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Editor/Photographer : Mark Charles


August 24 2004


Jaguar Racing departs this week to Spa–Francorchamps (Belgium) to prepare ahead of Sunday’s Formula One Grand Prix. As the 14th race on the calendar the team is keen to continue with their strong reliability on track as well as adding to their Championship points. Spa is a track steeped in history that many drivers view as one of the most exciting tracks to drive a Formula one car on. As a true driver’s circuit, Mark Webber (27), Christian Klien (21) and Bjorn Wirdheim (24) are all excited about getting out on track and testing the R5 through the eau rouge corner on Friday. With development of the R6 well underway, the team are keen to extract as much data from the R5 as possible during the remaining five races.

Driver Preview

Mark Webber (27)

“It’s really good to be heading back to Spa for the next race. This circuit has so much history and it’s a track that I enjoy racing at. I have raced there many times before in lots of different formula, from Ford, F3, F3000 and F1. I was first there in an F1 car with Minardi in 2002. It’s an amazing circuit and the speeds are incredible making driving an F1 car fantastic. I think that the speeds we will be reaching this year will be even greater than in the past and this will surely make watching it for the spectators something special. The weather at this track plays a big part in the weekend and can really keep you busy with your tyre and strategy decisions. Being within the mountains means that we can start the day with a wet track and two hours later it’s hot and dry. Choice of tyres are as always crucial to our overall race weekend so we will be spending a lot of time on Friday getting to grips with these. I understand that they have slightly modified the Bus-stop chicane so it will be interesting to see if this slows us down a bit. I am looking forward to the eau rouge corner in particular, it’s so fast and that’s what makes driving an F1 car through it so much fun”.

Christian Klien (21)

“I have raced at Spa before so this is really good for me going into this race weekend. I was actually there with the Formula Renault European Championship two years ago and I loved it. I remember it well and I am really keen to get back out there and try it in a Formula One car. The track is really challenging and the thing that I think will strike me most are the speeds that we will be reaching in the R5. Not only has it got very high-speed corners, but the track itself if very long at just over 6km. In order for me to understand the track as much as possible before I arrive there I am spending time with my engineers in Milton Keynes and try to see as much data as possible. Since the track is also going to be quite physically demanding I have been training in London with the team physio. Being prepared both physically and mentally is crucial to getting the most out of the car over the weekend. We need some points this weekend and I would love to score my first ones here”.

Björn Wirdheim (24)

“Spa is an amazing track and one that for me holds a lot of passion and history. I first experienced the circuit when I was racing in my first year with F3000. I also tested there quite a lot so I feel quite comfortable with the layout and what to expect. It really is a driver’s circuit, one where the driver can honestly make the difference. Having the mental focus to go through eau rouge at top speed is not for the faint hearted. Although I have never raced there in a Formula One car I am sure that it is going to be an amazing experience if not also a very challenging one. I will be spending most of Friday focusing on the tyres and trying to help the team make a decision ahead of qualifying. I understand from the team that the weather can cause a few problems there so I am keeping my fingers crossed for some dry conditions. Michelin have been strong here in the past so I am keen to see how we do this weekend”.

David Pitchforth

“With only five races to go before the end of the season we have been focusing very hard on making the most of our R5 package and fine tuning the car to ensure that we can capitalise on any points opportunities. We enjoyed a good reliable weekend in Hungary but we need to be scoring points as well as finishing the race. Mark, Christian and Bjorn were all at the factory here in Milton Keynes last week and they seem more motivated then ever and very committed to scoring some points for the team. The R5 continues to have a competitive pace on track and we are pleased with the good relationships that we have with our tyre partners, Michelin and of course our engine provider, Cosworth Racing. Michelin continue to provide us with strong tyre compounds and the engine has proved its reliability over recent races. Looking ahead to this weekend in Spa I am excited about seeing the car on track at this remarkable and exciting circuit. I know that all three drivers know this track and enjoy it so I am sure that we are going to see some fast times and also a strong competitive race on Sunday”.

Technical Preview

Dr Mark Gillan – Head of Vehicle Performance
“This marks a return for us to a track where when we last raced we finished 6th. Since 2002 when we were last there, there have been a few circuit changes but I am not expecting things to be dramatically different. The track requires medium down-force from the car and the balance is all important. Despite the medium down-force you also need quite a bit of front wing due to the ride heights that are set to avoid excessive grounding. The weather will play a large part in the weekend and although we would like a dry weekend, with the mountains surrounding us, there is always some rain to liven things up. There is no doubt that this is one of the fastest tracks on the calendar, I think this is why the drivers love it so much. However, with speed comes attrition so we will be looking to have an error–free weekend and two cars finishing the race on Sunday. The circuit is also quite hard on the tyres, meaning that Michelin will be working with us very closely to ensure that we can produce the best package ahead of qualifying and the race. The R5 has had a slightly modified aero package for this weekend and the engine also continues to be developed and fine-tuned ahead of the remaining races. Looking back briefly to Hungary, we learnt a lot from the race and in particular on tyre-management and will be taking this additional information with us to Spa in the hope that not only will the cars be finishing, but they will be scoring points as they cross the line”.


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