West McLaren-Mercedes driver David Coulthard is ready to race in the Spanish Grand Prix on May 7 and is hoping to score his second consecutive Grand Prix victory of the season after walking away from an aircraft crash May 2. Coulthard, his...
West McLaren-Mercedes driver David Coulthard is ready to race in the Spanish Grand Prix on May 7 and is hoping to score his second consecutive Grand Prix victory of the season after walking away from an aircraft crash May 2. Coulthard, his fiancee, American Heidi Wichlinski, and his trainer, Andy Matthews, all survived the accident in which both pilots of their private jet died. The pilots tried to make an emergency landing at the Lyon airport in France after the jet developed engine problems on the flight from England to Nice, France. After arriving at the Barcelona circuit May 4, Coulthard made a statement about the accident and asked that the media allow him to concentrate on the race. "Heidi, Andy and I recognize that this accident, as with all accidents, is a matter of interest to the media and the public," Coulthard said. "However, I would ask you all our respect our privacy this weekend, particularly Heidi's and Andy's. While we appreciate that you, like me, have a job to do, by the same token you will also understand that my professional obligation is to concentrate on the job I have to do and focus on the world championship." After winning the British Grand Prix two weeks ago, Coulthard now has 14 points and lies second in the Formula One World Championship behind Michael Schumacher. With three victories and a third place in his Ferrari this season, Schumacher leads the championship with 34 points. All 11 F1 teams tested at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya last week. Schumacher set the fastest lap time in that test, and that has left the Ferrari driver confident for more success this weekend. "After last week's test here, I believe that we have a good package and a good car," Schumacher said. "As usual, our aim is to win this race, and we should have the capability to do so as long as we make the most of our opportunities." Schumacher won the first three races of the season and then finished third behind West McLaren-Mercedes drivers Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. "We cannot afford any slip-ups," Schumacher said. "We have to work better than we did at Silverstone. That applies to the whole team, myself included. My intention is to leave Spain with another 10 points toward our championship hopes." Coulthard and reigning World Champion Hakkinen also hope to leave Spain with the 10 points that come with a Grand Prix victory. Three-time World Champion Jackie Stewart said that Coulthard's recent harrowing experience would not affect his racing performance. "Racing drivers are able compartmentalize things," Stewart said. "The accident will not affect David." Coulthard said his thoughts were with the families of the pilots. "I wish to express our heartfelt sympathies to the families of the two pilots, David Saunders and Dan Worley, who behaved with the utmost professionalism throughout the incident," he said. "During the flight the copilot informed us that we had an engine problem and would have to make an emergency landing at Lyon, which would be in about 10 minutes' time. Prior to landing, we had time to prepare ourselves in the 'brace' position. "On impact, a wing tank ruptured and there was a fire on the right side of the aircraft. When the plane finally came to rest, the front of the cockpit had broken free from the main fuselage. At this point we established that the only way out was through the front of the aircraft. Andy led the way through the debris, and as this part of the aircraft was 3 or 4 feet above the ground, I followed Andy out so that we could help Heidi get down. "Once we were all clear of the plane, I returned to see whether there was anything I could do for the pilots. But there was nothing to be done. "In less than one minute, the emergency services arrived and took over. I would like to express our thanks to the French emergency services, and to the airport authorities, for their professional and swift response." Fellow F1 driver Ralf Schumacher was among the many to offer his support to Coulthard. "As a friend of his," Ralf Schumacher said, "I was obviously surprised (by the accident). As soon as I heard what had happened, I rang Mercedes to see what had happened, and I heard he was all right. So next day he was in his apartment, and I visited him."
FORMULA ONE NOTEBOOK
Where to watch: Television viewers in the U.S. can watch the Spanish Grand Prix live on Speedvision at 7:30 a.m. (EDT) May 7. Fox Sports Net will air the race tape delayed at 10 a.m. in all time zones May 7. Check local listings. Speedvision will show qualifying live at 7 a.m. (EDT) on May 6.
