Thick fog over the Spa-Francorchamps circuit and surrounding hills delayed the start of this morning's first Free Practice session by two hours as the FIA medical helicopter was unable to take off. Due to the lost time, Free Practice was reduced...
Thick fog over the Spa-Francorchamps circuit and surrounding hills delayed the start of this morning's first Free Practice session by two hours as the FIA medical helicopter was unable to take off. Due to the lost time, Free Practice was reduced to one 45 minute session which gave the Jaguar drivers little time to work through their set-up and tyre evaluation procedures. Eddie Irvine managed to finish seventh fastest after completing 12 laps, but Pedro de la Rosa lost valuable time after his car suffered a wishbone problem, leaving him in 14th place after completing only 9 laps.
Heavy rain at the start of the Qualifying session kept the Jaguar R2's off the track for the first half of the session. The constantly changing weather conditions made tyre selection extremely difficult for the team, and as the track dried, intermediates were used to replace the wet tyres. The gamble unfortunately didn't pay off and no marked improvement was found, unlike other teams who opted for either wet or dry tyres. Pedro de la Rosa managed 10th position on the grid for tomorrow's 44 lap Belgian Grand Prix while Eddie Irvine's efforts were compromised by traffic, which left him in a very disappointing 17th place.
Pedro de la Rosa
"Wrong tyres and going out at the wrong time - two simple requirements, but we got them both wrong today. I didn't get a good lap and while I'm starting the race from the fifth row, the simple fact is that we should have been way higher up the order. Frentzen did a brilliant job today and it just goes to show what can happen when you get a clean lap on the right tyre. Unlike Eddie, I am reasonably well placed to get something out of this race. Let's see what tomorrow now brings, but it could have been better today."
"My first run was OK, but I then had to switch over to the spare car because of problems with the exhaust. My second run was unfortunately aborted because of Pedro holding me up! He obviously didn't see me, but it cost me a run. With the changing weather conditions it was becoming very hard to decide on tyre choice. We decided to go for the intermediates, but it proved the wrong choice. I understand that the two Williams' drivers changed for dry tyres right at the end and look what happened! Big shame to say the least. I'm very disappointed, but Spa is always a gamble. It just so happens that our gamble didn't pay off today and those who stuck with dry or wet tyres were rewarded accordingly. Starting a race at Spa from the front is hard enough, but from 17th place, it's a mountain too steep to climb. We'll give it our best shot, of course, but it doesn't get much harder than this."
"We can't blame anybody or anything but ourselves. The Jaguar R2 was capable of significantly better times today, but we simply choose the wrong tyre. There really isn't much more to say. Given that I'm in charge of this team, the buck stops with me and I'll take the blame for this one! The debate on tyre choice is always a difficult one and today was no different. After much deliberation and with the facts at our disposal, we opted for the intermediates, but Williams and even Prost have proved that it wasn't the way to go. Pedro isn't placed too badly, but it's frustrating to know that the right tyre would have put both Jaguars into the top ten."