Australian GP Jordan preview

BENSON AND HEDGES TOTAL JORDAN PEUGEOT AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX PREVIEW The circus of Formula One car launches and the game of drivers' musical chairs is over; the racing season now begins. As three...

BENSON AND HEDGES TOTAL JORDAN PEUGEOT AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX PREVIEW The circus of Formula One car launches and the game of drivers' musical chairs is over; the racing season now begins. As three Jordan-Peugeot 197's and 15,500 kilos of spare parts make their way by cargo to Australia, the Benson and Hedges Jordan-Peugeot team is making its final preparation for the journey down under to begin the challenge for the Formula One World Championship. The Australian Grand Prix, to take place for the second consecutive year at Melbourne's Albert Park, will mark the start of Jordan's seventh season in Formula One. Increased investment in the team brought about by the 1997 Benson and Hedges sponsorship package has led to the upgrading of the factory facilities (including development of a wind tunnel) and a 50 per cent growth in personnel, all of which puts the team in a bullish mood for the start of the new season. With the season's two youngest drivers eager to join the "big boys" of Formula One, the team has a real hunger for victo- ry. Technical Director, Gary Anderson, explains some of the background to the Australian Grand Prix: "The Albert Park track is one of the longest Grand Prix circuits, but because it is not used throughout the year for motorsports, it does not have the grip level of other racing tracks, which can cause the drivers some difficulties. "When the teams arrive for free practice on Friday (March 7th), the track is usually dirty and slippery and it is easy for the drivers to end up in the gravel on the first runs. The trick is to use the Friday session to carefully learn the circuit and not react to the fact the track is slippery. The clever teams are the ones who resist the temptation to make the car good during the Friday session, because if you adjust the set-up then, you may be doing so in the wrong direction. "We will be telling Schumacher and Fisichella that Friday is a session to make sure they are content and familiar with the track, and it is only worth setting a good time in the last five laps; Saturday is the day to work on the set-up. "Fisichella is at a slight advantage as he has raced here before, but good drivers make competitive times on a new track after about 10 laps, so it will not take Ralf long to feel com- fortable. "A driver's ability to adapt to a new track can be more important than his racing experience as demonstrated last year when the track was new to all the drivers, yet it was Villeneuve competing in his first Grand Prix, who made pole position. "Track temperatures can be very high in Melbourne so it will be interesting to see how the tyres compare. For qualifying, the lack of a fast corner where you can make up times means it is important to complete a whole lap without mistakes. "I think the qualifying session will be frustrating as all the teams will be waiting for the other teams to go out before them to clean the track. Most of the activity will probably happen in the last quarter of the session." In the weeks following the launch of the Jordan-Peugeot 197 on January 30th, Schumacher and Fisichella have followed an intensive test schedule in Jerez (February 7th to 10th) and Estoril (February 14th to 19th). The final shakedown took place on Wednesday Feb 26th when the third chassis (which will become Schumacher's race chassis) was run for the first time without any problems. Feedback from the drivers has been extremely positive; they have both expressed their excitement at driving what they and the team believe is a very competitive car. Ralf Schumacher explained: "The Jordan team and I feel very prepared for our first race, and of course I am very excited about competing in my first Grand Prix. The testing has gone very well and now I just want to do a good job for myself, the team and the sponsors." Giancarlo Fisichella added: "Melbourne is where I made my Grand Prix debut last year and I am so happy to return here to race for Jordan. Getting a contract with the Benson and Hedges Jordan team is the best thing that could have happened to me and I want to take advantage of it. I am really looking forward to the race.

Estragon

* 1st 2.00 #8604 * Sq Root of two: 1.41421356 ... More digits, anyone! :-)

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Ralf Schumacher , Gary Anderson
Teams Jordan