What began as a promising weekend turned into something very different this afternoon as Jaguar Racing drivers Eddie Irvine and Pedro de la Rosa took to the track for qualifying at Indianapolis. Both drivers struggled severely with a lack of grip and even though the track temperature was higher for qualifying compared to this morning, Eddie inexplicably found himself to be almost seven tenths slower in qualifying compared to the morning warm-up session. Given the rise in track temperature, the team had every right to expect an improvement on this morning’s warm-up times and simply put, it appears that the Jaguar R3 didn’t extract the best from the Michelin rubber. Eddie and Pedro line up for tomorrow’s U.S. Grand Prix in 13th and 17th positions respectively and subsequently the team’s hopes of scoring championship points for the third consecutive race are much reduced, albeit far from impossible.
Niki Lauda – CEO and Team Principal
"To say that we are disappointed is a gross understatement. The words ‘surprised’ and ‘shocked’ also come to mind and until we conduct a thorough review of our performance, it is difficult at this stage to understand why we have lost so much grip compared to the running we did yesterday and earlier this morning. Eddie, for example, is almost seven tenths slower compared to the morning warm-up session and taking into consideration the rise in track temperature that normally helps generate more grip, we are at a loss to understand the reasons for today’s disappointing performance. I can only assume at this stage that we have not extracted the best from the tyres and while a points challenge is now very tough, we must focus on getting the two Jaguars across the finishing line tomorrow. As we have seen so many times in the past, reliability can generate rewards and in fact, Eddie finished 5th last year from a starting position of 14th on the grid. Nothing is impossible but we could have done with not making our lives this difficult."
Eddie Irvine Position: 13th Best time: 1:12.282 Chassis: R3-05 "What a shock! I realised we had problems at the first corner of my first timed lap. As I braked, I lost grip, ran wide and decided to abort the lap. The car was sliding around all over the place and was quite a handful to drive. It was twitchy, unforgiving and simply put, a very different car to the one I drove this morning when I managed a lap time of 1m.11.688s – seven tenths faster than my qualifying time. Having made some changes to the set-up, we stuck a new set of tyres on the car and began the second timed lap. Again, nothing appeared to have changed and once you lose confidence in grip levels, it becomes very hard indeed to approach corners in an aggressive manner. We simply went outside of our tyre window today, but nonetheless, we will be aiming to take full advantage of the Jaguar R3 in race trim tomorrow. I started even further back last year and through a combination of reliability and clever race strategy, we finished in the points."
Pedro de la Rosa Position: 17th Best time: 1:12.739 Chassis: R3-06 T-Car: R3-03 "Eddie’s words pretty much sum up my problem too. It was like driving on an ice rink out there and given how good the grip levels were this morning, I cannot believe we have gone backwards in qualifying. The increase in track temperature should have given us better grip levels but instead, it got worse. The car was sliding around under braking, through the corners and to be completely honest, it doesn’t make any sense to me. There is nothing more to add than this. We now have a tough race ahead of us and we’ll do our utmost to take something away from what has been a very strange weekend so far."Published 28 September 2002