Monza, September 12, 1999 - After an optimistic sixth place in the morning warm-up, Jacques Villeneuve went out onto the Autodromo Nazionale Monza thinking positive thoughts and delivered British American Racing's best result of the 1999 season,...
Monza, September 12, 1999 - After an optimistic sixth place in the morning warm-up, Jacques Villeneuve went out onto the Autodromo Nazionale Monza thinking positive thoughts and delivered British American Racing's best result of the 1999 season, an eighth place in today's hard-fought Italian Thousands watch as Jacques challenges Monza Grand Prix. The Canadian driver spent most of the 53-lap, 190 mile/305 km race in a flock of drivers scrapping furiously for eighth through 12th positions. Included in the group were the Benetton pair of Giancarlo Fisichella and Alexander Wurz,who both would retire, Stewart's Johnny Herbert, D Ricardo in the thick of things at Monza amon Hill of Jordan, Prost's Olivier Panis and Sauber's Jean Alesi. When the race was done, Villeneuve has overtaken all of them, taking the chequered flag just behind Eddie Irvine of Ferrari in sixth and Williams' Alex Zanardi in seventh.
And while Mika Salo finished seventh for British Amer Who da man? These fans have the right answer ican Racing at the San Marino Grand Prix, and added an eighth place in Spain, both were one lap off the pace. Today's eighth was on the winning lap, with Villeneuve 41 seconds away from victory.
Ricardo Zonta also ran well in the race but was sidelined on lap 27 with the failure of a wheel-bearing on the right front tyre.
Heinz-Harald Frentzen of Jordan was the surprise winner of the race after polesitter Mika Hakkinen of McLaren spun out from the lead position. Next up and threatening right up to the chequered flag was Williams' Ralf Schumacher. "Super substitute" Salo gave Ferrari its second podium from him since Michael Schumacher broke his leg in June. with a superb driving performance right from the start.
Irvine's sixth-place and Hakkinen's DNF leave the Irishman and the Finn in a 60-point deadlock for the Driver's Championship standings. More significantly, Frentzen's victory and 10 points boosted him into third spot on the season's leaderboard with 50 points, two more than McLaren's David Coulthard, who earned a pair of points on a fifth-place finish.
Three races remain, with the European Grand Prix at Nurburgring the next up on September 26. That event is the finale to the European leg of the 1999 FIA Formula One season, with the last two races taking place in Malaysia and Japan in October.
In preparation for the European GP, British American Racing is to test for two days this week at Magny-Cours.
JACQUES VILLENEUVE - 8th "It was an exciting race, and the car was competitive from the first to the last lap so that I was able to keep pushing. At the start I was probably a bit cautious and could have made up a couple of places if I had been more aggressive, but then I felt that everything was going well, and I was sure that I could finish so I was not worrying about the reliability. In fact I was able to have some fun because the car allowed me to attack. The guys did a great job at the pit stop, allowing me to get in front of Hill (Jordan). Today has been a very positive result and now all we need do is to get some points."
RICARDO ZONTA - Retired Lap 27 "I moved up a place at the start and everything seemed to be going well and I had no problems with the car. Then at about half distance, I started to get a vibration in the front wheels and the brakes felt very spongy. The team decided to bring me in for an early pit stop and to check the car, but they couldn't find a problem so they sent me out again. I could tell immediately there was no difference, and was forced to stop on the next lap."
ROBERT SYNGE, Team Manager, British American Racing "Following our dreadful test here last week when Jacques only completed 22 laps, this was a fantastic result for team morale, because he was able to put in competitive lap times and his car did not miss a beat throughout the race. The very quick pit stop (8.5 seconds), allowed Jacques to make up a place, and this is down to sheer hard work by the guys who have been practising more than any other team. It paid off today."
CRAIG POLLOCK, Chairman & CEO, British American Racing "This was a great finish for us, and the whole team did an excellent job. Jacques was able to keep up with the pace of the top cars, and it was good to see him really able to compete. I am very sorry that Ricardo had to retire, as he was running as quickly as Jacques, and could have finished well. He showed today that, when he has a set-up he likes, he can do a good job."