The reputed variable weather conditions at Spa-Francorchamps resulted in a dry track for the first of today's Free Practice sessions but this was to change later when a heavy downpour disrupted the second session. Driving conditions became very ...
The reputed variable weather conditions at Spa-Francorchamps resulted in a dry track for the first of today's Free Practice sessions but this was to change later when a heavy downpour disrupted the second session. Driving conditions became very difficult for all on the slippery, twisty, fast track. Both the Jaguar drivers worked on a set-up programme and the team is generally happy with the cars, although the heavy rainfall compromised the planned tyre comparison programme.
Eddie Irvine finished the sessions in 8th position after completing 34 laps. Pedro de La Rosa was running well until he exited the pit lane to go out on his 24th lap and was hit from behind by Michael Schumacher's Ferrari, resulting in a punctured rear left tyre for the Jaguar and damage to the Ferrari's end section. The tyre was replaced and Pedro was able to go back for the remaining time, finishing in 13th place.
"We completed most of our planned programme today, but there's still work ahead of us before qualifying starts. The weather here just hangs around and today we again witnessed the havoc this brings to drivers at Spa. The second session was littered with casualties and it's very hard to see anybody on the track when it's that bad. I was lucky not to get caught up in any mistakes today, but there's still a long way until the end of the weekend. As we expected, there's an uphill task facing us this weekend and at this stage, it's hard to know what to expect, least of all the weather conditions."
Pedro de la Rosa
"That wasn't a particularly pleasing Free Practice session for me. The first session was used for set-up work, but the heavy rain interrupted the important tyre comparison work. There's still a lot of work left to do for tomorrow, but the car feels OK so far. I am having some understeer problems in some of the corners but this is something we can hopefully address tomorrow morning. As far as the Michael incident is concerned, it most certainly didn't seem to be a fault of mine. I was running down towards Eau Rouge and I saw Michael approaching in my rear view mirror. I pulled over to the right in an effort to allow him to take the racing line into Eau Rouge but he came smashing into the rear of my car. With so much rain, it was difficult to see exactly why this happened. As Michael passed, I noticed that most of the front-end of his car was missing and in my case, I lost the rear-left wheel. I haven't had a chance to discuss this with him yet, but I'm sure we will."
Niki Lauda, Team Principal
"Typical Spa! Not a great opportunity for the drivers to prepare for tomorrow, but this is what people have come to expect from Spa and I'm surprised in the least. We have several areas that need addressing and the team are working on those. The balance of the car around here seems good and until we have done a full tyre comparison, it's hard to judge the set-up options. A wet race may actually be better for us, but it's too early to make a complete judgement on this. I didn't see the full replay of Michael's accident with Pedro, but in these conditions, it's very hard indeed to apportion blame. I will discuss the incident with Pedro, but there's nothing to add to what he has already said. On the whole, it's an OK start to the weekend but not brilliant."
de la Rosa: R2-07