Australian GP: Jaguar driver preview

Jaguar Racing this week departs for Melbourne (Australia) to contest the opening round of the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship. Since the launch of the Jaguar R5 on January 18th in Barcelona (Spain) drivers Mark Webber and Christian Klien...

Jaguar Racing this week departs for Melbourne (Australia) to contest the opening round of the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship. Since the launch of the Jaguar R5 on January 18th in Barcelona (Spain) drivers Mark Webber and Christian Klien have been working hard with the team, focusing on the new package and getting to grip with the new rules and regulations in preparation for the season ahead.

Since the launch, the team has generated over 8,000km of testing. Mark's home race in Albert Park will no doubt prove to be one of the busiest for him on and off the track while fellow rookies Christian and test driver Bjorn Wirdheim will focus their time and energy on learning about their new roles and responsibilities over a race weekend.

Mark Webber:

"The winter testing season has been very productive for us and we have learnt a lot about the Jaguar R5. The balance and handling are very good and I am extremely happy with the progress that we have made on this car. Our goal this season is to implement and demonstrate continuous improvement of the car. I've never been closer to the team and we're working very hard together to get the best out of the car in the early part of the season.

Reliability is going to be crucial in Melbourne, it's a tough race and with the one-engine rule, reliability will be key. The team in Milton Keynes and at our sister companies, Cosworth Racing and Pi Research have been working relentlessly to ensure progress at all levels. I am excited about getting back out on track and racing the car in anger. Melbourne is of course a special race for me, and in terms of atmosphere you can't beat it, however, this does make my off-track activities a bit hectic.

The fans are fantastic though and over the course of the next couple of weeks I will be participating in many events that will allow me to get out and about to see them. I will be arriving in Sydney this week to participate in sponsor and media activities before making my way to Albert Park. There is no doubt that this is going to be a fantastic few days!"

Christian Klien:

"I am incredibly excited about the race and can't really describe the mixed emotions that I feel. I am enjoying my time with the team and I am pleased with the progress that I have made with them, both on a personal and technical level. Many people are talking about the new rules, although since everything is new to me it will make little difference. The testing period has been invaluable to me particularly from the perspective of understanding the tyre performance and limits.

In addition, I have been surprised at the level of constant input the engineers make into the car while testing - this was a real education for me! Testing has also been vital from a simulation viewpoint. I have simulated long runs, qualifying runs, race starts and using full manual gear changes in preparation for this season. The learning curve has been vertical in many respects and will continue to be so for most of the season given how few tracks I know. Of all the eighteen circuits on the F1 calendar, I have only raced on seven.

Friday mornings at race weekends will be especially important for familiarisation purposes and while computer games help a little, there is obviously no substitute for the real thing. A week from now, the 'real thing' will present itself and after so many years of working towards this goal, I cannot wait to start racing."

Björn Wirdheim:

"Although I have only just joined the team last week, I feel as if I have been here a lot longer. I have really settled in well and I am fortunate that there is a really good group of guys at work here. I participated in a shakedown at Silverstone this week with Mark Webber. We generated nearly 400km of mileage with the one R5 we were shaking down.

Looking ahead to Melbourne I am enthusiastic about driving on a Friday and I will certainly be doing what I can to learn from the team over the weekend so that I can start being a valuable backbone of information and feedback for both Mark, Christian and the team. My synergy with and understanding of all things Michelin will be crucial towards supporting the Friday test programme and given that I have raced on twelve out of the eighteen circuits, I am confident of generating the desired level of technical feedback."


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Mark Webber , Bjorn Wirdheim , Christian Klien
Teams Jaguar Racing