Austrian GP Jaguar preview

AUSTRIAN GRAND PRIX 11th, 12th, 13th May Having completed a productive four-day test programme at Valencia in Southern Spain, Jaguar Racing head to the A1-Ring in Austria for the sixth round of the FIA Formula One World Championship. Radically...

11th, 12th, 13th May

Having completed a productive four-day test programme at Valencia in Southern Spain, Jaguar Racing head to the A1-Ring in Austria for the sixth round of the FIA Formula One World Championship. Radically re-shaped and revised, the Ã-sterreichring was transformed into the A1-Ring in time for the 1997 Grand Prix as Formula One returned to Austria after a ten year absence. With a combination of both slow and fast corners and several long straights, the A1-Ring doesn't impose too strong an aerodynamic challenge relative to other circuits and with the temperamental weather conditions, tyres will again play a critical role over the course of the weekend.

Bobby Rahal - Chief Executive Officer & Team Principal
"We're naturally disappointed with the result of the Spanish Grand Prix but on the other hand, I am very encouraged by the team effort that was demonstrated over the weekend. Mark Ellis who recently joined us as chief race engineer is bringing leadership and experience into much needed areas. Both drivers have worked hard in the run-up to this race and our four-day test in Valencia went well. Engine and tyre testing has been responsible for taking up the bulk of our time at tests over the past few months but Valencia was well received by the drivers, particularly Eddie, because they worked on set-up and balance. We are pushing forward with the aerodynamic improvements required, and these changes will be applied very soon. The Michelin tyres have proved competitive in dry conditions and we have been working hard with Michelin on wet compounds. We artificially wet the Valencia circuit on the final day and conducted long runs with both drivers in an effort to prepare ourselves for what Austria might bring."

Eddie Irvine
"I'm looking forward to Austria, not least because I missed this race last year as I had to be flown back to London for tests after suffering with abdominal pains. It's difficult to say what sort of result we can expect, but I do know that the four days of testing I did last week in Valencia were very positive. We managed to generate good mileage, most of them productive. So far this year, like most of the teams, we have concentrated on tyre and engine development. Last week, while continuing with this we also got down to some serious set-up and car balance work and I feel we have made progress and learnt a great deal about the Jaguar R2. Coming to Austria this early in the year, there is a good chance of bad weather and that will mean a more representative test of all the new electronic aids on the car that we used in Barcelona for the first time. Although we didn't have an easy time in Barcelona two weeks ago, one thing I was pleased about was that, while other teams seemed to have problems, we had a trouble-free time with our traction and launch control and all the other electronics developed by Cosworth and Pi Electronics. The team did a great job and I won't be too worried if it rains here. The circuit itself is nothing special, although at least there are some overtaking opportunities. The fact I won here in 1999 means nothing. F1 doesn't stand still and what happened two years ago has no impact on this weekend's race."

Pedro de la Rosa
"My debut race for Jaguar Racing was a nightmare! Not only was I forced to qualify 20th on the grid because I qualified in the T-car, but I was then forced out of the race by Heinz-Harald Frentzen after only a handful of laps. Our four-day Valencia test, however, was productive in that we learnt good things about set-up and balance - something we haven't done too much of because of tyre testing duties. We found improvements in the set-up and the handling. We also tried wet weather tyre compounds and I'm encouraged about the results we generated. The tyre war is getting very tight now and it will be interesting to see how it manifests itself in Austria if the weather is bad. On the other hand, we are expecting aero improvements to the car in the next couple of races and that should, I hope, allow Eddie and I qualify further up the pecking order. We are desperately in need of points and being further up the grid makes that challenge a more realistic one."

Niki Lauda (CEO, Premier Performance Division) - short interview

As your home race, does this make it any more special for you?

