Stewart-Ford Australian GP Preview

Melbourne, Monday 1st March, 1999 Australian Grand Prix: Preview The team enters the first Grand Prix of the season full of optimism despite Johnny's high-speed accident on the final day of testing in Barcelona. Johnny has reported no ...

Melbourne, Monday 1st March, 1999

Australian Grand Prix: Preview

The team enters the first Grand Prix of the season full of optimism despite Johnny's high-speed accident on the final day of testing in Barcelona. Johnny has reported no after-effects and has been working hard on his fitness prior to the race weekend. Having identified the cause of the accident, the design and engineering staff have taken steps to rectify the problem. Rubens has been pounding the pavement back home in Sao Paulo in an effort to be in peak physical condition for Melbourne.

RUBENS BARRICHELLO Car No.16 (SF3-04)

'I like Melbourne very much, the city, the people and particularly the weather - it makes those 24 hours of flying worthwhile. I'm looking forward to the race because the circuit should suit the car. It doesn't have the usual characteristics of a road circuit, you have much more chance to drive the car to its full potential. There is a noticeable improvement in this year's car from the point of view of driveability. It has good traction which will help in the slow corners and impressive stability under braking. All the set-up changes we have made during testing have had an effect on the car's behaviour which is very encouraging. It means we have a chassis we know we can work with and we have found more straight line speed with the new engine. I'm confident that what we have learned from our winter testing will give us a solid chance of being competitive in the race.'

JOHNNY HERBERT Car No.17 (SF3-03)

'I don't remember a lot about the shunt in Barcelona but I'm glad the car stood up so well to the impact. I'm very optimistic about Melbourne and the season in general. The car has a good feel to it and the new Ford engine has given us more top end power. Having driven the SF2 in testing at the end of last year, there is no doubt that this year's package is a big step forward. Obviously we are still learning about the car and our testing has shown that there is potential for improvement in the early part of the season. Melbourne is not the most demanding circuit in the world. You have to be able to ride the bumps well and the SF3 has proven in testing that it can do that. The style of the corners should suit the car's handling ability. I'm confident that the team can have its best ever start to the season given the shape we are in.'

GARY ANDERSON, SGP Technical Director

'We are all encouraged with the performance of the car in winter testing. Rubens produced a time of 1:21.1 on the final day in Barcelona which gives us a bit of momentum going into Melbourne. The times we have been doing in testing given the fuel loads we have been running are impressive. We weren't able to complete our full testing programme in Barcelona because of Johnny's accident but I believe there's still quite a lot of time left in the car. We'll be working hard to get the maximum out of the chassis and engine package from Friday onwards. We have some aerodynamic and suspension modifications to come and all the simulations we have carried out of those bits and pieces point to improved performance. Melbourne tends to be a bit dirty early on but improves as the weekend goes along. I think we can be reasonably competitive and there's no reason why we cannot target points from the race.'

PAUL STEWART, SGP Deputy Chairman

'There is no doubt we are better prepared for 1999 than we have ever been in the past. Our readiness is what you would expect from a team that has been in the business for over a decade rather than a new outfit entering its third year in Formula One. A tremendous amount of hard work by everyone at Stewart Grand Prix and Cosworth Racing has enabled this to happen. Attracting Gary Anderson to the team, bringing in David Ring as Managing Director and having Neil Ressler join the board of SGP are all key components of a strategy designed to strengthen the company and improve our competitiveness in 1999 and beyond. Johnny's accident in Barcelona has caused minimum disruption to our collective effort. To write off a chassis, gearbox and a number of components before the season is a big blow to any team. But we have been able to absorb that blow and we are approaching the race in Melbourne with confidence. We are still sending three complete cars and a host of spares to Australia. Nothing will make me more proud of our preparations than a good result in Melbourne. It would be a fitting reward for the tireless efforts of every member of the team.'

MARTIN WHITAKER, Director, Ford Racing, Europe

'The 1999 Australian Grand Prix sees the race debut of the Ford-Cosworth CR-1 engine, the SF3, and new Stewart-Ford driver Johnny Herbert. It also marks a significant anniversary for the new Ford-Cosworth CR-1 because it was at a meeting at the Melbourne circuit last year that senior Ford executives and Cosworth Racing personnel agreed to proceed with a new engine for 1999. After many late nights, the brand new engine ran for the first time on December 18th and since then, everyone at Ford, Cosworth Racing, Visteon and Stewart Grand Prix have been working hard trying to get through the development test programme prior to 1999 Australian Grand Prix. In addition to the new car and engine, we also have a new driver for 1999 in Johnny Herbert. New may not be the right word because Johnny has raced with Ford several times through his long Formula One career. We all hope 1999 can be his most successful year to date. This year is going to be important for everyone at Stewart-Ford. There is no doubt we have all learnt a lot from the past two years and although I'm sure there are tough times ahead, we are confident we will be much nearer the right end of the grid. Both Johnny and Rubens are very motivated - especially after our pace in recent testing where the new combination of the SF3 and the Ford Cosworth CR-1 has already demonstrated a significant improvement from last year.'

NICK HAYES, Formula One Programme Director, Cosworth Racing

'The Ford-Cosworth CR-1 represents a big step forward on several fronts. Firstly, the performance is significantly ahead of last year's engine with gains throughout the rev range, but particularly at peak power. Secondly, and probably even more significantly for the car, the weight, size and height of the engine have been reduced dramatically to a point where it is one of the - if not the - lightest, smallest and lowest engines in Formula One. This gives much more freedom in the design of the car and also allows the centre of gravity to be reduced to an absolute minimum - a property vital for good mechanical grip in corners.'

FAST FACTS - ALBERT PARK Pit Stop Strategy: 2 stops Highest Engine Revs: 17150 Amount of downforce: High Overtaking possibilities: Entering Turn 3 Average no of gear changes per lap: 54 Top Speed: 304 km per hour Typical Fuel Consumption: 2.56kg/lap - 150kg/race Best Viewing Position: Turn 4 Hospitality Suite

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Johnny Herbert , Gary Anderson
Teams Stewart Grand Prix