Saturday: Free-Practice: I entered the garage at 9:00, before the 9:30 session. RB was there in jeans and Marlboro shirt. RB poses for some photographers as they come by. There are a lot more sponsor people wandering around (mostly SASOL ...
I entered the garage at 9:00, before the 9:30 session. RB was there in jeans and Marlboro shirt. RB poses for some photographers as they come by. There are a lot more sponsor people wandering around (mostly SASOL guests) than on Friday. RB's mechanics are busy changing the front dampers and building-up a new (Monaco style) rear wing. Not much happening with EI's car, its quite clear that he is the number 2 driver on the team. Murray Walker drops in at about 9:05 and talks with Eddie Jordan and Gary Anderson. 9:14 - EI's mechanics fire-up the car and warm the engine (4000 rpm with blips to 6000-7000 rpm). 9:17 - RB's mechanics warm the engine. RB comes back out wearing nomex. RB looks pretty relaxed as he sneeks up behind one of the mechanics and gives him a big bearhug and lifts him off the ground. 9:22 - EI comes out wearing his nomex and carying his helmut. EI checks out the new openings in the airbox and cowling. 9:29 - TV GLOBO guy comes by to shoot RB beside and in his car. 9:30 - EI out on tires 05,06,07,08. 9:31 - RB out on tires 01,02,03,04. 9:34 - EI in. Looks like he's have a problem with the car as he stops the car in very jerky manner in front of the garage entrance. The mechanics quickly go to work on the clutch. They replaced the fluid and bled the lines. 9:37 - RB in. Change to the "Monaco" rear wing. 9:40 - RB out on tires 13,14,15,16. 9:41 - EI out, still on tires 05,06,07,08. 9:44 - Katayama has a *major* engine failure (ala Peugeot :-)) and drops a long strip of oil on the lead-up to the new chicane. The session is halted and everyone returns to the pits while the safety crew cleans up the mess. RB gets out of his car immediately while EI elects to stay in the cockpit and watch the monitor. 10:10 - The track is re-opened. 10:14 - RB out on tires 13,14,15,16. 10:20 - RB in. Rear wing adjustment. 10:46 - RB out on tires 05,06,07,08. 10:48 - EI out on tires 01,02,03,04. With both drivers out, everyone is huddled around the monitors, checking out how the boys are doing. EI rips a lap in the 1:27s and leaps into second fastest (at the time) of the session, behind Alesi. Everybody cracked a _big_ smile and gestured to each other as if to say ALL RIGHT!!. 10:56 - RB in, having used up the allowed 23 laps, 9th fastest. 10:58 - EI in, also having used up his 23 laps, 5th fastest.
Final Qualifying: I walked in at 12:30, before the 13:00 session and noticed that RB's car now had the small rear mounted again. I asked on of the mechanics about the change and he half joked "We've got to find some speed somehow!". I started talking with one of the Hart guys, Neil Roper (a really nice guy BTW), initially to get his views on the pump fuel issue. He said that the Hart 10-35 was designed around pump fuel (unlike many of the Big teams) so the new rule was no big deal for them. He told me that for the next GP they will be allowed certain fuel additives that will keep things running cooler and thus eliminate the vapour lock problems they've been experiencing this weekend. Believe it or not, only 25 people are employed at Hart F1 engineering!! Neil attributed the great reliability of the Hart engine to the fact with their small budget they can't afford to blow many motors. I asked him if he was working for Hart back in the Toleman days, he replied, with a big grin on his face, "Yup.....We sure blew a few motors back then, didn't we?!".
12:58 - RB comes into the garage with his usual grin and singing some song I didn't recognise. RB always seems to be relaxed. 13:01 - EI comes out from the back and heads staight for the cockpit and gets in. 13:05 - RB out on tires 09,10,11,12. 13:06 - EI out on tires 17,18,19,20. 13:13 - RB and EI come in almost simultaneously. No changes to RB's car. Front damper adjustment to EI's car. 13:23 - EI out on tires 22,21,23,24. 13:25 - RB out on tires 09,10,11,12. 13:30 - EI in. No changes to his car. 13:37 - RB in, having completed the maximum 12 laps. 13:38 - EI is off jacks and about to pull out when the head FIA official, Michel Lapraet (sp ?) steps in front of him and motions EI to cut the engine. Car 15 had been selected for a random fuel sampling (couldn't have anything to do with EI's performance in the morning free practice, could it??? :-)). The mechanics scramble to get the car back up on the jacks and put the tire warmers back on. EI, and the rest of the team, look really pissed. One mechanic rushes out from the back with a manual pump and starts extracting the fuel into 3 one-litre metal canisters. The fuel containers were then sealed and labelled. The mechanic who pumped the fuel out got to choose one of the three containers for the team to keep. The other 2 containers are kept by FIA for future testing. 13:40 - EI out on tires 25,26,27,28. Eddie Jordan comes over to talk with Mr. Lapraet and is very concerned about the labelling of the fuel samples. He wants to be *absolutely* certain that it is *impossible* for the labels on his fuels to find their way onto another set of containers. 13:47 - EI in, completing his 12 laps. 14:00 - Qualifying is over, RB 6th and EI 8th on the grid. Eddie Jordan is pumped and yells "YES, WE BEAT MCLAREN!!" No time to celebrate for the mechanics though, as they start tearing both cars down for a fresh motor change.
One more installment to come, -- Edward Vale INTERNET: firstname.lastname@example.org Software Engineer, CAD/CAM Technology de Havilland Inc. OFFICE: (416) 375-3084 Garratt Boulevard MS N02-10 FAX: (416) 375-4511 Downsview, Ontario CANADA M3K 1Y5