Hockenheim, July 30, 1999 â€“ It was a free practice session of many surprises today, several unpleasant, for many teams preparing for Sunday's German Grand Prix, and British American Racing was among that number. Drivers Jacques Villeneuve and...
Hockenheim, July 30, 1999 – It was a free practice session of many surprises today, several unpleasant, for many teams preparing for Sunday's German Grand Prix, and British American Racing was among that number. Drivers Jacques Villeneuve and Ricardo Zonta both suffered problems which cut short their track time and, as a result, could do not better than the 15th and 20th best lap times on the day.
One of the two fastest tracks (with Monza) on the Formula One calendar, the 4.240 mile/6.823 km Hockenheimring makes special demands on car and driver. Two dauntingly fast straights, interrupted by chicanes, where cars can reach speeds of 345 km/h, dictate a low downforce set-up, but the chicanes put a premium on braking and chassis stability. The track's length, especially the straights that hurtle off into dark, coniferous forests, mean that engines are working at full throttle for most of the race, which puts a great deal of stress on coolants and lubicants, and engine failures are common here.
Ricardo Zonta discovered this truth to his chagrin as he was forced to park out on the circuit in both sessions, the first time with an engine hydraulic leak, and the second when his engine failed. He completed 20 laps altogether. Jacques Villeneuve managed 21 laps, stopping early in the afternoon when his car developed a hydraulic problem.
The practice session provided several surprises, such as Jarno Trulli (Prost) in provisional pole position with a best time of one minute, 45.667 seconds, and Giancarlo Fisichella of Benetton third (1:46.243), sandwiching Ferrari's Eddie Irvine (1:46.225). David Coulthard (McLaren) was fourth fastest, but his team-mate, World Champion Mika Hakkinen, could not manage better than a lowly 10th. Other consistent performers in the 1999 season, among them Jean Alesi of Sauber and Jordan's Heinz-Harald Frentzen, could do no better than 16th and 17th position on the day.
JACQUES VILLENEUVE -- 1:47.513 -- 15th "This morning I was really suffering from the bumps on the straights. The car was bouncing around so much that I was just trying to keep my eyes open to see where the braking points were. It's annoying that we weren't able to do a full session this afternoon because we made some improvements which have helped the overall balance, and I think there is some more speed to come. The problem this afternoon was a hydraulic one, which unfortunately affects everything -- accelerator, engine, differential -- so there's no alternative other than stopping."
RICARDO ZONTA -- 1:48.978 -- 20th "Today has been difficult. Both practice sessions were cut short, and I need the time to work on getting a good setup for Saturday. With some more work I'm sure we can be quicker."
CRAIG POLLOCK, Managing Director, British American Racing "Today's session has been problematic. At other races on the first day we have been quite good, so we can hope that qualifying will bring us something better."
ROBERT SYNGE, Team Manager, British American Racing "Jacques' car has a fairly good balance, but this afternoon he had a hydraulic problem which cut short his session. Ricardo had engine problems in both sessions -- a hydraulic leak this morning, and an engine failure this afternoon. However we are confident that Saturday will be more successful, and that our lap times will improve once we have more track time to fine-tune our set-ups."