Suzuka, October 30, 1999 - British American Racing team drivers Jacques Villeneuve and Ricardo Zonta held their own today during an eventful qualifying session for the Japanese Grand Prix, the final race of the 1999 FIA Formula One season. After...
Suzuka, October 30, 1999 - British American Racing team drivers Jacques Villeneuve and Ricardo Zonta held their own today during an eventful qualifying session for the Japanese Grand Prix, the final race of the 1999 FIA Formula One season. After struggling in free practice sessions earlier in A world of wheels at Suzuka the day, they fought back to claim 11th and 18th spots respectively on the starting grid for Sunday's race. The morning sessions were problematical for the team. Zonta went out late in the second session, following a spin in the first which had damaged the nose cone and led to a lengthy precau Ricardo Zonta negotiates a hairpin tionary inspection. As well, Villeneuve's car developed a problem with the CV joints on the driveshaft, sidelining him for the latter part of the morning.
Those problems behind them, both drivers were charging hard the deeper they went into qualifying in the afternoon.
The McLaren and Ferrari teams, battling for the Driver and Constructor championships, continued their season-long war on the unique Suzuka circuit. After Ferrari's Michael Schumacher and McLaren's Mika Hakkinen registered a dead heat lap of one minute, 38.032 seasonds halfway through the hour-long session, Schumacher went back out and claimed the pole position with a time of 1:37.470. Hakkinen was trying to better that with a minute left in qualifying when he had a minor shunt with Sauber's Jean Alesi.
Ferrari's Eddie Irvine, who leads the Driver standings by four points over defending champion Hakkinen, could only qualify in fifth place and will need an inspired race by his team-mate to claim the title. With just under eight minutes remaining in qualifying, he crashed at high speed on the Spoon Curve hairpin, knocking both front tyes off the vehicle. He recovered and returned to the track in a spare car after the debris had been cleared.
The stage is set for an exciting finale on Sunday, with the race beginning at 1400 hrs local time on the 5.864 km/3.641 circuit.
JACQUES VILLENEUVE 1:39.732 11th "We had to fight hard today. I wasn't able to do any work with new tyres this morning. Then in qualifying I got yellow flags and traffic on my first and second runs, so I could only really go for it on my last two, and I think we reached the limit of the car. We're only a tenth of a second behind sixth place, but it's frustrating that a tenth can make five positions' difference. This will have a big influence on the race because it
RICARDO ZONTA 1:40.861 18th "This is quite a difficult circuit to set up the car. We improved it a lot from this morning, but not enough to make the times we wanted. I lost my first set of tyres through traffic and got a yellow flag on my last. Our car is good here, though, and I think it should be possible to have a good race on Sunday."
CRAIG POLLOCK, Chairman & CEO, British American Racing "After such an intense qualifying session, it is nice to see so many cars separated only by one tenth of a second, so we cannot be too disappointed with our qualifying positions. Both cars have been reliable today and we could have a good chance for results in the race."
ADRIAN REYNARD, Vice Chairman, British American Racing "We had an inboard CV joint failure on the driveshaft on Jacques' car this morning. We identified the problem and corrected it, but unfortunately we lost the second part of the free practice session in the process. In qualifying, it was good to see the cars running reliably and we feel that we can be strong in the race."