It was a disappointing day in Spain for Jaguar Racing, and there was no way of hiding the fact that the R1s were not quick enough on race day. Eddie Irvine came home 11th, while a late 'splash-and-dash' fuel stop dropped Johnny Herbert from 12th...
It was a disappointing day in Spain for Jaguar Racing, and there was no way of hiding the fact that the R1s were not quick enough on race day. Eddie Irvine came home 11th, while a late 'splash-and-dash' fuel stop dropped Johnny Herbert from 12th to 13th.
Once again problems with the clutch handicapped both drivers at the start. Both had gained place when Pedro de la Rosa was put to the back of the grid for a technical infringement, so Eddie was ninth on the grid and Johnny 14th. But when the lights went out they struggled to get off the line cleanly. Irvine lost three places, and Herbert one. Eddie's task was made harder when, at the start of the second lap, he lost another spot as Jos Verstappen charged past at the first corner.
After that, it was hard slog to the flag at a circuit known for its lack of overtaking places. For a while the two green cars were separated by Alex Wurz's Benetton, but after the first stops the Austrian got ahead of Irvine. For the remainder of the race the Jaguars ran in team formation, with Eddie 13th and Johnny 14th. The late retirement of Jenson Button’s Williams moved Eddie up a spot.
The good news was that for the third race running both cars made it to the finish. Reliability issues are definitely under control, and now it’s time for some urgent development work.
"The good news is they finished," said team boss Neil Ressler. "The bad news is that we weren't fast enough. It looks like the reliability issues pretty much behind us, and we have to concentrate on getting speed back. We're just not quick enough. The guys drove them as fast as they'd go, but they just wouldn't go fast enough. We'll be focusing more attention on that starting on Monday morning.
"I think the development of the car is certainly behind schedule, and we'll be trying some things on the car at Jerez this week. It's not that we're miles back, especially in qualifying."
Despite the disappointing race, Eddie remained upbeat. "We've just got to tidy the whole thing up," he said. "Nothing other than hard work is going to cure it. There's no magical cure. We've just got to keep plugging away and look at it logically.
"I made another atrocious start. I've only made one good one this year, and that was in Brazil. That was really lucky because I nearly stalled it. Normally, I either stall or light the rear wheels up - there's no in between. Today, I lit the rear tyres up again and sat there going nowhere. There are ways to make better starts, and we haven't got them yet.
"At a circuit like this, where there is little chance to overtake, that was virtually race over. The initial reaction at the start was good, but then I got bogged down. I don't really understand it, but that's where we've got to concentrate our efforts."
Technical director Gary Anderson is only too aware of the job to come. "Again, Eddie's start was bad, and then after that it was a procession. There's no overtaking really at Barcelona. We have to fix our problem - you can't afford to lose places. From Jacques Villeneuve back, everyone was doing the same lap times in the first stint. Jerez should be a good test for us, so let's see what happens."