The Team The Brazilian Grand Prix dealt a further blow to Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda drivers Jacques Villeneuve and Olivier Panis and provided a further reminder that a tough season lies ahead. Jacques was classified 10th despite retiring on his...
The Brazilian Grand Prix dealt a further blow to Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda drivers Jacques Villeneuve and Olivier Panis and provided a further reminder that a tough season lies ahead. Jacques was classified 10th despite retiring on his penultimate lap with an engine problem. Olivier's run of bad luck continued and a gearbox failure rounded off an unwanted hat-trick of DNFs.
Technical Director Geoffrey Willis has completed his initial review of the team's technical capability and is focusing on improving reliability in the short-term. More importantly, he can now begin to put the building blocks in place for 2003 and beyond.
Olivier and test driver Anthony Davidson completed a comprehensive 3-day test in Valencia last week (2-4 April), where the programme included an exploration of some electronic control and exhaust improvements, a pre-Imola brake evaluation, a Bridgestone tyre test and some general aerodynamic improvements for the next race. The team made good progress across a number of areas and are particularly encouraged to have a further evolution of the Honda engine and an improvement in drivability for the race ahead.
David Richards, Team Principal
"We have established our performance expectations and everybody is aware that we have a long hard climb ahead of us. Building for the future is going to be a slow process. We made some progress with our reliability issues in the Valencia test and Honda have made a further step forward with the engine for Imola. Our main focus for the weekend has to be extracting the maximum potential from our current package."
"Brazil was another disappointing race for us but the team made some progress in the Valencia test. I'm not expecting to see any major improvement in Imola but we seem to be moving in the right direction. The car felt a little better on race day in Brazil so hopefully we can build on that this weekend."
"I like coming to Imola; it's a good track, the people are very passionate and the Italian food is delicious. Like most of the circuits we race at during the season, it is a high downforce track and has an interesting layout. The team have been quite competitive here in the past and it would be nice to fight for some points. I'm looking forward to the race."
"I haven't finished the first three races so I'm going to Imola hoping for a better outcome. My aim is to finish the race so reliability is the most important factor. My other target is to maximise any opportunity we can to get a good result. Again, the work done in Valencia last week was based on our reliability issues and I'm cautiously optimistic that we've taken a step forward in a number of areas. We worked very closely with Honda and improved the drivability of the car so we are making progress."
"It's always good to get back to Europe after the first three long-haul races. Imola is a great circuit to kick-off the European season and once again we run anti-clockwise like in Brazil. The track is interesting and the atmosphere is quite thrilling."
Race Distance - 62 Laps. 189.897 miles (305.609 km)
Circuit Length - 3.065 miles (4.933 km)
Race Start - 14.00 local time (13.00BST)
The arrival of the Grand Prix teams in Imola marks the start of Formula One' s European season. Located in Tuscan woodland 20 miles south-east of Bologna, the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari was first used in 1950. Through the years, as a venue for both San Marino and Italian GPs, it has gained a reputation as a fast, wide-open circuit with some truly daunting corners. Following the tragic deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger in 1994 however, the straights were shortened and punctuated by chicanes. As the nature of the circuit changed, so chassis set-up priorities shifted from low downforce to maximise straight-line speed, to higher levels of downforce to keep cornering speeds up.
Despite the modifications, Imola remains an interesting circuit for the drivers. The straights aren't so long that they place an absolute premium on outright power, while the chicanes and bumpy track surface demand good handling characteristics. Along with Interlagos, Imola also holds the distinction of being made one of only two anti-clockwise circuits during the year.