Sir Frank predicts tough 2000

Sir Frank Williams is predicting a tough season as his team prepares for the opening race of 2000

Sir Frank predicts tough 2000

The BMW-powered team claims this weekend's Australian Grand Prix will mark the beginning of the outfit's transitional season.

Ralf Schumacher and Jenson Button - Britain's youngest ever F1 driver - will pilot the racecars this season.

Williams said: "Ralf drove brilliantly in Melbourne last year to finish in third place, but this season's opener will be harder for us.

"Jenson has done a great job for us in testing over the past few weeks and has learned a great deal.

"It will be a tough season for us all and we are under no illusions about what's ahead of us."

BMW motorsport director Gerhard Berger is hoping the German marque's success at last year Le Mans 24 Hours will rub-off on its Williams partnership.

"In a few days from now, a new era will begin for BMW," said the ex-Formula 1 race winner.

"After an absence of 12 years, we are very excited and proud to accept the challenge of once again making a global commitment to Formula 1.

"We will, however, need time to learn and we must not push our expectations too far in what is the first of a five-year partnership with WilliamsF1.

"If we qualify strongly in the midfield, we will have reached our first target. There are many areas of development between the two companies and our climb to the top will take time.

"The partnership proved last year with the Le Mans victory that it knows what is required at the highest level of motor racing."

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