Jaguar delighted with double finish The San Marino GP at Imola marked a turning point for Jaguar Racing as the team recorded its first finish of the season. Seventh and 10th might not be the kind of results that grab the headlines, but in a...
Jaguar delighted with double finish The San Marino GP at Imola marked a turning point for Jaguar Racing as the team recorded its first finish of the season. Seventh and 10th might not be the kind of results that grab the headlines, but in a race of relatively little attrition at the front, the result marked a good base on which to build.
"It's another step, getting two cars home," said Jaguar Cars MD Jonathan Browning. "Now we have to get a few points in the bag."
The whole Jaguar Racing team can draw a lot of satisfaction from a day that saw Eddie battling with close rivals Jordan.
"It's a shame that we didn't get any points, but to get two cars home is a big improvement," said race director Andy Miller. "This is a boost that everyone needs throughout the factory, not just the race team. We're out there to compete for points, and not just worry about finishing races."
After qualifying seventh, Eddie found himself bogged down at the start as he struggled with a clutch with which he is not yet comfortable. He was passed by Jacques Villeneuve and Jarno Trulli, but managed to hang on to eighth by passing Ralf Schumacher. He moved up to seventh when Heinz-Harald Frentzen retired in the opening few laps.
Eddie spent the first part of the race stuck on Trulli's tail, but on lap 24 he experienced a misfire and the car suddenly slowed. Ralf and Mika Salo both snuck by before Eddie responded to an urgent message from the pits and flicked a switch on the dashboard. That cured the problem - although the pitlane rev limiter briefly came on - and for the rest of the race the car ran perfectly. But in terms of track position, the damage had been done: he lost a potential points finish. The later retirements of Ralf and Trulli allowed Eddie back up to an eventual seventh.
Eddie's parents helped him celebrate his 100th race in Formula One "The car was not bad, a lot better than Brazil," said Eddie. "It was a very positive race for us. Trulli was holding me up the whole race - it was nice that a Jordan was holding us up! As soon as he pulled over I was able to go a second a lap quicker.
"Unfortunately, I had a bad start due to a clutch problem, and in this business the start is everything. That certainly cost me some points. But I'm very encouraged. Today was the most fun I've had in a racing car for a long time!"
From 17th on the grid Johnny also made a bad start, and dropped two places. He then spent virtually the whole race between the Benettons of Alexander Wurz and Giancarlo Fisichella, who like Johnny ran a very long first stint followed by a late single stop. Retirements helped Johnny to rise into the top 10, and he remained ahead of Fisichella, who was runner-up in the last race in Brazil. Johnny admitted that his choice of the harder of the two tyre compounds had compromised his whole weekend.
"The start wasn't particularly good," said Johnny. We have a bit of an unreliability problem with the starts, and from what I hear Eddie had the same problem, so we need to look at that. I wasn't too concerned about it, just annoyed that I'd lost a couple of places. I got those back but I got stuck behind Alex Wurz. The good thing is that we both finished, we both got to the end of the race. Now we have time to push ahead and test new developments."
Jaguar Racing chairman Neil Ressler was delighted with the progress the team has made in recent weeks: "It's a big relief to have both cars finish and run so strongly in the race. It confirms that we have made significant progress with reliability. The only way to give evidence that we have made that step forward is on the race track, and we certainly did that today."
The team now heads for Silverstone, where Eddie and Johnny will have a car apiece for a major four-day test.