Antonio Pizzonia (22) “I can't wait to get into my Jaguar at Monaco. I have raced there twice in Formula 3000, liked the track an awful lot and know it will be even more fun in a Formula One car. As a race circuit Monaco is unique and there is no way I can compare it to anywhere else. It is a low grip track with lots of bumps and challenges both us drivers and our engineers to the limit. Monaco is where I spend most of my time, especially in the racing season, so I consider this my second home race. I am not alone in this as most of the people I meet on the racetracks during the season are my neighbours. Living in Monaco is not a big advantage in getting to know the track, as the roads are very different when they are open to the public. I usually drive round on my scooter to make sure I know the corners, but you only get the real feel for the track once the barriers are put up. I am delighted to be able to say last year I achieved what people say is very difficult in Monaco - an overtaking manoeuvre in F3000. I was quickest in the first session, lost most of the second session, started seventh and finished fourth. I think one lap qualifying there will be the most exciting of the season and after my good weekend in Austria I am going with hopes of a positive result.”

Q&A session with David Pitchforth, Managing Director

Two race weekends, Barcelona and Austria and two more points, the car is clearly improving?

“You only need to look at the official FIA lap times from Austria to appreciate the clear improvement in both pace and reliability on the R4. Both drivers recorded encouraging times, but Mark in particular inspired us all by recording the third fastest lap only 53 hundredths of a second behind the Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello something we could only have dreamt about last year. The team has been working very hard on reliability and this is starting to pay off. Both cars finished in the top ten in Austria, a first for us this season and hopefully a real sign of times to come".

Monaco is the most glamorous race on the calendar, what does this mean to Jaguar Racing?

“Jaguar has an amazing and inspirational racing heritage. The brand is one that is emotive for both the racing drivers from Sir Jackie Stewart’s days, as well as for those like Mark and Antonio who drive our cars today. Monaco provides a perfect backdrop for Jaguar to showcase its exceptional products both on the track and off and this year our off-track activities are likely to be as exciting as our on-track. We have teamed up with some well-known celebrities and fashion houses to bring the Jaguar brand even closer to the fans. There is no doubt that this race is likely to be one of our most exciting”.

The drivers seem to be spending a lot of time at the factory, are these visits a requirement of them?

“We certainly don’t force either of our drivers to attend the factory, but we are fortunate that they are both interested in spending time both at our factory in Milton Keynes and at the Cosworth Racing engine plant in Northampton. Mark and Antonio know the importance of keeping the team spirit high and there is no doubt that their teamwork is appreciated by all involved with the team. Being able to talk to the drivers away from the track and to get their feedback on factory improvements is as vital as discussing the changes over a race weekend. It is this sort of commitment from the drivers that helps move us up the grid!".

What can we expect to see in Monaco and what makes a racecar competitive on this street-circuit? “Monaco is the tightest circuit on the calendar and thus the risks involved are higher. You need high downforce and a set of tyres that complement the car and I am confident that we will achieve this balance. The factory is well prepared for the weekend in term of spare parts and of course there is no reason for us not to aim for a good qualifying position that would put us in line to receive some more points. I know that both drivers enjoy this circuit and have a good history, a theme that we hope they can continue with us this year”.

Published : 27/05/03 Author : Melanie Carter

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