British Grand Prix: Preview The Stewart-Ford team completed four days of testing at Silverstone last week. Rubens ended the test second fastest overall to McLaren's Mika Hakkinen. The team carried out a programme of tyre evaluation and ...
British Grand Prix: Preview The Stewart-Ford team completed four days of testing at Silverstone last week. Rubens ended the test second fastest overall to McLaren's Mika Hakkinen. The team carried out a programme of tyre evaluation and staged several simulation runs in an effort to find the optimum race set-up for the weekend. Inclement weather meant that the team was able to run the cars in wet and dry trim over the four days. Johnny will take time out on Friday morning for a spot of surfing for the live launch of the official Stewart-Ford web site (www.stewart-ford.com) Silverstone was the scene of Johnny's first Formula One race victory in the British Grand Prix of 1995. He was also fourth in 1993. Rubens' highest placing was fourth in 1994 and 1996.
RUBENS BARRICHELLO Car No.16 (SF3-04) Your performance in last week's Silverstone test was impressive. Can you translate that into a successful race? 'I don't necessarily think that I can expect to be first or second on the grid at Silverstone based on last week's test because there was a lot of evaluation going on among the teams including ours. However, the test confirmed that the car is faster than it has been during the last couple of races. What encouraged me most was the pace I was able to maintain during a 20-lap run. The aerodynamic modifications we tested gave us better performance in the high speed sections of the circuit and we have improved the car's braking and traction.'
What qualities does the circuit demand from car and driver? 'Silverstone is a circuit where you're forever playing with the set-up. It's unlikely that we will stick with the same set-up for the whole weekend. The wind can affect the handling characteristics of the car because the circuit is so exposed. As a driver you have to be really committed into the fast corners like Copse and Becketts because you have to get in and out of the corner quickly so you can carry your speed onto the straights that follow. Most people automatically assume that I know more about Interlagos than any other circuit but in fact I know more about Silverstone because I have driven in junior formulae in Britain for so long including Formula 3. I must have driven 160,000 KM round Silverstone!'
JOHNNY HERBERT Car No.17 (SF3-05) How much will 'home advantage' mean for you this weekend? 'The support for the British drivers from the fans is tremendous. You know that when you walk through the gate on Friday morning that all the screams and shouts are aimed in your direction. I always approach the weekend in a very positive mood because the race has a special feeling. I don't necessarily feel any extra pressure. It's natural to want to do well at your home Grand Prix, but we all want to do well in every race we contest - that's what we're paid to do.'
What was the most abiding memory of your Silverstone victory in 1995? 'During the last few laps I thought about how hard the recovery period had been after my accident in 1988 and about the wonderful support I had received from my wife and family. I was looking at all the British flags waving and hoping that nothing was going to fall off or break on the car. When I came across the line to the chequered flag, I felt a tremendous sense of relief that I had finally won a Grand Prix. To do at home, in front of my home fans, was extra special.'
PAUL STEWART, SGP Deputy Chairman 'The aerodynamic and mechanical modifications we ran during last week's test proved very successful. The last two years at Silverstone have not been kind to the Stewart-Ford team, but we are in much better shape this year for a strong assault on our home Grand Prix. Silverstone is a vitally important race for us - we have a major hospitality programme in place over the weekend and we hope to be able to give our guests something to really cheer about come Sunday.'
MARTIN WHITAKER, Director, Ford Racing, Europe 'Both Rubens and Johnny set competitive times throughout the four day test at Silverstone last week during which we got through a lot of work on the engine in readiness for the next upgrade and further honed the driveability. Over the four days we ran over 2500km and experienced no major problems.'