First running for the Japanese Grand Prix was cut short for Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda driver Jacques Villeneuve today after an accident mid-way through the morning session. He lost control on the exit from Spoon Curve, spun the car and hit the...
First running for the Japanese Grand Prix was cut short for Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda driver Jacques Villeneuve today after an accident mid-way through the morning session. He lost control on the exit from Spoon Curve, spun the car and hit the armco, causing extensive damage to his BAR004.
Jacques emerged unscathed from the incident and the car's safety structure did its job to leave the chassis intact. The peripheral damage was substantial however, leaving the team with a race against time to retrieve anything of the afternoon session. The rear-end damage was resolved with a change of gearbox and suspension while the front-end damage left the team with a much taller order. Jacques finally rejoined the track with 12 minutes remaining so only completed 11 laps in total.
Olivier Panis lost half of his morning session in the wake of Jacques' crash after he stalled his engine whilst making his way through the debris.
"I lost a lot of time in the morning session, unfortunately due to my mistake. I slowed down to pick my way around the debris from Jacques' car and to check he wasn't hurt. I lost concentration and stalled the car so I'm sorry for the team because of that. I can't believe it! We tried many different things this afternoon and we worked towards the race configuration but we were struggling for grip and we're certainly not quick enough. I feel that we still have a lot of potential to improve the car so we have a lot of work to do tonight to get the best from the package."
"The car seemed to lose traction on the exit from Spoon Curve and I hit the kerb, lost control then spun the car into the barrier. It was quite a heavy impact but I'm fine. The car was quite badly damaged though so the guys did a fantastic job to get it ready in time to get any more running today. Having said that, I only managed 4 timed laps and 11 laps in total so we've done very little work on our race set-up. The engineers did a lot of work during the downtime while the car was being repaired using Olivier's data but we're too slow and we have a lot of catching up to do. We have a lot of work ahead of us this evening."
David Richards, Team Principal
"What can one say about a weekend that starts like this? It can only get better. The fact that neither driver got much running clearly reflects in the times and I'm quite confident that, given a clear run tomorrow morning, things will improve significantly."
Best lap time: 1:38.138 (11 laps)
Best lap time: 1:37.927 (23 laps)