After an encouraging outing at the Brazilian Grand Prix and a productive three-day test at Valencia, Niki Lauda heads for Imola in a confident frame of mind. "I was very encouraged by our improved form over the whole of the Brazilian Grand Prix...
After an encouraging outing at the Brazilian Grand Prix and a productive three-day test at Valencia, Niki Lauda heads for Imola in a confident frame of mind.
"I was very encouraged by our improved form over the whole of the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend," said the Jaguar Racing boss. "We understood the R3 better than we have done so far this season and our progress was rewarded with a good set-up that worked well at Interlagos. Combine this with a very good Michelin compound and it isn't hard to see why we climbed up the order relative to the opening two races of the season."
But if the bumpy, humid Interlagos circuit provided a stern test in terms of driver stamina, Lauda knows that Imola offers a different but equally demanding challenge.
"Imola will be tough. Not only might the cooler weather affect tyre performance, but the low downforce nature of this circuit makes for a bigger challenge than Brazil. We have made some good progress in recent weeks, but there isn't a significant new development on the Jaguar R3 for Imola."
Lauda expects bigger strides in development when testing in the new wind tunnel, opened in Bicester last week, begins in earnest. The state-of-the-art facility is expected to operate around 16 hours a day and represents a major step forward in practicality terms from the previous wind tunnel which was not owned by the team and located over 7,000 miles away in California. This, coupled with the arrival of Ben Agathangelou from Renault, could see Jaguar Racing improve towards the middle of the season.
"It will be a few weeks before we see a noticeable step forward in aero terms and in the meantime, we will continue to extract the best from the package we have," added Lauda. "Our wind tunnel is now operational and with Ben Agathangelou's impending arrival from Renault F1 in three weeks time (Jaguar Racing's new head of aerodynamics), there is a renewed optimism going into the European rounds."
"R3's reliability record speaks for itself and from the progress we made in Brazil, it's clear that there's a lot of untapped potential in this package. Our immediate aim, therefore, is to understand how we can extract more pace from the R3 and this is why the arrival of our own windtunnel is so critical towards achieving this goal quickly."