Stewart-Ford Monaco GP Preview

The Stewart-Ford team completed two days of testing at the Nogaro circuit in southern France. Both Rubens and Johnny gained valuable mileage on the tight, twisty track layout in preparation for the streets of Monte Carlo. Both drivers produced...

The Stewart-Ford team completed two days of testing at the Nogaro circuit in southern France. Both Rubens and Johnny gained valuable mileage on the tight, twisty track layout in preparation for the streets of Monte Carlo. Both drivers produced competitive lap times and saw the test as a major step forward in terms of engine reliability. They also had the chance for tyre evaluation and to test aerodynamic modifications. Rubens' best finish at Monaco was second in 1997 - the Stewart-Ford team's first year of competition. Johnny's highest finish was third in 1996 at the wheel of a Sauber-Ford.

RUBENS BARRICHELLO Car No.16 (SF3-04) 'I am very enthusiastic about my 100th grand prix. The fact that it is happening in Monaco makes it extra special. Obviously Brazil would be first choice for my 100th grand prix but Monaco is not a bad second choice at all. It will be an emotional time, my family will be there, but the professional side of me will ensure I treat it like any other race. We proved a lot in Imola but we are still keeping our feet on the ground. I'm delighted that I have a car which I really believe will give me the best chance of winning I have had in the six years I have been in Formula One. There is no doubt that this will be the best season I have had in F1. It's nice to know that we are going into races knowing that we will be very competitive. As a circuit, Monaco has a few strange characteristics and is very demanding for both car and driver. I'm confident the car will go well because it has all the ingredients needed for Monaco - good traction, good torque from the engine and a good balance. The Nogaro test was beneficial because the circuit is very tight, like Monaco and the car performed well in Monaco-style trim. I'm sure the gap between us and the front-runners will be reduced in Monaco.'

JOHNNY HERBERT Car No.17 (SF3-05) 'Race day in Monaco, if the weather is good is the most exciting day on the Formula One calendar with the international stars, the boat parties, all the glitz and glamour - the whole of the principality comes out to play. As a driver, the circuit is the biggest challenge in F1 because you are racing in between barriers on a street layout with little room for error. There is always an extra buzz in qualifying because you are striving to get the very best out of the car in a short space of time on a tricky circuit. The race is very demanding physically for a driver. It usually lasts for two hours and you are very busy in the cockpit all the time. I am looking forward to the weekend, particularly after we've just had such a positive test. We got through some valuable work in Nogaro and we should be able to keep the momentum going from the first three races of the season.'

PAUL STEWART, SGP Deputy Chairman 'We are approaching Monaco in very confident fashion given our performances so far this season. We have made some improvements in the area of aerodynamics specifically for Monaco and we believe that both Rubens and Johnny have chances of qualifying in the top six. The pre-Monaco test at Nogaro, a slow speed, high downforce circuit, was very successful from a performance and reliability point of view. Both drivers were on the pace over the two days and Johnny completed some valuable development work on the engine. We are delighted that Rubens will compete in his 100th grand prix with the Stewart-Ford team. It will be nice to mark the occasion with a great result on Sunday.'

MARTIN WHITAKER, Director, Ford Racing, Europe 'Since Imola we have been testing at Nogaro where we successfully completed the equivalent of a full race distance with a modified engine specification running to the same high rev limit we have been using in qualifying. In addition, we moved forwards with a number of driveability improvements on the engine which will be crucial at Monaco.'

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Series Formula 1
Teams Sauber