THE CIRCUIT From a circuit layout standpoint, the Nurburgring, home of the European Grand Prix, is decidedly tame by comparison with its daunting, 14-mile-long predecessor, located only a short distance away. There are no particularly fast...
From a circuit layout standpoint, the Nurburgring, home of the European Grand Prix, is decidedly tame by comparison with its daunting, 14-mile-long predecessor, located only a short distance away. There are no particularly fast corners - just one reasonably quick "S" bend - which means it is a fairly high downforce track that is comparatively light on brakes and tyres. To achieve a competitive lap time requires all the normal chassis attributes: good traction, particularly out of the hairpins, good chassis balance and stability under braking, and the best possible compromise between downforce and straight-line speed. As the circuit is situated close to the Eifel Mountains, weather can often play a major role in the outcome of the race. LAST YEAR
After qualifying eighth and seventeenth respectively, British American Racing''s Jacques Villeneuve and Ricardo Zonta both performed impressively in what turned out to be an incident-filled race. With heavy bursts of rain frequently making track conditions treacherous, the Brazilian stopped three times for fresh tyres and drove strongly to claim eighth at the chequered flag. Villeneuve ran on dry tyres throughout, but was forced to retire four laps from the finish when his car developed mechanical problems. He had been running in fifth place at the time and was solidly on course to score BAR''s first-ever World Championship points. The unpredictable weather conditions were reflected in the result, Stewart Grand Prix''s Johnny Herbert running out the unexpected winner with team mate, Rubens Barrichelllo, taking third. Jarno Trulli finished second for Prost. THIS YEAR
"I know the circuit well from my time in Formula 3000 and the FIA GT Championship, although last year was my first time here in a Formula One car. It is not a fast track, but it is one that I like because you can get into a good rhythm. My main area of concentration this weekend will be on improving my performance in qualifying. We worked on this successfully at the Jerez test last week, so I hope we can carry the lessons learned through to the Nurburgring and get a good result. I had a competitive race there last year. I''d like to do the same this year, and also score some more points." Steve Farrell, Chief Engineer, British American Racing
"Too many times this year there have been races where technical difficulties have forced our drivers to retire from certain points-scoring positions. We''re determined to sort those problems and demonstrate that BAR Honda is capable of fielding two competitive cars that have a realistic chance of gaining World Championship points every time out. Pleasingly, last week''s Jerez test provided us with a major breakthrough in terms of the transmission reliability issues that have hurt us on occasion this year. Jacques has shown clearly that he is capable of putting his car in at least sixth position on the grid and finishing in the points. The team''s focus at the Nurburgring will be to do everything possible to help Ricardo improve his qualifying performance. Realistically, we want to be able to qualify both cars in the top 10. Consistency and competitiveness are the name of the game when it comes to the long haul of a 17-race championship, and that''s what we''re aiming for."