FEBRUARY 22, 1999
Williams sees off BAR in South Africa
WILLIAMS and British American Racing both had frustrating test sessions at the Kyalami circuit, near Johannesburg, South Africa last week, but engineers on both sides reported that they had learned valuable lessons running in hot temperatures. The Kyalami test was attended by thousands of race fans on each of the five days, despite the fact that only three cars were running.
The lack of cars on the track meant it was never properly cleaned and the circuit was much more slippery than it might have been. This resulted in several off-track excursions, notably for Williams which had to cope with three accidents - two for Alessandro Zanardi and one for Ralf Schumacher. Zanardi had to sit out one day of the test while a nosebox was flown back to England, repaired and returned to South Africa. The team admitted that it had underestimated the need for certain spare parts.
Ralf Schumacher ended up with a total of 116 laps of the track during his five days although he lost most of one day with electrical trouble. He set a best time of 1m21.92s on the last day. Zanardi missed the whole of Monday but still managed to clock up 122 laps with a best of 1m22.03s.
British American Racing had only one car in action and in three days of running Jacques Villeneuve chipped away at his times. He completed 133 laps with a best of 1m24.22s, while Ricardo Zonta took over for the final two days of the test and did 80 laps with a best of 1m25.38s.
The BAR team ran into trouble on the day when Williams was setting its fastest times and so the gap would probably have been closer than it appears.
Having said that, after the test BAR aerodynamicist Willem Toet was spotted en route to the Reynard windtunnel in Indianapolis for some last-minute development work.
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