'Staying ahead of Schumi was easy'

Jacques Villeneuve has said that he felt it was not difficult to keep double world champion Michael Schumacher behind him in Sunday's British Grand Prix.

'Staying ahead of Schumi was easy'

The BAR star ran fifth for much of the race, until a suspected hydraulic problem led to his retirement on lap 56.

"I made a good start and was surprised how easy it was to stay ahead of Michael," said Jacques, who beat Schumacher to the 1997 drivers' title.

"Apart from the first lap, he didn't really have a chance to come by," added Villeneuve.

Speaking of the team, he said "we have been competitive this weekend and I'm very happy with the progress Honda has made with the engine. What's slowing us down is the chassis and the need for better aerodynamic performance."

Villeneuve's retirement suggests that the team has not fully cured the unreliability problems that blighted it last season - despite both cars finishing in the points on its 2000 season debut. Team mate Ricardo Zonta also retired from the race.

"The car was jumping out of gear for several laps before I came in and then the transmission just packed up," Villeneuve explained.

"I'm very unhappy because we threw away a point today that could turn out to be valuable at the end of the season."

"We had a lot of people from the factory here cheering us on and I wish we could have achieved a result today that would have rewarded all their hard work," said team boss Craig Pollock.

"Unfortunately, it wasn't progress today - more a regression," he added. "We knew Jacques had a problem with the gearbox about five laps before he retired, but were hoping he could hang on to the finish. Ricardo was going faster and faster in the race - his progress was spectacular - and I think perhaps he was just caught out by his own speed.

"It was good to see him respond to the huge accident he had here in testing just over a week ago, however, with such a strong performance." Zonta had a suspension failure at 180mph at Stowe corner in pre-race testing and his car vaulted a fence.

"Jacques drove a very good race to hold off Michael Schumacher," said Honda's R&D boss Takefumi Hosaka.

"We are taking things little by little and have a strong base to build on for further improvements. Other teams are working very hard and we need to work even harder. It was unfortunate that we were not able to show the full potential of our new engine today."


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