Accident deprives Zonta of first appearance in his home Grand Prix Sao Paulo, Brazil, April 10 1999 - An accident in the second morning practice round prior to qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix ended Ricardo Zonta's hopes of competing in...
Accident deprives Zonta of first appearance in his home Grand Prix
Sao Paulo, Brazil, April 10 1999 - An accident in the second morning practice round prior to qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix ended Ricardo Zonta's hopes of competing in his first-ever home race today. The young Brazilian was airlifted to hospital for repairs on his left foot.
Doctors operated immediately to repair a severed tendon between the third and fourth toes of Zonta's left foot and pronounced him in good condition moments after the procedure. However, the accident leaves British American Racing with only one entry in Sunday's race.
Today's session proved to be emotional and difficult for British American Racing's other driver, Jacques Villeneuve.The Zonta accident cut some 30 minutes off the 45-minute practice session and Villeneuve, like many drivers, lost set-up time for qualifying.
Combined with a fuel cell leak on Friday, Villeneuve's engineering team spent the two days scrambling to catch up. The Canadian could only turn in the 16th best time on the damp track during the qualifying session run in a fine mist on the demanding, hilly 2.67- mile Interlagos track, one of only two on the Formula One circuit in which cars race counterclockwise. Villeneuve's best lap was run in one minute, 19.377 seconds, 2.809 seconds off the pace.
The team's woes did not end there. It was subsequently discovered that Villeneuve's car was running with the wrong fuel mixture and, as a result, the Canadian has been placed 21st and last on the starting grid on Sunday.
Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard of McLaren-Mercedes were 1-2 in qualifying with times of 1:16.568 and 1:16.715 respectively. Right behind them with his first qualifying podium in three years was Rubens Barrichello of Stewart-Ford with a time of 1:17.578.
Jacques Villeneuve - 1:19.377 - 16th "So far, it's been a bad weekend for the team. Because of the problems yesterday and the cancelled session this morning, we started the qualifying without having worked on the set-up and without knowing which tyres to use as we didn't run enough on a dry track. We managed to get a better set-up for the second part of the session but unfortunately the yellow flag came out. But I believe we can have a good result on Sunday. Anything is possible; we should be quicker than today we just have to work hard on the set-up. We also need something positive for the team."
Craig Pollock, Managing Director, British American Racing "The weekend has started very very badly for us. Obviously we are very happy that Ricardo's injuries are not as bad as we thought. It appears that the car has not reacted very well on a bumpy circuit which could be one of the causes for Ricardo's accident. We are very disappointed and we can see that how difficult Sunday is going to be for us but we will do the best we can for Jacques and for the team."