No, it doesn't mean more. It's another race in the calendar but expectations will naturally be high, particularly amongst local media. It was no different from when I was driving here at Zeltweg, prior to the building of the Ã-sterreichring in 1968. I also announced my retirement here back in 1985, so I suppose it does have some emotional significance. In fact, what still makes me laugh is the 1985 Austrian Grand Prix. I lost third gear on the final lap and began thinking about pulling over and retiring. Because I was too lazy to walk back to the paddock, I decided to crawl back using fourth and fifth gears. After the race on the podium, Nelson Piquet who finished second behind me said "I knew you were only playing with me out there and if I had tried overtaking, you would have sped away." I told him he was an idiot because I wasn't playing at all - I'd lost third gear. I won the championship by half a point that year. Amazing.

You have now moved to London in an effort to base yourself full time at the Premier Automotive Group (PAG) in London. What exactly does your role there involve?

My role is very simple. The PAG looks after Ford's luxury brands (Volvo, Lincoln, Aston Martin, Land Rover and Jaguar) and this group is headed-up by Dr. Wolfgang Reitzle. The motorsport arm of this group is the Premier Performance Division and that's where my responsibility lies. Jaguar is the only brand from the portfolio that is currently active in motorsport and my role aims to bring Jaguar Racing, Cosworth and Pi Electronics into closer synergy. Contrary to the rubbish that is sometimes written, I am not in charge of Jaguar Racing - that's Bobby's (Rahal) job - not mine. I am not here to reinvent the wheel. In some ways, I have taken over from what Neil Ressler was doing last year. I manage the group involving Jaguar Racing, Cosworth and Pi - not just Jaguar Racing. An example of the recent good work achieved by these three units is traction control. For a team that has no experience of traction control, we did a great job in Barcelona, especially when you consider the experience of other teams around us. Cosworth and Pi worked together on this project and we were rewarded with Eddie jumping four places at the start of the Spanish race. He could have taken more had he not been held up. It's only a matter of time before the other teams catch-up, but we'll certainly exploit the competitive edge while we have it.

You are not exactly a fan of traction control or any other form of electronic driver aid. Why?

I don't want to sound like a retrospective person stuck in the past but the fact remains that in my day everything was in the hands of the driver - the gear changes, the delicate art of clutch control during race starts, managing engine revs during gear changes - everything. People say that F1 is blessed with the "best drivers in the world", but I want to witness the "total best drivers in the world" and this means taking away the elements that make their job easier. Millions around the world see Formula One as the pinnacle of motorsport and I firmly believe that we should do whatever it takes to keep this accolade. Traction control, automatic gear changes and launch control isn't my definition of the "pinnacle of motorsport".

Jaguar Racing has started five races this season and has no points to show for this so far. What is it going to take to make this team a success?

The team's immediate challenge is getting the aerodynamics right - that's where we need to improve. Bobby and the team are working relentlessly on a new aero package and that should put us into contention for points very soon I hope. We are discussing various concepts for next year's car and my ambition is to win races in year three. Being consistently competitive is the key to winning races over the long term and nobody here is complacent. We need to give our drivers a better car for the remainder of this season and everybody is working hard in an effort to achieve this without delay. <pre> 2000 Facts & Figures

Top six places

M Hakkinen      McLaren Mercedes        1h 28m15.818s
D Coulthard     McLaren Mercedes        1h28m28.1s
R Barrichello   Ferrari                 1h28m46.6s
J Villeneuve    BAR-Honda               one lap
J Button        WilliamsF1 BMW          one lap
M Salo          Sauber                  one lap

The 71 Lap Austrian Grand Prix gets underway at 12:00 (BST) on Sunday 13 May


·Date of birth:   10 November 1965      ·Date of birth:  24 February 1971
·Place of birth:  Newtownards, NIR      ·Place of birth: Barcelona, Spain
·Marital Status:  Single                ·Marital Status: Single
·Lives:           Dublin                ·Lives:          Monaco
·Height:          1.78m                 ·Height:         1.77m
·Weight:          70kg                  ·Weight:         73kg

Grand Prix Summary Grand Prix Summary

·Starts:         118                    ·Starts:           34
·Poles:          0                      ·Poles:            0
·Wins:           4                      ·Wins:             0
·Fastest Laps:   1                      ·Fastest Laps:     0


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Pedro de la Rosa , Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Bobby Rahal , Niki Lauda , Nelson Piquet , Mark Ellis
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Jaguar Racing