Silverstone July 9, 1999 -- "So far, so good" was the story today for the British American Racing team during free practice for Sunday's British Grand Prix. Jacques Villeneuve's confidence in the team's improving prospects following a successful...
Silverstone July 9, 1999 -- "So far, so good" was the story today for the British American Racing team during free practice for Sunday's British Grand Prix. Jacques Villeneuve's confidence in the team's improving prospects following a successful Silverstone test last week appears, at this stage, not to have been misplaced, as both he and fellow driver Ricardo Zonta improved over the morning session to show ompetitive times with the field.
Both cars performed well without mechanical problems and work continued on finding an optimum balance for the all-important qualifying session to come. Zonta had some catching up to do, as he did not get as much running time last week, but he suffered no particular problems and was able to set a time close to Jacques' shortly before the afternoon session ended. And, while Villeneueve slipped to ninth in the afternoon from sixth in the morning, his lap time improved to one minute, 27.981 seconds, exactly one second behind session leader Mika Hakkinen. Jacques' best morning lap was 1:28.203.
Zonta's gains were more evident, up to 11th on a time of 1:28.238, some 1.691 seconds better than his 17th place best lap in the morning. Ralph Schumacher (Williams) lies second with 1:27.004, just ahead of Ferrari's Eddie Irvine in 1:27.061. A caution, however, in that the Irishman's time was set in the morning session, as was team-mate Michael Schumacher's (sixth, 1:27.321). Both drivers spent the afternoon seassion working on special set-ups.
JACQUES VILLENEUVE -- 1:27.981 -- 9th "We knew that we would be better here than in Magny-Cours and all day the car has been very competitive. We have been able to do some good work. We were running on old tyres, and in fact the car was better on old tyres than on new ones. Looking ahead, Silverstone has been a good track for me in the past, so hopefully we can try and get our first points here this weekend."
RICARDO ZONTA -- 1:28.238 -- 11th "This morning we struggled with our set-ups, but then we went back to one which we tried last week at the test and that was a lot better. Then this afternoon I had problems with my first set of tyres which gave me big understeer and I wasn't able to find a good balance for the car. It was very difficult to drive and nothing seemed to improve it. When we changed the tyres for my last run, things improved dramatically. The car was handling much better and that's when I was able to improve my time, right at the end of the day."
CRAIG POLLOCK, Managing Director, British American Racing "We feel that we're in very good shape for the first day of the weekend. I'm glad that Ricardo was able to jump up at the end of the session because it gives him and us a lot of confidence for what we can achieve in qualifying on Saturday."
ROBERT SYNGE, Team Manager, British American Racing "No problems on either car, and Jacques was running with quite a heavy fuel load on his quick lap. Our car's characteristics suit the Silverstone circuit better than it did at either Magny-Cours or Montreal. We feel that we're close to achieving our aim of getting both cars into the top-10."