BAR bounces back

British American Racing has enjoyed a slight improvement in fortune after a difficult British Grand Prix. Suggestions that lead driver Jacques Villeneuve might not take the start in Spain due to a persistent injury were refuted by the team, who claimed that much useful set-up work had been carried out at the Circuit de Catalunya last week

BAR bounces back

Regular drivers Ricardo Zonta and Villeneuve both got time in the car, and test driver Patrick Lemarie stepped in when Villeneuve was required to seek help from his physiotherapist over the back injury he sustained in the Brazilian Grand Prix.

The majority of the drivers' time was spent working on chassis settings and tyre evaluation for the upcoming Spanish Grand Prix, although Lemarie carried out engine and chassis development work for Honda on Wednesday morning.

"We covered a lot of miles in this test, which is good," said Zonta, who appears to be suffering no ill-effects from his massive testing shunt at Silverstone before the British Grand Prix.

"We improved some things and found a good direction for our chassis set-up," he continued. "It was also useful to run in the rain, as we have been able to work on both wet and dry settings at this test. The fuel load makes a big difference to lap times here so it's quite difficult to know how the times compare. I think we will improve our performance once we get to the race weekend, so we should be in good shape."

Andrew Alsworth, BAR's testing manager was similarly upbeat.

"We've been able to run from 9am to 6pm, which is perfect from a testing standpoint since we've been able to accumulate some really useful mileage. We're quite happy with the work that has been done, and there was the added bonus that we were able to do some running in the rain. We could easily have a wet race on Sunday and the knowledge gained here could well come in handy. I also have to say that Patrick impressed us in his first real run in the car. He did a good job, gave informative feedback and set a competitive time."

"I feel we've made good progress in a number of areas, including gearbox reliability," added the team's technical director Malcolm Oastler, who was nonetheless circumspect about the chances of the team in the forthcoming Spanish Grand Prix.

"The problem hasn't gone away completely, but we believe we have it under control," he admitted, referring to the problems that stopped both cars finishing in the British GP.

"Thursday was particularly useful and we got some good work under our belt. There will be improvements to the car for the Spanish Grand Prix that weren't incorporated for this test, so we should be in as good shape performance-wise as we were at Silverstone, if not better."

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