Herbert: "It was real racing out there" Last year great tyre strategy helped Johnny Herbert to win the European GP at the Nurburgring. In the first US GP at Indianapolis a similar decision nearly earned Johnny his first points of the year. The...
Herbert: "It was real racing out there" Last year great tyre strategy helped Johnny Herbert to win the European GP at the Nurburgring. In the first US GP at Indianapolis a similar decision nearly earned Johnny his first points of the year.
The race started on a damp track, and Johnny was the only driver to gamble on taking slicks. In the early laps he struggled through the wet infield, but then as the track dried he moved up the order. When others pitted for dry rubber, Johnny continued to gain positions, and was able to hold his own with the cars that had switched to slicks. Indeed he was able to pass the Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello and the BAR of Jacques Villeneuve in spectacular fashion to get as high as fifth place on lap 26.
At that point he made a stop for fuel and new tyres, and everything went wrong for him. The pitlane was still damp, and Johnny slid a little too far. He damaged his front wing, and by the time it was replaced he had lost over 20 seconds. By the time he re-emerged, he had tumbled to 17th. From there he plugged away to finish a frustrated 11th.
"It was the right decision on tyres, but I can't believe the pit stop. I came in such a little amount over, and from what they said there was a puddle, and I hit it. That was the thing that put me off. Unfortunately it wasn't just missing the stop, but it actually damaged the front wing, and then I lost all my time because of that. I must have been half a kilometre too fast in the pits when I hit that puddle, and that was just enough to push it off line. It's just damn annoying because we did a good strategy, the pace was good during the race, but I haven't got anything."
During his first flying stint Johnny enjoyed some great battles, and on one occasion ran wheel to wheel with Pedro Diniz around the first corner. They touched briefly, but nothing untoward occurred.
"It was racing, and it was good racing, and that's what was so great about it. There was racing and there was passing going on. But it's just annoying that when you do all that and choose the right tyre and you make a tiny mistake in the stop. It was basically a good showing and a good decision on my part, but at the end of the day it's a bit of a shame."
At least Johnny had done a lot to boost his reputation in the very country in which he plans to race next year. “Yes, but I suppose it's not the race to make a mistake in the pits! But I don't do it very often.”
Nevertheless, Johnny had thoroughly enjoyed his trip to the States, and was impressed with the way the event passed with no major dramas. "There were no problems at all. The only thing that's not as nice on the track is Turn 9 and 10, but other than that it's okay. It's been a good weekend, and the race itself from what I saw was good for everybody watching as well. I can't wait to come back next year for the 500!"
Irvine: "I thought the way we responded as a team really deserved a point today" In many ways, Indianapolis was one of the most exciting and eventful races of the year for Jaguar Racing. After announcing the appointment of Bobby Rahal as CEO, the team suffered a tough couple of days on the track. But things turned around on race day, when Eddie Irvine and Johnny Herbert were more competitive than they had been all weekend.
In the early stages, the man on the move was Johnny Herbert. Starting from 19th on the grid, he opted for grooved tyres over wets and quickly scythed his way through the field into a solid sixth position. It was a virtuoso performance, but ended when he slid into a wheel gun in the pitlane and needed a new front wing on his R1. The change lost valuable time and he eventually finished in 11th place.
Eddie Irvine also ran strongly in the race, finishing just out of the points in seventh. "This was much better than I expected considering I qualified 17th," said Eddie. "We've had a couple of seventh place finishes as a team now which leaves a bit of an empty feeling - one place away from points. I was able to run at a good pace during the race, better than our qualifying pace, which probably suggests that the tyres were not giving us a clear picture on set-up during practice. The car developed a bit of understeer on the second set of tyres, which was the difference between seventh and a championship point. I thought the way we responded as a team after a difficult first two days deserved a point today."
Gary Anderson, the team's technical boss, said he was relatively happy with the result. "It was a pleasing end to the weekend after a troubled start. We were desperately unlucky with Johnny. We decided to start him on grooved tyres, which worked in our favour when it stayed dry but unfortunately the car slid a little under braking on the entry to the pit box, hit a wheel gun and damaged the nose. That cost us 20 seconds and the chance of a solid points finish. In the early stages of the race he was the second fastest car on the track. Eddie drove a good race but ended up one place shy of the points. It was an exciting race to be a part of and a great start to Formula One's return to the US. Judging by the crowd involvement, they enjoyed the show."