San Marino GP BMW preview

The San Marino Grand Prix signifies the start of the Formula One season proper. Australia and Brazil were the hors d'oeuvres - the once-a-fortnight grind of the European 'season' is where the foundations of a championship pattern are constructed.

The San Marino Grand Prix signifies the start of the Formula One season proper. Australia and Brazil were the hors d'oeuvres - the once-a-fortnight grind of the European 'season' is where the foundations of a championship pattern are constructed. Or destroyed. The 2.65-mile (4.933 km) track is fast, with average lap speeds of over130mph (210 km/h) and thanks to the ever-present 'tifosi', its atmosphere is electric.

For the BMW WilliamsF1 Team, the season has begun well, with the team placed joint-third in the Constructor Championship standings and Ralf Schumacher also sharing third place in the Drivers' Championship. The Brazilian Grand Prix saw Ralf and Jenson Button cross the finish line in 6th and 7th place respectively, but both drivers were promoted a place because of David Coulthard's disqualification from second place, making Jenson the youngest ever driver to score a World Championship point. Both Ralf and Jenson are aiming to keep up the momentum in San Marino and after a productive test session at Silverstone last week, the mood in the BMW WilliamsF1 Team camp is upbeat as Imola beckons.

Frank Williams (WilliamsF1 Team Principal)

"Both Ralf and Jenson have performed strongly in the opening two races and we aim to carry that momentum forward to Imola. As in Melbourne, Brazil gifted us with more points and given the early stage of our partnership and development, we are very encouraged with the way the season has begun for us."

Dr Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director)

"Our recent performances in Australia and Brazil have helped take our team spirit to even higher levels. We have completed more race miles than any other team and out of four possible finishes, we have recorded three. Nonetheless, our testing commitment is focused upon achieving reliability an area that we are looking to strengthen on the V10 engine. After having analysed Jenson's Melbourne car, we have discovered a link between his engine failure and the one that we experienced during Free Practice in Sao Paulo. Over the past ten days, we have put great effort into pinpointing this problem and we hope to avoid a repeat in San Marino."

Ralf Schumacher

"After our strong performances in Melbourne and Sao Paulo, I am looking forward to Imola. I must say that I am really enjoying driving the FW22, especially in Melbourne. Last week, we had two test days at Silverstone in an effort to prepare for Imola and the British Grand Prix. Imola is characterised by long straights and slow corners, which means the brakes are punished in a very hard way. Apart form the brakes, acceleration especially out of Tosa, Acque Minerali and Traguardo is really important. A good place for overtaking is Tosa. Last year I was 9th in qualifying, but retired on the 28th lap while in 4th place because of a fire in the airbox. This year I hope to see the chequered flag with the BMW WilliamsF1 Team."

Jenson Button

"The BMW WilliamsF1 Team has got off to a very good start. Both cars ran strongly at Interlagos and given how demanding that circuit is, our performance is testament to the team's hard work and experience. Scoring my first ever point is great, but the most satisfying part was the fact that I finished the race. Like any driver, I'd like to earn my points through driving and not through other people's misfortune. After a good test at Silverstone last week, we are now firmly focused upon the job at hand in Imola. Again, this is another track that is unfamiliar to me, but one that I am really looking forward to. Balance and grip are important on the San Marino circuit and given the passionate 'tifosi' it's an experience that I am relishing."

The 62-lap San Marino Grand Prix gets underway at 12:00 GMT on Sunday 9th April. A total race distance of 189.47 miles (305.609 km) will be covered at the circuit where Heinz-Harald Frentzen holds the lap record of 1m30.585s in a WilliamsF1 FW19.

In 1999, McLaren-Mercedes' Mika Hdkkinen was in a commanding lead ahead of Michael Schumacher, but an unforced error from Mika resulted in Schumacher winning for Ferrari, - the first time the Prancing Horse had won at Imola for 17 years. David Coulthard finished the race in second place for McLaren-Mercedes and Rubens Barrichello grabbed third spot for Stewart-Ford.

<pre> Ralf Schumacher - car no. 9 Jenson Button - car no. 10

Nationality German British Born 30 June 1975 - H|rth, (Germany) 19 January 1980,Frome (UK) Marital status single single Lives Monte Carlo Bicester, Oxfordshire (UK) Height 1,78 m 1,82 m Weight 73 kg 74 kg F1 debut 1997, Melbourne, Australia 2000, Melbourne, Australia

Best qualifying 3rd : 1997 France (Magny-Cours) - Best GP finish 2nd: 1998 Belgium, 1999 Italy - GP starts 51 2 Points 68 1 Fastest laps 1 0

2000 FIA F1 Championship

Qualifying Race Qualifying Race

Australia 11th 3rd 21st DNF Brazil 11th 5th 9th 6th

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jenson Button , Ralf Schumacher , Michael Schumacher , Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Rubens Barrichello , David Coulthard , Frank Williams , Mario Theissen
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren , Williams