Imola, Friday April 30 1999 - British American Racing started the San Marino Grand Prix in Imola on a positive note today with Jacques Villeneuve emerging from free practice in eighth position overall. As well, Mika Salo, replacing injured driver...
Imola, Friday April 30 1999 - British American Racing started the San Marino Grand Prix in Imola on a positive note today with Jacques Villeneuve emerging from free practice in eighth position overall. As well, Mika Salo, replacing injured driver Ricardo Zonta for the weekend event, posted a promising 14th position in his second-ever outing in the British American Racing-Supertec 01 car.
Mika Hakkinen of McLaren-Mercedes was first on the day with a best lap of one minute, 28.467 seconds, just ahead of teammate David Coulthard of Scotland in 1:28.605. Third best on the day was Ferrari's Eddie Irvine, in a time of 1:29.046.
Both Villeneuve and Salo turned in their best times in the second hour-long practice session, and both satisfactorily "ran in" their cars with 24 and 23 laps respectively on the day.
The San Marino Grand Prix, the curtain-raiser of the European portion of the 1999 FIA Formula One season, runs Sunday afternoon on the Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit at Imola. The 4.927-km track, reputed for years as a wide-open circuit with some truly daunting corners,has been altered in recent years so that straights are shorter and punctuated by chicanes. Set-up priorities have shifted from low downforce and high speed, to higher downforce to maintain high cornering speeds.
Jacques Villeneuve - 1:29.765 (8th) "We've started well. It's a lot better than the last Grand Prix so we are going to try and keep it up. The car seemed to work well right away and the speed is a lot better. I was quite happy with the set-up we found and the balance of the car is pretty good. We are up where we should be fighting. But, let's wait until Saturday."
Mika Salo - 1:30.569 (14th) "Everything went fine today except for a problem with the fuel pressure. I don't think it's going to be a big problem Saturday, in fact I think we will be very quick. I think there is a possibility that we will be in top 10."
Craig Pollock, Managing Director, British American Racing "Coming out of Brazil, where the whole team deserved to feel a little bit down, today has been a fantastic uplift because it's proof that the hard work that has been put in since the last Grand Prix is paying off and the speed that we did lack in Brazil is coming back. Jacques has done a great job with Jock Clear and the team. I think that Mika, coming in for the first time, has been hampered by mechanical problems with the car. In spite of this he turned in a great time in his first session with us."