Australian GP: Jaguar preview

With over 7500 kilometres of winter testing completed on the Jaguar R4 since 21st January, the team arrives in Melbourne this week to contest the opening round of the 2003 FIA Formula One World Championship. Jaguar Racing new drivers, Australian...

With over 7500 kilometres of winter testing completed on the Jaguar R4 since 21st January, the team arrives in Melbourne this week to contest the opening round of the 2003 FIA Formula One World Championship. Jaguar Racing new drivers, Australian Mark Webber (26) and Brazilian Antonio Pizzonia (22), will be the first to hit the Albert Park track on Friday morning as part of the new two-hour testing format prior to the traditional Free Practice session which follows immediately after.

For Mark, the excitement of his first ever race for Jaguar will be complimented by the home support of his local fans while for Antonio, the excitement will be just as great as he prepares for his first ever Formula One race since joining the team from BMW WilliamsF1 where he was test driver last year. The all-new Cosworth CR5-V10 engine -- a revolutionary design that boasts a 90-degree vee angle, will power the 2003 Jaguar R4 and in addition to the work undertaken with its partner, Michelin, the team is looking forward to the race weekend, albeit with a fair degree of uncertainty given the significant rule changes to the sport's format.

David Pitchforth - Managing Director:

"The team has been working tirelessly in preparation for the season's opening race. Two hours of testing on a Friday will provide the drivers and team with a better understanding of track conditions and subsequently, a better understanding of our set-up options for the weekend ahead. Because Antonio is unfamiliar with many of the race tracks on the calendar, the decision to opt for the two-hour Friday testing should prove invaluable for his familiarity. During this time, we will also be working very closely indeed with our partner Michelin in an effort to fully understand the potential of the tyres."

"Probably the most unpredictable and in some ways the most nerve-racking part of the weekend is the one-lap qualifying rule. This will put tremendous pressure on everyone and none more so than the drivers. One mistake will literally make or break the weekend but the excitement factor will be something for everyone to really savour, I'm sure. Melbourne will also mark the race debut of our all-new Cosworth CR5-V10 engine. Cosworth Racing have pushed very hard on development over the winter but we have yet to race the engine in anger -- something I know both Antonio and Mark are very much looking forward to."

"The winter testing tells us very little about the competition we face and until we begin racing on Sunday afternoon, it is impossible to make any predictions about our performance. We still have issues and gremlins to address on the car and while we are reasonably pleased with our progress thus far, we are far from completely satisfied."

Antonio Pizzonia:

"I haven't been here long but I am thoroughly enjoying my time with Jaguar Racing. It's been a long, hard and rewarding winter testing schedule and while you always wish you had more preparation time, the fact is that we have made some good progress, albeit with quite some way to go. Your first race with a new team at a new circuit is always going to give you some butterflies, but you use it to totally focus the mind. I will of course be taking advantage of the team's experience and working closely with Mark will also be very beneficial for me. Mark knows this circuit quite well and his performance here last year was exemplary."

"The two-hour Friday morning testing format will help accelerate my knowledge of the circuit and the need to maximise upon this cannot be overstated given the one-lap qualifying session. Because teams have to start the race on the same fuel load they end qualifying with, it will be very hard to judge the true competitiveness of those around us until the race kicks in. Excitement is something I don't think we'll be short of and combined with the great support Jaguar has in Australia, I can't wait to take to the track. Before arriving in Melbourne, we are spending a few days in Sydney undertaking press and PR work for Jaguar and our partners HSBC and Beck's."

"Having never been to Australia before, I must say that I'm very impressed with the culture, colour and vibrancy of the place. The people are very welcoming and having bumped into quite a few race fans already, the enthusiasm towards their home race is very clear indeed and we will be doing our best to put on a good show for Jaguar and all Formula One fans alike."

Mark Webber:

"With a new team, new car, new rules and home support, it is difficult to explain my excitement going into the 2003 Australian Grand Prix. I arrived back into Australia last Friday after completing a test session at Silverstone (UK) and was whisked straight off to the Melbourne motorshow where Antonio and I unveiled the all-new Jaguar XJR to the local media. From there, I went back home to Queanbeyan for a few days and arrived in Sydney today for what will inevitably be a very busy few days undertaking sponsor and PR engagements. From Thursday, however, our minds will be firmly focused on Albert Park."

"Many weeks of testing and development work will be put to the test and our first impressions will be generated on Friday morning from the two-hour testing opportunity. We will use these two-hours to work on set-up, balance, tyres and understanding fully the track conditions around Albert Park -- weather permitting, of course! Given the somewhat unpredictable variables that have been generated by the new rules, it will be impossible to predict the potential of our competitors and having the two extra hours under our belt will hopefully strengthen our preparation going into race day."

"The weather in Melbourne hasn't been anywhere near as hot as in previous years and changes in the climate will make a significant impact on everyone's performance. All in all, my home race promises to be exiting and given the home support around me, I will be aiming to put on the best show I can for both my team and those fans that helped carry me to fifth place last year."

-jaguar-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Antonio Pizzonia , Mark Webber
Teams Williams , Jaguar Racing