Benetton hires Gascoyne: The Mild Seven Benetton Formula One team has signed Jordan's technical director, Mike Gascoyne, to a five-year contract that begins in July 2001. "Renault gave me the task to build the team that can win the world championship," Benetton's managing director Flavio Briatore said. "We have a good team here, but I need to add the best to make it strong. Mike falls into this category." Gascoyne will work alongside Benetton's current technical director Pat Symonds. "I have known and respected Mike for many years," Symonds said. "The signing is part of our long-term strategy to create a world championship-winning team." Gascoyne has worked for Jordan since July 1998. Prior to that he also worked at Tyrrell, McLaren and Sauber.
Close to home: Arrows driver Pedro de la Rosa, a Spanish native, lives in an apartment that is just a 13-minute drive from the Circuit de Catalunya.
Ressler new chief of Jaguar Racing: American Neil Ressler has been appointed the new chief executive officer of Jaguar Racing and will have direct responsibility for all the team activity.
"Until now I have been the chairman of Jaguar Racing," Ressler said, "but I didn't have an operating job. That was complicated by the fact that I had another job back in America as chief technical officer of Ford Motor Company. I had lots of things to do there. I was unable to spend the time with the team that I really wanted to spend.
"Following the news of Paul Stewart (being diagnosed with cancer) and the necessity for Paul to step down from his job as chief operating officer, we decided that I would end up delegating all of the day-to-day duties that I was following in America to two of my subordinates, Will Boddie and Bill Powers. I will devote myself full time as chief executive officer of the team."
Team founder Jackie Stewart will remain as an advisor to the team. Stewart, three-time World Champion and 1966 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, was an important part of Jaguar Racing, Ressler said.
"Jackie will remain on the board at my request," Ressler said. "I wanted and still want to have him onboard. He helps a lot with present and future sponsor relationships. He brings an enormous experience to our team that would not otherwise be there."
Ford, owner of Jaguar, has approved the funding needed for a new wind tunnel. It plans to find a site where Jaguar Racing, Cosworth Racing and the wind tunnel can all be located at the same place.
Three people have joined the board of Jaguar Racing: Dr. Wolfgang Reitzle, chairman of Jaguar Cars; Jonathan Browning, managing director of Jaguar Cars; and Richard Perry-Jones, Ford Motor Company vice president of global product development and quality.
Happy Ralf: Ralf Schumacher has finished in the points in three of the first four races, including a third place in the season opener, in the Williams fitted with the new BMW engine.
"When you've just moved to a new engine supplier, you cannot normally come to the first race expecting to finish in the points, and certainly not in third place," he said. "In the subsequent races we have been reliable -- at least with my car -- and we haven't had a problem. We are delighted."
Enjoying the pressure: Brazil's Rubens Barrichello says he enjoys the pressure that comes with driving for Ferrari and being teammates with two-time World Champion Michael Schumacher.
"People in Brazil thought I would suffer from the pressure," Barrichello said, "but for me it works the opposite way. When you have to perform in front of your own people, and you don't have the car to be competitive, that's pressure. When you do have the car, it seems more natural. I am having a much easier time ... maybe because of my seven years' experience. But it is less pressure than I had."
<pre> Spanish Grand Prix Fast Facts
Date: Sunday, May 7 Race: Fifth of 17 on 2000 schedule Venue: Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona Circuit length: 2.939 miles, 4.73 km Race length: 65 laps
On TV: Race (live) -- 7:30 a.m. (EDT) May 7, Speedvision. (Tape delay) -- 10 a.m. in all time zones May 7, FOX Sports Net. Check local listings. Qualifying (live) -- 7 a.m. (EDT) May 6, Speedvision
Points leader: Michael Schumacher, Ferrari 1999 race winner: Mika Hakkinen, West McLaren-Mercedes 1999 pole winner: Mika Hakkinen, West McLaren-Mercedes
Previous winners: 1998 -- Hakkinen, 1997 -- Jacques Villeneuve; 1996 -- M. Schumacher; 1995 -- M. Schumacher; 1994 -- Damon Hill, 1993 -- Alain Prost