Zonta's best-ever Friday practice encourages British American Racing team A1-Ring, Spielberg, Austria, July 23, 1999 -- Rookie Ricardo Zonta achieved his best Formula One practice result to date, setting a time only three-tenths of a second ...
Zonta's best-ever Friday practice encourages British American Racing team
A1-Ring, Spielberg, Austria, July 23, 1999 -- Rookie Ricardo Zonta achieved his best Formula One practice result to date, setting a time only three-tenths of a second behind provisional pole-sitter Damon Hill, and two-tenths ahead of team-mate Jacques Villeneuve in today's free practice for Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix.
Zonta's time, fourth best overall, was set on new tyres and on a lap relatively clear of traffic. Villeneuve's best time was set on old tyres, but when he went out again on new tyres hoping to improve his time, he was forced to back off because of yellow flags.
Briton Hill, who only two weeks ago was contemplating the last race of his career, turned in a best time of one minute, 13.303 seconds in his Jordan, ahead of the two McLarens of World Champion Mika Hakkinen, and David Coulthard who featured times of 1:13.325 and 1:13.376 respectively.
The 4.323km/2.648 mile A-1 Ring near Spielberg is familiar to both British American Racing drivers. Villeneuve won here in 1997, but it is Zonta's third sortie on the circuit in a third type of car. In 1997, Zonta finished second in a F3000 race, and last year won a race here en route to the world championship in the FIA GT1 category.
JACQUES VILLENEUVE -- 1:13.840 -- 8th "We worked well on set-ups today, but I don't personally think this is a difficult circuit to set the car up for -- you brake, you turn and you accelerate - so it's easy to get the right set-up. The track seemed good today, quite clean with no rubber and the grip was pretty good by the end of the session. The A1-Ring has always been good to me in the past, so I feel positive coming here. Although today's performance is encouraging, it's only Friday, but we're going to give it our best shot Saturday and hope for a top six (points)position."
RICARDO ZONTA -- 1:13.685 -- 4th "The work we did at our last test at Monza has helped us a lot. My car felt very good today. It was consistent in the corners, which meant I was able to push. Jacques and I are now running with the same differential -- at Silverstone I still had the older spec one and I think this gave Jacques a second's advantage over me in qualifying. Now we're the same and I think the lap times show this. I still have quite a bit of understeer in the fast corners but we're gradually improving this, and I think we can be even quicker."
CRAIG POLLOCK, Managing Director, British American Racing "I think the team did a great job today, especially Ricardo who put in a wonderful performance. Jacques' best chance of a quick lap was spoiled by the yellow flags coming out, but we're quite pleased with fourth and eighth positions.
ROBERT SYNGE, Team Manager, British American Racing "Both our drivers have been winners at this circuit and, for Ricardo particularly, that gives him added confidence for his first time here in F1. We're very pleased with his performance. We have incorporated some important new developments which we tested last week in Monza into the car's suspension, and we seem to have found the way to extract more of the car's real potential. This is the first of a series of developments -- both suspension and aerodynamic -- that we plan to introduce in the next few races."