by Mark Gledhill - Motorsport.com The Jaguar Racing Formula One team was out in force at Silverstone National Circuit today in its final shakedown test before heading to Barcelona. Team boss Bobby Rahal was in attendance, as well as his race ...
by Mark Gledhill - Motorsport.com
The Jaguar Racing Formula One team was out in force at Silverstone National Circuit today in its final shakedown test before heading to Barcelona. Team boss Bobby Rahal was in attendance, as well as his race drivers Eddie Irvine and Luciano Burti, test driver Tomas Scheckter and guest driver Christian Danner. Most of the day's work centered around obtaining footage for television commercials - Eddie Irvine spent a large part of the day rehearsing and acting scenes. However there was the opportunity for some testing in the difficult conditions.
The track was very damp from overnight rain, the weather was cold and overcast, and visibility was less than 100m. There were even patches of ice in the pit lane, forcing the start of the session to be postponed as vehicles cleared the track. There were three cars in the Jaguar garage: a showcar to be used for filming purposes, the latest R2, and a R1B.
Tomas Scheckter was the first driver to be involved with filming, having to sit in the showcar as it was filmed being pushed in and out of the garage. The South African driver denied that he was following in the steps of Michael Schumacher's advertising career, and denied that he was preparing for a career in modeling after Formula One. "I've just been a dummy, using Eddie's helmet!" he said, as Eddie had not yet arrived and the film-crew were keen to get as much footage as possible.
Tomas went on to explain the day's testing schedule: "I won't be doing any laps today. However the R2 is going to do one check down lap before it goes off to Barcelona, and the R1B will be doing some testing but not a lot."
The fog cleared during the morning and at midday the circuit was opened, followed twenty minutes later by the roar of the R2's engine as it was fired up in the garage. After five minutes Luciano Burti drove out of the garage. The Brazilian was very careful round the corners but pushed the car hard towards Maggotts and along the National straight. He completed one installation lap, and the car was checked over before he was sent back out for three flying laps. The conditions were very difficult, and Burti complained of wheelspin even in fifth gear. "We did a few tests already in pretty bad conditions, pretty cold, slippery and wet. We really need a proper day on a nice track" he said, and was unable to compare the R2 to the R1 because of the difficult conditions.
At 1pm the engine of the R1B was fired up and Eddie Irvine left the pits for an installation lap. Irvine was a lot more cautious and smoother than Burti, and also commented on the difficult conditions. His three-lap run was filmed in order to obtain some on-board footage for advertisements, and so he was asked to not push too hard. Irvine started off carefully but gradually found more time, braking much later for Copse at the end of his run than at the start of it.
After lunch the rain started and gradually got heavier during the afternoon. The R2 was taken back to a truck and wasn't seen again for the rest of the afternoon. However attention focused on the R1B which had been set up for Christian Danner, a former Formula One driver who participated in 36 Grands Prix between 1985 and 1989. The German driver was making a guest appearance for Jaguar to help record footage for advertisements.
Danner had some trouble getting the car going in the pit lane, but eventually started moving towards the pit exit. After completing an out-lap Danner started on a flying lap, but soon spun at Maggotts. He kept going, but then lost control at Woodcote and spun into the barriers. The rear wing was slightly damaged and there was some concern about the gearbox. The on-board camera showed Danner twitching wildly before spinning several times and hitting a wall backwards.
Afterwards he spoke about the incident. "It was so slippery out there, you know, you can't really feel anything. Wheelspin, that's why I spun. There is a chance to do some more [driving], but in warm weather. I don't think at Silverstone. It depends, maybe in the summertime when it's warmer. Certainly we would like to have a bit more footage - how we do it and when we do it, it depends on the team and when they can do it."
The team decided not to repair the damage and instead called an end to the test session. All the goals were achieved and, apart from some minor damage to the R1B, the team is ready for the five day test in Barcelona where the R2 will be pushed to it's limits in preparation for the Australian Grand Prix.