FIA Formula One Championship The Stewart-Ford team is approaching the Brazilian Grand Prix in confident mood after a solid opening to the 1999 Formula One season in Melbourne and impressive performances in the test session in Barcelona...
FIA Formula One Championship
The Stewart-Ford team is approaching the Brazilian Grand Prix in confident mood after a solid opening to the 1999 Formula One season in Melbourne and impressive performances in the test session in Barcelona following the Australian Grand Prix. Rubens and Johnny were first and second respectively over the three days of testing and Rubens' best lap time of 1:20.48 was the quickest by a 1999 Formula One car at the Circuit de Catalunya this year.
Rubens obviously knows Interlagos well, having spent his childhood close to the Sao Paulo circuit. His best finish in the Brazilian Grand Prix was 4th in 1994 while his best qualifying performance was 2nd in 1996. Johnny finished 4th on his Formula One debut in 1989 in Rio de Janeiro. He was also 4th in 1993 at Interlagos. His best qualifying position was 4th in 1995.
RUBENS BARRICHELLO Car No.16 (SF3-04)
'Naturally, the Brazilian Grand Prix is very special for me. Apparently all tickets are sold out and that means the home support will be fantastic. I am feeling very relaxed at the moment. The car ran brilliantly in Melbourne but, more importantly, we were able to improve on that in the Barcelona test. I am confident we can beat our qualifying times from 1998 by at least a second. I am looking forward to having a good weekend for me, the team and my people if we run reliably. I have some great memories of Interlagos and I enjoy the circuit a lot. Turn one is extra special for me; firstly because of the name Senna, and secondly because as you enter the first part of the bend the spectators can get a great appreciation of the cars because they are so close and the braking point is so late. The area between the Reta Oposta and Descida do Lago is also dear to my heart. It is where I learned to race karts. As a young boy I would ride my bicycle up from the karting track and sit there watching my Formula One heroes drive past. My best moments at this turn come from the formation lap when I can read the banners saying: 'Go Rubinho Go'. It's then that I realise that I'm at home.'
JOHNNY HERBERT Car No.17 (SF3-05)
'Interlagos has a good variety of corners, fast and slow so the car should be suited because it has proven that it can adapt pretty easily to the various demands of cornering. The bumps would normally be a problem but once again I'm confident the car will perform well. Barcelona was a bit mixed though we did make a step forward which hopefully will move us closer to McLaren. I think our chances in Brazil are just as good as they were in Melbourne if not better. Looking back at Melbourne, Rubens could have won and I probably would have finished in the points seeing how the race panned out. If we have the same type of race in Brazil, our chances are looking very good.'
GARY ANDERSON, SGP Technical Director
'We head to Brazil with high hopes. It's Rubens' home track which gives us a bit of added momentum but what we need to concentrate on is getting both Johnny and Rubens in the ball park. Obviously we would have liked to have Johnny qualifying higher up than he did in Melbourne and there's no question that with a trouble-free session he would have done so because he was comfortably in the top five on Friday. We will be aiming to get both cars up near the front of the grid and I'm confident that we can do that. In Brazil you run a high downforce setting on the car but because of the high altitude you lose about 10 per cent of the downforce. It's the same for everybody but because we will be running a similar aerodynamic configuration to Melbourne, where we undoubtedly had the edge over a number of the other cars in overall performance, we should expect to be outpacing our closest rivals again. The testing in Barcelona has underlined what a good package we have, good traction, good brakes, a strong engine performance-wise, we just need to hit on a streak of reliability. Rubens knows the track better than anyone and he's convinced the new car will be suited to it.'
MARTIN WHITAKER, Director, Ford Racing, Europe
'A lot of work has been done since the Australian Grand Prix and we know we are further down the road relative to where we were in Melbourne. We have made several modifications to the engines to overcome the problems seen on the grid in Australia and having successfully completed simulated starts at the test in Barcelona we will be looking for two race finishes in Brazil. Our competitiveness was confirmed by the three-day test in Barcelona where we were fastest. The test also illustrated that there is still some way to go with respect to engine reliability. We suffered several similar failures which, although difficult to prove conclusively, look like they were related to a manufacturing problem which tipped an already difficult area of the engine over the edge. For Brazil these issues have been addressed, but the fact remains that we are still at the very early stages of the engine's development and need to complete more race distances before we can be really confident in the engine's reliability. However, it should be clear from our performances so far that we have a good chance of another points finish in Brazil and in particular Rubens must feel he has a better opportunity than ever of doing well in his home event.'