Suzuka, Japan, October 29, 1999 â€“ Trouble-free afternoon runs in today's Free Practice for Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix for both British American Racing team drivers, left Jacques Villeneuve and Ricardo Zonta lying in eighth and 17th positions...
Suzuka, Japan, October 29, 1999 – Trouble-free afternoon runs in today's Free Practice for Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix for both British American Racing team drivers, left Jacques Villeneuve and Ricardo Zonta lying in eighth and 17th positions respectively, but separated by only seven-tenths of a second.
Lack of grip was an issue in the morning and both drivers posted their best times on new tyres in the afternoon, Ricardo early on in the session, and Jacques towards the end.
Villeneuve gained more than a second and three positions in the afternoon, turning in a time of one minute, 44.179 seconds in the first session for 11th place, and improving to 1:43.047 after lunch. Conversely, Zonta came close to gaining two seconds, 1:45.364 to 1:43.776, but slipped two spots to 17th from 15th, after negotiating the 5.860 km/3.641 miles Suzuka circuit.
At the end of the day, the two McLarens led the pack with Mika Hakkinen first overall (1:41.746), just ahead of team-mate David Coulthard (1:41.894). Ferrari's Michael Schumacher was third and title contender Eddie Irvine, in the second Ferrari, was tenth. The McLaren and Ferrari drivers all turned in their best times in the morning session. Coulthard crashed in the afternoon, delaying the second session for 13 minutes, but was uninjured.
Sunday's race, the season finale for the 1999 FIA season, gets under way at 1300 local time.
JACQUES VILLENEUVE -- 1:43.047 -- 8th "Although an oil leak this morning meant we didn't do enough work, we managed to do a full afternoon session to catch up. The grip here is very low and the tyres always seem too hard, but at the end of the session on new tyres, the car seemed pretty good. With some more work on the balance and if we manage to have a good day on Saturday, we can hope for a top-six qualifying result. I like Suzuka -- it's a great track where you can have a lot of fun."
RICARDO ZONTA -- 1:43.776 -- 17th "It's my first time at Suzuka in F1 so I spent the morning on old tyres and didn't push at first because the car was very low and I didn't know its limit here. In the second session we put on new tyres, the car was a lot better and I found a lot of grip. Although the new tyres made a big difference I couldn't push too hard not knowing the limit of the car, so I maybe lost about half a second on my first flying lap."
CRAIG POLLOCK, Chairman & CEO, British American Racing "After the initial problem this morning on Jacques' car, things went very well for him. Ricardo also did a good job once he had familiarised himself with the circuit."
ROBERT SYNGE, Team Manager, British American Racing "We had no problems in the afternoon and are about where we expected to be after the first day. Ricardo did well although we maybe gave him new tyres a little too early, but he is quickly learning the circuit and should be higher up on Saturday."