For Pedro de la Rosa and the Jaguar Racing team, Saturday's qualifying session for the Australian Grand prix could have gone better - but not by much according to the Spaniard.
A combination of poor handling and grisly weather conditions hampered both drivers as Pedro told our man Adam Cooper after the session.
Q: Is this what you expected, or could you have done better with four proper runs?
“Yeah, it should have been a little bit better, but not much better. For me the most disappointing thing is not being 20th– I don’t care about that– it’s just that we lack speed. That’s basically the bottom line. We made some mistakes. I went out with the T-car, and I went out a little bit too late, but the bottom line is that we need to develop the car because we are a little bit too slow.”
Q: What’s the main problem?
“Well, I think the basic problem of the car is lack of rear grip, especially under braking we seem to have lots of problems in stopping the car, and the rear is moving a lot. We need a little bit in every area, but the main thing is the rear end is a little loose.”
Q: Eddie says that it’s hard to know what to improve when a car feels good but is slow…
“Yes. When a car feels too good, it means it doesn’t have enough grip. We need more rear grip, and then you start having understeer problems and working the front tyres harder. When the rear is so stable you have to work with the front flap and making the front grippier. We have other mechanical problems that are showing up, and hopefully we have some modifications for Malaysia. But for tomorrow, we have nothing.”
Q: Why did you use the T-car?
“Yesterday the race car was feeling alright. They changed the gearbox, and this morning there was some mechanical issue in the rear end where the car was not right. It wasn’t ready in time for qualifying because they changed the engine. I was lucky because I jumped into the T-car when it was dry, and I could feel that it was much better, and then I went in the wet again with my race car and the problems were still there.”
Eddie Irvine knew that Australia was going to be a tough weekend for the Jaguar Racing team, but even so 19th place on the grid came as a big disappointment for the Ulsterman. It represented the lowest qualifying placing of his career to date.
Matters were not helped by the rain that effectively curtailed the session and restricted Eddie to one proper run, the Jaguars having both gone out relatively late. While everyone else was also affected by the conditions, a problem with the brake balance on that run handicapped Eddie.
“I obviously only got one lap, and it wasn’t a good lap. But we could only have been half a second faster, or maybe a little bit more. To be honest it’s not very acceptable.
“My brake balance moved massively rearwards from this morning to my qualifying lap, so I was struggling with the rear. I knew it was marginal before I went out, and once I started to attack I got a little bit loose in the first corner and a little bit loose in the second corner. So I started to go a little bit forward on the balance, but I didn’t go forward enough.”
Eddie admits that it’s not going to be easy to get some speed out of the R3.
“It doesn’t feel that bad, it’s just slow. That’s the worst situation to be in. Before this weekend the car felt really, really bad. We’ve just got to go back to square one and just start working again. We knew this was going to be the story, so it hasn’t come as a surprise at all.”