Argentine GP Jordan preview

JORDAN-PEUGEOT PREPARES FOR BUENOS AIRES (1) The Benson and Hedges Total Jordan Peugeot team showed a lot of potential at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Both Rubens Barrichello and Martin Brundle qualified in the top six, with...

JORDAN-PEUGEOT PREPARES FOR BUENOS AIRES (1) The Benson and Hedges Total Jordan Peugeot team showed a lot of potential at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Both Rubens Barrichello and Martin Brundle qualified in the top six, with Rubens starting his home event from the front row of the grid. He went on to provide the biggest thrills of the race as he battled, first with Jean Alesi's Benetton, and then with World Champion Michael Schumacher. Though the weekend was ultimately to end in frustra- tion for the team with both drivers spinning off the track, the pace of the Jordan-Peugeot cars was unmistakable. ``It's our aim to maintain competitiveness, not just at the race in Argentina, but throughout the remainder of the season,'' team owner Eddie Jordan said. ``We are pitching ourselves against the acknowledged teams. Now that Benson and Hedges have come on board, we have been able to institute a pretty extensive expan- sion program back at Silverstone to help meet that challenge. However, we recognize that we have to spend our new found spon- sorship monies wisely and a number of projects we currently have in mind will take a while to come on stream. The benefit of an extended test program on the other hand, is something we can take advantage of almost immediately.'' Jordan introduced a new element into that program in Brazil when he announced Gianni Morbidelli as official reserve and test driver for the team. The 28-year old Italian has competed in F1 for five years with Minardi and Arrows and was also official test driver with Ferrari for three years. ``The circumstances are very different now to when I was test driver with Ferrari,'' Morbidelli said. ``I was new to F1 then; I had just started racing for Minardi and, to test for Ferrari at the same time gave me a good opportunity to get some extra experience and get a feeling for the cars. Now I have more maturity and experience to offer to a team. I can give the engi- neers much more information, and I can give it to them faster.'' His new boss agrees: ``That was one of the considerations we took into account when choosing our test driver,'' Jordan said. ``We are barely six years old and by virtue of our youth we just don't have the same experience as the teams we are pitted against. ``Gianni has an established F1 record and a good technical knowledge gleaned through working with a number of different teams and engine manufacturers. On the other hand, Jordan has traditionally encouraged new drivers. That has been the case throughout our history, and its a tradition we don't want to lose sight of now. We have therefore created another position for a test driver, which Fabrizio de Simone will take on this year. This additional position is specifically aimed at nurturing new talent, and hopefully discovering new champions.'' In addition to his testing duties, Morbidelli has another role to fulfill with the team, that of official reserve driver. ``A new regulation was introduced this year which allows the team to introduce a reserve driver in certain circumstances during the course of the race meeting, if one of the regular drivers is incapacitated,'' Jordan explained. ``It is therefore vitally important that, at very short notice you can call up a driver who is familiar both with the car and the team; somebody who can just slot straight in, because with only one session counting for grid positions, he has to be up to speed straight away. ``The reserve driver must be able to qualify and race com- petitively and be able to communicate with all the engineers - both Jordan and Peugeot. The only way to get a driver into that position is for him to be an integral part of the team, which comes through quality time spent in the car at tests. It's also important that your reserve driver has F1 experience and knows how everything works at a race meeting.'' While Morbidelli realizes the additional role of reserve driver, his mind is firmly concentrated on his testing work. ``Of course I don't want either of the drivers to have a problem, but I would love to race and if there is an opportunity, I'm ready to race,'' he said. ``At the moment though, I have to concentrate first of all on doing some good testing, building a good rela- tionship with the team and giving them all the information that I can to help the team and to help Rubens and Martin. ``For sure I think about the future as well,'' he adds. ``If I do a good job, and the team get a good impression from me, then maybe it will be possible for me to be here in the future as a proper driver. This is not something that will definitely happen, but for sure it is what I would like to happen. The most gratifi- cation you can have as a professional driver is to drive in the race. In the race, you can make a comparison with other drivers and you have the possibility to get results and make some progress with your career. But if I try my hardest and do a good job as a test driver, then I will still get some gratification because that is a very important thing no matter what job you do. ``I cannot cry about the past and say: `in November I was in F1 and finished third in Australia and now I'm not racing in F1 anymore,' I have to think very positively and look to the future. I am here at Jordan because I think this is the best thing I can do for my future.'' Before he embarks on the testing program, Gianni will be watching closely to see how his new team gets on at the next race, the Argentine Grand Prix, at Buenos Aires on Easter Sunday. Martin Brundle has never raced at the Autodromo Oscar A. Galvez before. Rubens Barrichello, on the other hand looks upon this as another `home' race. ``Argentina is quite similar to Brazil, so this is almost like a Grand Prix at home for me. It's a nice track, medium speed on the whole but with a few tight corners too,'' The team will be running a modified aerodynamic package in Argentina to suit the track conditions. ``I said after the Bra- zilian race that I know now we can definitely win a Grand Prix this year,'' Barrichello said. ``I don't know whether that will happen in Argentina, but I hope that we can be as competitive as we were at the last race, but come away with a bit more to show this time.''

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Rubens Barrichello , Eddie Jordan , Martin Brundle , Fabrizio de Simone , Gianni Morbidelli
Teams Ferrari , Benetton , Minardi , Jordan