French GP Williams preview

After having spent three days testing at Magny-Cours last week, the BMW WilliamsF1 Team returns to the circuit for this weekend's French Grand Prix. Both Ralf Schumacher and Jenson Button were on duty during last week's test programme that...

After having spent three days testing at Magny-Cours last week, the BMW WilliamsF1 Team returns to the circuit for this weekend's French Grand Prix. Both Ralf Schumacher and Jenson Button were on duty during last week's test programme that involved working on race simulation exercises and trying new components, as well as assessing tyre compounds.

Ralf Schumacher
"After the last three races where we unfortunately haven't scored a point, I hope for better fortune in Magny-Cours. The BMW WilliamsF1 Team tested there last week and one thing I can say for sure is that my leg is no longer causing me any pain. I am totally fit again for racing. From my experience, the time differences during qualifying at Magny-Cours are usually very close. Subsequently, we have to set-up the Williams BMW very carefully. The pit straight is followed by the Grande Courbe, a very fast left hand corner with a very quick entry, followed by a left-hand "kink" before your drive into the compression of the right hand corner. You have to try to carry the car through the corner and come out cleanly, as this will determine your speed on the straight. In these first two corners, you can gain most of the time. One of the few areas to overtake is at the end of the long straight in the braking area to the Adelaide. The two chicanes, the Nurburgring as well as the Imola, are very quick. For both "S" corners it's not easy to find the correct turn in point and you can use the kerbs, but not too much because otherwise you loose the aerodynamical balance. Another very critical point is the chicane just before the start/finish line. There you have to have a car that is good at jumping on the kerbs - and you have to be confident here. As we all know, the track surface is very smooth, so ride height can be set lower than normal, gaining downforce with only little drag. Because of the low grip level you need a car with good mechanical grip and because of the fast corners a good aerodynamic package." Jenson Button
"Unlike the previous few races, I have raced at Magny-Cours before when I was in F3. It's got a variety of corners and has a very smooth surface, which I like. I was testing here last week and learned new things about this track, which just serves to highlight how different it feels when compared to F3. The BMW WilliamsF1 Team worked very hard indeed last week in an effort to find an effective race set-up and we generated some valuable data which we hope to put to good use in the run-up to this race."

Gerhard Berger (BMW Motorsport Director)
"After three turbulent races in a row with rain at the Nuerburgring, restarts in Monaco and again rain in Montreal, it would be nice to have a Grand Prix now without so many external factors coming into play. It also would be nice if Ralf wasn't again involved in an accident that he didn't cause. Magny-Cours is a track very hard on tyres, especially the long right-hander after the start-and-finish straight which stresses the left front tyre extremely hard. The decisive question is who achieves the best set-up of the car and therefore has the best control over the unpleasant understeer. During the past few weeks we have been working step by step on the development of the V10 engine. This has led to increased reliability shown at the last races and tests. With that in mind, we hope to finish the race and preferably in the points. This is not going to be an easy task, as Benetton and Jordan have caught up with us."

Frank Williams
"All I would add to the pertinent comments made previously is that the team will be in fighting shape, looking for reliability and good finishing positions as - like everyone else said - we have a real need for some points."

The 72-lap French Grand Prix gets underway at 14:00 local time (12:00 GMT) on Sunday 2nd July. A total race distance of 190.077 miles (305.886 km) will be covered at the Circuit de Nevers where Nigel Mansell's lap record of 1m17.070s - achieved in 1992 in a Williams - still remains unbeaten. That year Mansell won the French Grand Prix, which helped him to win the Drivers' World Championship and Williams to win the Contructors Championship.

Last year Barrichello achieved the pole position in his Stewart-Ford but only got third on the podium, right in front of Ralf Schumacher, in a race which was heavily affected by awful weather. The race winner was Heinz-Harald Frentzen, thanks also to Jordan's brilliant strategy, and second was Mika Hakkinen.

<pre> Ralf Schumacher -- car no. 9 Jenson Button -- car no. 10

Nationality German British Born 30 June 1975 – Horth, (Germany) 19 January 1980, Frome (UK) Marital status single single Lives Monte Carlo Bicester, Oxfordshire (UK) Height 1,78 m 1,82 m Weight 73 kg 74 kg F1 debut 1997, Melbourne, Australia 2000, Melbourne, Australia Best qualifying 3rd: 1997 France (Magny-Cours) 6th: 2000 Great Britain Best GP finish 2nd: 1998 Belgium, 1999 Italy 5th 2000 Great Britain GP starts 57 8 Points 2000 12 3 Total points 74 3 Fastest laps 1 0

2000 FIA F1 Championship

Qualifying Race Qualifying Race

Australia 11th 3rd 21st DNF Brazil 11th 5th 9th 6th San Marino 5th DNF 18th DNF Great Britain 7th 4th 6th 5th Spain 5th 4th 11th DNF Nurburgring 5th DNF 11th DNF Monaco 9th DNF 14th DNF Canada 12th 14th 18th 11th

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jenson Button , Ralf Schumacher , Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Mika Hakkinen , Gerhard Berger , Nigel Mansell , Frank Williams
Teams Williams , Benetton , Jordan