It was business as normal as Jaguar Racing took to the track for the last Free Practice sessions of the 2002 Formula One season. Eddie Irvine and Pedro de la Rosa worked through a series of set-up evaluations in the first session followed by tyre comparison work during the second session. A somewhat slippery track welcomed the drivers this morning and both Eddie and Pedro suffered with a lack of rear grip during their first outings on the high downforce Suzuka circuit. As more rubber was laid down, however, the grip levels improved and combined with some aerodynamic modifications made between sessions, both drivers reported an overall improvement with grip by the end of the second session.
Niki Lauda – CEO and Team Principal
"Not an easy circuit to adjust to and as we saw, several drivers suffered from big accidents today. The circuit was quite slippery during the first session but improved considerably over the course of the two sessions. Since we made the significant modifications to the Jaguar R3 at Spa, this is the first real high downforce circuit we have raced at and given the issues we have suffered all year with a lack of downforce, we are expecting a tough weekend ahead at Suzuka. It is always difficult to make comparisons with other teams after Friday Free Practice sessions because of differences in fuel load and tyres. In view of this, the times from today mean very little, relatively speaking. The fuel effect is quite high at this circuit and until the qualifying hour ends tomorrow, it is impossible to say where we are going to start Sunday’s race from. Consolidating the team’s sixth place in the championship is the target for the weekend and with that in mind, we must aim to beat the Honda-powered teams. Overtaking is far from easy at Suzuka and subsequently, qualifying will take on an even bigger significance for us tomorrow."
Eddie Irvine Position: 7th Best time: 1:36.190 Laps: 25 Chassis: R3-05 T-Car: R3-03
"The lap times look impressive but I think we’re in for a hard weekend at this circuit. The first session was quite tough, particularly with a lack of rear grip. I was losing time in places that I normally wouldn’t expect to, but the team made some positive changes to the car in time for the second session. Combined with the better grip levels on track, the car felt much better during the second session, albeit with some brake issues which we are examining. Because of Montoya’s crash in the second session, I missed out on completing my tyre work – something we’ll address tomorrow morning during warm-up. Qualifying well is so important at Suzuka because of the overtaking difficulties and from looking at today’s lap times, I think our group is going to be very tight indeed."
Pedro de la Rosa Position: 8th Best time: 1:36.490 Laps: 36 Chassis: R3-06
"The track was very ‘green’ to begin with and by the beginning of the second session, the car felt completely different. I think everyone was struggling with grip levels in session one but after some set-up changes to the car, the handling and grip improved significantly. What began as a very oversteer-biased car soon turned into something with more rear grip and eventually, biased towards understeer. We achieved everything we had planned to and overall, I am satisfied with today’s performance. The track will undoubtedly be very different tomorrow and it is difficult to predict our qualifying position. Outside of the top three teams, the group seems very closely bunched-up and I think we’re in for a very tight qualifying hour tomorrow."
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