FRENCH GRAND PRIX - JORDAN-PEUGEOT PREVIEW The Benson and Hedges Total Jordan-Peugeot team returns home to Europe for round nine of the 1996 Formula One championship, the French Grand Prix, which takes place next Sunday...
FRENCH GRAND PRIX - JORDAN-PEUGEOT PREVIEW The Benson and Hedges Total Jordan-Peugeot team returns home to Europe for round nine of the 1996 Formula One championship, the French Grand Prix, which takes place next Sunday (June 30th), at the Circuit de Nevers in Magny Cours. The 4.250-kilometre track is well known to Martin Brundle who spent many hours test- ing there when he drove for Ligier. He also recorded his best ever grid position at the French venue, qualifying third for the Grand Prix in 1993. Rubens Barrichello has put in some promising performances at Magny Cours, although it has not always been a lucky circuit for the Brazilian. Knocked out of the championship points on the penultimate lap in 1993, he was confident of a rostrum finish the following year until he was knocked out of the race by Jean Alesi. Rubens went on to record his first French GP points last year when he came home sixth, while Martin Brundle finished the race two places ahead of him in fourth. The B&H Jordan will be looking to come home in the in the points again this year at partner's Peugeot's home Grand Prix. Peugeot has only been competing in F1 for three years. In that short space of time however, the French engine manufacturer has come to be recognized as a significant force within the sport. Martin Brundle is well placed to chart the rise. ``I was there in the early days - and they were sometimes painful early days,'' says Brundle, who has some less than happy memories of his season with McLaren-Peugeot in 1994. ``Fundamen- tally I am still dealing with the same people as I dealt with then, but two years down the road the engine is now close to being he best engine in Formula One. ``Peugeot have progressed in all areas. Reliability and drivability have come along very strongly and we now have fantas- tic power, as was demonstrated at the Canadian Grand Prix. To be honest, I was a bit shocked when I first ran the engine in the back of the Jordan last December. It seems as though some things had gone backwards since the McLaren days. Over the last few months though the whole thing has really moved forward at a very impressive pace. ``They have made a big step forward this year both in terms of power and reliability,'' agrees Martin's team mate Rubens Barrichello. ``I think they provide us with a very good engine, if not the best then certainly almost the best. If I had to score the engine from one to ten, I would give it a nine. On a personal level though I would give the company a ten. Peugeot is a very professional operation; Jordan is learning a lot from the profes- sionalism of Peugeot and visa versa.'' ``We have grown to understand each other more and more as time goes on,'' adds Jordan's technical director, Gary Anderson. ``Technically we are both heading in the right direction, working hard to improve our performance and reliability. ``Consistency, be it driver and team or team and engine supplier, is important in a working relationship as is commitment and this is Peugeot's strongest point.'' ``There is a level of control in the organization, such that it is all a logical step by step delivery of the goods,'' Brundle explains. ``Everybody is rowing in the same direction, they are very coordinated and I am very impressed by the direction from Pierre-Michel Fauconnier (Peugeot Sport director) and Jackie Eeckelaert (Peugeot F1 coordinator) and indeed with the whole Peugeot equipe. With the announcement that Renault is pulling out of Formula One, this engine is going to be hot property for the future.'' Right now Jordan's attention is focused on the French Grand Prix, where the team hopes to add to its points tally in front of Peugeot's home crowd. Does that put the drivers under extra pressure to perform? ``I feel under pressure to perform every- where,'' Brundle said. ``Having driven for Ligier for a couple of years and, having driven for Peugeot before though, I am aware of the extra special pressures around the French motor racing envi- ronment. Peugeot want to deliver at their home Grand Prix and we want to deliver for them.'' CIRCUIT DETAILS Length: 4.250 kilometres. Race distance: 72 laps. 1995 pole: Damon Hill (Williams-Renault) 1:17.225 (198.122 kph). Fastest lap: Michael Schumacher (Benetton-Renault) 1:20.218. Race result 1. Michael Schumacher Benetton-Renault 1:38:28.429. 2. Damon Hill Williams-Renault + 31.309. 3. David Coulthard Williams-Renault + 1:02.826. 4. Martin Brundle Ligier-Mugen + 1:03.293. 5. Jean Alesi Ferrari + 1:17.869. 6. Rubens Barrichello Jordan-Peugeot - One lap.
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* 1st 2.00 #8604 * Magniloquence is not my strong point.