Testing times in testing for Jaguar Racing's R3
Eddie Irvine and Pedro de La Rosa at the R3 launch (picture Jaguar Cars)
Ever since it was launched and taken to the track, the pace of the all new Formula One R3 has been cause for concern despite Jaguar Racing repeating that the car wasn't in its final configuration and that it shouldn't be judged until the season starts in Melbourne, Australia on March 3rd. Nevertheless, the R3 has been consistently slower than the R2, sometimes by as much as 2 seconds a lap... an eternity in the world of Formula One where One hundredth of a second can make a difference between Pole Position or just second on grid; something World Champion Michael Schumacher learned the hard way at the French Grand Prix last year, and at the hands of his own brother Ralf no less...
When compared to other teams, the same 2 to 3 seconds show up on the time sheets. Winter testing times are not always significant but the fact that cars like new 2002 Sauber have been fast "out of the box" is a clear indication that something is not right on the R3. Sauber, the Swiss team powered by last year Ferrari engine finished 4th in the constructor championship in 2001 despite operating on a budget much smaller than Jaguar's. Other new cars like the McLaren Mercedes have also been fast immediately after their first shake down.
The R3 problems are serious enough that the team cancelled a test session at Barcelona Jan 24th choosing to stop at the French track of Lurcy Lewis instead where a very long straight away allows engineers to run series of test on a car pure speed aerodynamic. A team spokesperson denied that a major revision of the new car is underway but conceeded that it was necessary to first understand the problems experienced with the car's front wing. Newly appointed test driver Andre Lotterer was scheduled to be a the wheel.
The 2002 season is critical for Jaguar as it will be the 3rd season since the team was created after Ford bought the Stewart Racing Team. With the Ford Motors Company facing mounting losses in tougher economic conditions, team boss Niki Lauda's credibility on the line and the new wind tunnel, results must come.. or else...
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