A1-Ring, Spielberg, Austria, July 25, 1999 - Mechanical failures once again plagued British American Racing today, bringing to naught race performances by Jacques Villeneuve and Ricardo Zonta that showed verve and promise during an exciting ...
A1-Ring, Spielberg, Austria, July 25, 1999 - Mechanical failures once again plagued British American Racing today, bringing to naught race performances by Jacques Villeneuve and Ricardo Zonta that showed verve and promise during an exciting Austrian Grand Prix. Jacques Villeneuve's race ended on lap 34 with a broken driveshaft, whilst Ricardo Zonta was forced to retire on lap 63 when his clutch failed. Until then, however, both drivers had acquitted themselves well on a dry track on a cool, overcast Sunday afternoon.
Ferrari's Eddie Irvine won his second Grand Prix race of the year, finishing ahead of the McLaren duo of David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen, who made a gift of the top spot in what was, at times, a spectacular race. Hakkinen was much the story of the Austrian Grand Prix as the Finnish pole-sitter weaved his way through the field with a vengeance after his team-mate ("my worst nightmare) clipped him on Turn Two of the first lap, sending him spinning off the track and into 20th place. Hakkinen's return to the podium was the story of the day, but Irvine's win (10 points) puts him just two points behind Hakkinen (four points) in the race for the overall Drivers' title.
Both British American Racing drivers showed well in the opening sprint, with Villeneuve jumping up to fifth by the second turn from his ninth place on the starting grid, and Zonta moving to ninth from 15th by the third lap. From that point on, Villeneuve was in the hunt for points, alternating between fifth and eighth place and on a one-stop strategy, before his car gave up the ghost on lap 34.
Zonta avoided several trouble spots and had moved up to ninth when his clutch went on lap 63. Both drivers and their pit crews will have little time to lick their wounds, as the FIA Formula One circus reunites at Hockenheim next Sunday for the German Grand Prix, the only time on the 1999 calendar where races are staged on consecutive weekends.
JACQUES VILLENEUVE - Retired - Lap 34 "I was pleased with my start and in the first part of the race there was a lot of action - I had a good battle with Ralf Schumacher (Williams) in the early laps. We knew that Pedro Diniz and Jean Alesi in the Saubers were on a two-stop strategy so I let them through early on - we were on one-stop and had decided to make it as late as possible. The car was easy to drive and things were looking good, until lap 34 when something in the driveshaft broke and I could only drive slowly back to the pits. We put in a lot of work and effort this weekend, and I feel sorry for the guys because they've been working so hard for no result so far."
RICARDO ZONTA - Retired - Lap 63 / Classified 15th "My first lap was very good - I was very close to Giancarlo Fisichella in the Benetton, and everything seemed to be fine. I started to get some oversteer on my first set of tyres, and this gradually got worse, especially from about lap 20 to around half distance when I went too wide on a turn and collected some dirt - that's when I lost two or three positions. I came in then and my pit stop was good, and afterwards on new tyres the car felt good again. Then the clutch started to grab and the team told me to put it in override. I did this and carried on, passing MIka Salo and managing to hold him off. Then when I came to the hairpin on lap 63 I tried to downshift, and the clutch just didn't work - I had to pull off the track and my race was finished."
STEVE FARRELL, Chief Engineer, British American Racing "Everyone in the team is highly disappointed but, once again, we have shown that we are competitive and can be racing for points. Clearly however, we are still lacking reliability. Once we achieve that, we are confident that we will be able to score points at each race."