Australian Grand Prix Qualifying Melbourne, March 6 1999 Expectations are high in the camp of British American Racing at the Australian Grand Prix after the team's first-ever qualifying session for a Formula One race. Jacques Villeneuve and...
Australian Grand Prix Qualifying Melbourne, March 6 1999 Expectations are high in the camp of British American Racing at the Australian Grand Prix after the team's first-ever qualifying session for a Formula One race. Jacques Villeneuve and Ricardo Zonta qualified 11th and 19th respectively Saturday despite difficulties with both of their British American Racing Supertec 01 machines.
With his team making last-minute adjustments to the car, Villeneuve had to await the second half of the hour-long qualifying session before taking his car out onto the track. He managed an excellent lap time of one minute, 32.888 seconds, which put him in third position for a short time, but a spin and heavy traffic during his other runs hampered his efforts and the Canadian finished mid-grid as other drivers bested that time. His time is 2.426 seconds off Mika Hakkinen's pole-sitting pace.
Zonta stopped during the first practice session this morning, having only completed three laps before suffering the same gearbox problems that had prematurely ended his practice the previous day. Sitting out the second session, his engineers and mechanics worked frantically to ensure a reliable drive for the qualifying session that followed. He turned in a respectable 1:34.412 under the circumstances.
JACQUES VILLENEUVE -- 11th 1:32.888 "It's a bit disappointing and frustrating to be in the middle of the grid as we know we have the car to be in the top six. It was a difficult session today. The first run went well but I made a mistake on the second and went off the track. On the third run I found some traffic and then ran out of time. Now we have to work even harder to find the reliability we need for Sunday's race. But it should be a good battle to try and finish in points."
RICARDO ZONTA -- 19th 1:34:412 "After having many problems with the car this morning, I have had to learn the circuit during qualifying. We made some improvements to the car for qualifying, but I think if we had more laps the car set-up and my lap time could have been improved. The last lap I started to pick up speed, but someone spun ahead of me and the yellow flag went up, so I had to slow down."
CRAIG POLLOCK, Managing Director, British American Racing "We are delighted to have both cars in the race. Ricardo did an outstanding job, having only been able to complete three laps earlier today. He has shown that he has the makings of a top driver. I think Jacques also had a commendable drive, but we had a communications failure, which made him lose his last lap and a chance to be a few places higher on the grid. I am somewhat disappointed with our final position, but overall I'm satisfied with the car. Given all the problems we've endured this weekend and building up towards qualifying, everybody in the team worked soundly and solidly together and managed to get both cars out in time. At one stage we didn't think it was going to be that way. Everyone did an exceptional job."