French Grand Prix - Preview 29th, 30th, June - 1st July After the team's most solid performance of the year at the NÃ¼rburgring, Jaguar Racing head straight to Magny Cours in France in the hope of translating their improved form into...
French Grand Prix - Preview
29th, 30th, June - 1st July
After the team's most solid performance of the year at the Nürburgring, Jaguar Racing head straight to Magny Cours in France in the hope of translating their improved form into championship points. Eddie Irvine and Pedro de la Rosa finished the Grand Prix of Europe in 7th and 8th place respectively with Eddie finishing only 1.3 seconds behind McLaren's Mika Hakkinen. Eddie also claimed the 5th fastest race lap. The team's continued quest to develop a stronger aerodynamic package is beginning to bear fruit with the aim being to make this race the third out of four from which the team has scored points.
Magny Cours is a typically modern circuit with an interesting mix of slow corners and hairpins, but lacks ample opportunities to overtake amid its complex layout. The circuit was opened to Formula One in 1991 following major upgrades to the existing club circuit and resides within a quintessentially French rural environment.
Bobby Rahal - Chief Executive Officer & Team Principal
"Our objective at the beginning of this season was 'respectability' and I'd like to think that we're getting some way to achieving that now. The Nürburgring performance highlighted that we are now operating in a manner that's consistent with our mission fo r this season. We are a new team with new people and you'll never catch Ferrari, McLaren or WilliamsF1 over one or two seasons alone. Our experience, resource and capability are growing but we are not yet equipped to fight the big boys head-on. We are, how ever, getting very close indeed to Jordan, BAR and Sauber. We have greatly reduced the gap to these teams to the extent that we must now capitalise upon our full potential, particularly during the qualifying hour. The Jaguar R2 has proved that it has the r ace pace to fight with this strong midfield pack and while we are not yet at the standard of the top three, I want to ensure that we are well-placed to take advantage of any mistakes or problems they suffer from during a race. Unfortunately for us, all six cars from the top three teams finished the last race, but that will not always be the case and it's up to us to ensure that we pick-up the points they leave behind. Our last Magny Cours test was straight after the Monaco Grand Prix and it went very well indeed. It remains to be seen how the tyre war will manifest itself this weekend but I'm confident of benefiting from Michelin's expertise in Magny Cours. Eddie is also a big fan of this circuit and combined with our ever-improving form, I'm confident of another solid team performance this weekend."
"I really like the Magny Cours circuit as a driving exercise although it's not that great to race on because of the lack of overtaking opportunities. It's the same old problem that the corners leading onto the straights are too quick to hang onto someone's tail as you lose all front-end downforce. Even though we spent a week testing here, chances are we will have to start again this weekend when it comes to establishing a set-up as the track is very heat sensitive and also the wind direction has a habit of changing, which alters the car's behaviour. On the plus side, the track boasts a very smooth surface and safety measures are good. Although there are some challenging fast corners, there are some bits that are just too twisty like the Esses that run down to the final corner. You have little option but to play 'follow-my-leader' through them. The downside of Magny Cours is that there is nowhere to go in this part of France and I know the hotel menu off by heart! With back-to-back races, we have obviously not tested in the run-up to the French Grand Prix but that doesn't mean that I haven't driven a Jaguar in anger on the racetrack this week. In fact, I was at Silverstone with Pedro for a Jaguar Cars 'International Ride & Drive' event which involved hurtling journalists around the race track in Jaguar road cars, including the new X-Type. I have done plenty of these 'Ride & Drive' events before and the real fun part is scaring the journalists witless by putting the X-Type sideways everywhere and braking extremely late! I just hope the people at Jaguar had some good cleaning products for the leather seats!"
Pedro de la Rosa
"I'm looking forward to this weekend after our strong performance at the Nürburgring. We didn't score any points but we demonstrated clearly the potential we have. I now have a much better feel for the Jaguar R2 and the technical problems I suffered from during my first few races have been addressed and corrected. We need more speed, but there isn't an F1 driver out there who wouldn't ask for this. Our relative lack of pace during the opening few races of the season was primarily down to a lack of downforce and while there is still more pace to extract, I must say that I am very encouraged by the improvements we have made recently. We all need to do a better job in qualifying because we are currently making our lives harder than is necessary. We have a strong, competitive and reliable package in race trim and a few places further up the grid will allow us to consistently scrap for points. Magny Cours is a very hard circuit to overtake on and the need to qualify well at this race cannot be overstated. I am confident, however, of improving further upon our recent form and as has been the case recently, we arrive in Magny Cours with Championship points on our minds."