Pacific GP Friday practice notes




Schumacher fastest but not satisfied ------------------------------------ Despite being quickest for most of the morning untimed practice session, Michael Schumacher was disappointed with the handling of his Benetton-Renault, the German claimed his car was not very good under braking, which he said was due to the slippery track surface which of course hadn't seen a GP car run in anger for some 18 months. He also complained of a lack of traction and general grip at the rear of his car, which features a newly revised suspension. Johnny Herbert was a distant tenth after spending the session trying different setups.

Williams duo not far behind --------------------------- Damon Hill and David Coulthard were less than half a second slower than by the end of the session and both also whined about the lack of grip from the circuit. Hill moaned about his Williams-Renault FW17B - saying it was like driving a rally car because of the lack of grip, especially after just a few laps on new tires. Coulthard was learning the track this morning, and said it was fun to drive but was concerned about the lack of areas to overtake during the race.

Berger: tired; Alesi: Sick --------------------------- Gerhard Berger was delayed by an engine sensor problem although he said that jet lag this morning was a bigger problem for him after flying his own 'Cessna Citation 3' 17-hours to Japan yesterday. Phew. Jean Alesi has the 'flu and his his V12 engine must not have been feeling too well either as the team planned to swap out the powerplant after the morning session.

Blundell well on with #1 status ------------------------------- Mark Blundell's McLaren-Mercedes for the Pacific GP features a revised setup which looks promising following another test session in Silverstone. Temp/test-driver Jan Magnussen is off to a slow start placing only 15th in his first ever Formula One practice session. Early word is Mika Hakkinen is doing fine following his operation last week but may not be well enough in one-week's time for the Grand Prix of Japan.

Gachot returns to the cockpit ----------------------------- Pacific team co-owner Bertrand Gachot was forced to take to the cockpit after a local Japanese F3000 competitor -- with lots of $$$ -- was unable to secure a "Super (driving) License" from the FIA, the santioning body of Formula One. Gachot only did a couple of laps before sliding off into a sand trap. Teammate Montermini did well considerering he did just three laps this morning to allow Gachot more time behind the wheel of the one car being used today.

Forti drivers here, barely -------------------------- Robert Moreno wasn't sure he was driving until late Thursday when he changed planes enroute to Aida. Originally the team planned to "rent" a drive to a local driver but, again, the FIA refused to issue the needed Super License and Moreno was reinstated. Moreno and teammate Diniz are seeing the Aida circuit for the first time, and admit to being a bit lost as to how to setup the car to balance the oversteer and the constant degradation of the relatively soft Goodyear tires.

Briefly ------- Gachot (Pacific), Jan Magnussen (McLaren), Gianni Morbidelli (Footwork), Aguri Suzuki (Ligier), and Ukyo Katayama (Tyrrell) are all new recruits since the last race (GP of Europe)...It is the first F1 race ever for Danish driver Magnussen...Both Jordan drivers complained of "no grip"...Veteran Aida, Japan racer Heinz-Harald Frentzen noted the circuit is the bumpiest he's ever seen it. He and teammate Boullion are struggling to adjust their cars after arriving with what the Sauber team predicted was the perfect setup. Back to the drawing board, guys... Aguri Suzuki found his Ligier to be "quite nervous" upon his return to the cockpit, and perhaps the car should be a little "nervous" with Aguri at the controls...Taki Inoue was very disappointed to do only eight laps in front of his home crowd when he selected a gear -- the wrong one -- which trashed the gearbox on his Footwork-Hart...Mika Salo lost the Yamaha power in his Tyrrell near the end of the session, which may have cost him a better time as the track is getting faster and faster as more and more rubber is laid down. Tyrrell's Deputy Technical Director Mike Gascoyne admitted the Aida circuit, with its tight, slow corners, brings out the worst in his cars...


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Series Formula 1
Drivers Johnny Herbert , Michael Schumacher , Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Jean Alesi , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen , Jan Magnussen , Gerhard Berger , Mika Salo , Mark Blundell , Damon Hill , Ukyo Katayama , Aguri Suzuki , Taki Inoue , Gianni Morbidelli , Bertrand Gachot
Teams Mercedes , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Benetton , Jordan