EVENTFUL DAY FOR STEWART-FORD IN BARCELONA TEST Barcelona, Spain. Saturday 20th February 1999: The last day of the Stewart-Ford team's final pre-season test in Barcelona produced mixed fortunes today. Rubens Barrichello recorded the second ...
EVENTFUL DAY FOR STEWART-FORD IN BARCELONA TEST
Barcelona, Spain. Saturday 20th February 1999: The last day of the Stewart-Ford team's final pre-season test in Barcelona produced mixed fortunes today.
Rubens Barrichello recorded the second fastest time of the day while earlier team-mate Johnny Herbert emerged unscathed from a high speed crash.
Barrichello was restricted to just 18 laps due to problems with the electronics of the car but still managed a time of 1:21.14 to round off an encouraging test for the team. His time was only bettered by Jarno Trulli in a Prost (1:21.09) but he outstripped the Jordans of Heinz- Harald Frentzen (1:21.38) and Damon Hill (1:21.54) who had set the pace earlier in the day, and the two McLarens of Mika Hakkinen (1:22.09) and David Coulthard (1:22.26).
Barrichello's performance represented a change of luck following Herbert's mishap in the morning.
'I'm just glad Johnny is ok', Barrichello said. 'I was watching from the pit wall and it was a big impact. As far as my performance is concerned, we spent most of the day trying to fix a throttle problem. When we eventually got to run we tried a couple of sets of tyres and produced a good time. There is no doubt the car has great potential. What we need to work on now is reliability.'
Herbert, on a flying lap, had just crossed the start-finish line when the car veered left and struck the wall on the Circuit de Catalunya's main straight.
Herbert said: 'I don't remember a lot about it but all I know is that the car went left at very high speed. I recall the first impact then opened my eyes again to see the wall in front of me. To have an accident of that kind at that speed, probably over 300kmh, and walk away, is a testament to the design of the modern Formula One car.'
Though the damage to the car was extensive, Herbert was unhurt. 'All I got was a slight bump on the knee but other than that I'm fine,' he said. 'It ended what has been a pretty eventful test for the team overall.'
Herbert had completed just 15 laps before the incident. The team is still investigating the cause of the accident.
Jackie Stewart, who was also looking on from the pit wall, said: 'We all recognise that a high-speed accident such as this is not uncommon in pre-season testing. What it does demonstrate is that the safety elements in today's Formula One both for the car and the driver work very well indeed. I would like to add that the marshals at the circuit responded quickly and effectively.'
'In general the test has been promising. The chassis is competitive and we have impressive power from the engine but like with any new chassis-engine package at the start of a season, there are certain issues still to be resolved.'
During the course of the two days the team tried some aerodynamic modifications and carried out tyre evaluation in preparation for Melbourne. The team returns to England today to prepare for the journey to Melbourne.