999. “It was diagnosed as a water seal problem and I had no choice but to retire from the race,” explained the Brazilian.
“It’s a real shame to go out from a race that offered us some long overdue reward. If I had to choose one race to finish, and finish well, it would be here. We had the car to do it today, but we must now focus on San Marino and begin making the most of what we have.”
For the third race in a row Eddie Irvine found himself at the back of the pack in the opening laps, although this time another driver was not to blame. His car refused to fire up on the starting grid and the mechanics were forced to work on his car outside of the permitted time slot and the ensuing stop/go penalty was inevitable.
This was very unfortunate in a race where so many of the main runners hit problems. Eddie was capable of matching the pace of the Saubers, who took third position, and he knew that a good chance of a points finish had been missed.
“This race offered us the potential of a points finish but luck was not on our side today,” he said. “Things didn’t begin well with the 10-second stop/go penalty, but the team called a perfect pit-stop strategy today that allowed me to climb up the pecking order.
“The car felt good and well-balanced throughout the race, apart from an early tyre problem. At the start of the race my rear tyres blistered and I really struggled until the fuel load came down and then the car began feeling really good. I was up into sixth place when I lost the rear end going into Turn Five. I managed to get it back down onto the track, but the engine had stalled and I had to retire.”
Team boss Bobby Rahal was impressed with the way the team handled the changing conditions, and believes it’s just a matter of time before Jaguar Racing has a change of luck. “We just can’t seem to get a break, but it will come,” he said. “Eddie was penalised at the beginning for a problem that was no fault of his own, but he battled his way through the field and managed to get himself into sixth position before he spun off."
He also praised the performance of Eddie's team-mate Luciano Burti, who also stood a good chance of making it into the points before his engine failed.
“Luciano has done a great job all weekend, but lady luck was obviously against him today. Verstappen delayed him for quite some time and no sooner had he overtaken him, he was sidelined by an engine water seal problem. This is the first race failure of a Cosworth F1 engine since Austria 1999.
“The team executed a shrewd pit-stop strategy and was rewarded with Eddie’s impressive climb up to sixth position before his spin. It’s obviously frustrating to exit a race in this manner but, like I said, our time will come. We are pressing hard with our development work and I’m sure our reward isn’t too far away.”