The first race of the 2004 Formula One season got underway today at Albert Park (Melbourne) with Mark Webber starting from 6th on the grid at his home race and rookie Christian Klien in 19th. Both cars got off to a clean start and the pace of the...
The first race of the 2004 Formula One season got underway today at Albert Park (Melbourne) with Mark Webber starting from 6th on the grid at his home race and rookie Christian Klien in 19th. Both cars got off to a clean start and the pace of the Jaguar R5 became evident as Mark raced in 8th position closing the gap between him and the BMW-Williams of Montoya down to 2 seconds.
Unfortunately Mark lost 6th gear on lap 27 and 7th gear shortly afterwards. His lap times slowed and the decision was taken to retire. Christian drove a determined race from the back and finished a competitive 11th in his first race. The team now go to Malaysia confident that they have a good racing package in the R5 and with two determined drivers.
Of course I am disappointed not to have finished today at my home race but these things happen and you have to take the rough times with the smooth. The boys did an excellent job in preparing the car for me and it was clear that we were competitive out there as I settled into 8th position and kept on Montoya's tail. The balance of the car was good and to have lost 6th and 7th gears is frustrating since we have not had this problem before given that we have completed over 6000km of testing.
At a race where we are at 65% throttle I could not continue with only five gears and we had no choice but to retire. The R5 has been good all weekend and I am pleased with the progress that we have made versus last year. I posted some good aggressive laps out there and there is more to come from us, roll on Malaysia.
To have finished my first Grand Prix race in 11th position is fantastic. I was frustrated at first to be starting in 19th position, however, it actually allowed me to work my way up a few places and build my confidence. My start was slightly slower than I had hoped but the track was really grippy. I managed to stay out of trouble and when I saw the opportunity to overtake the Toyota of Oliver Panis I took it.
I am really pleased with the balance and set-up of the car, Cosworth and Michelin have done a great job and my mechanics prepared the car really well. It 's good to have these laps under my belt now as I head to Malaysia for the second race. I will be working hard on my fitness between now and then in order to be as prepared as I can be for the extreme heat that I have been warned about.
Dr Mark Gillan - Head of Vehicle Performance:
It's been a good weekend for us overall but we are of course disappointed not to have had Mark finish his home race. The R5 had been reliable all weekend and we had completed 6000km in testing with 2000km of these being in the last two weeks. The loss of gears that Mark experienced is not something that we have had before so we will be working hard during the next two weeks to ensure that we understand this.
Christian has done a good job over the last three days and to see him finish 11th in his first race is very encouraging for us. He has enjoyed good balance and set-up and despite starting at the back of the grid delivered a strong race. Completing the race distance is very important for him at this early stage in the season and again his pace over the course of the race was consistent. We now look ahead to our next race in Malaysia confident that we have a package that we understand and one that is clearly competitive versus the rest of the grid.
Best time: 1:25.952
Chassis: R5- 03
Best time: 1:27.840
Chassis: R5- 01