Gascoyne cautiously upbeat over Benetton B201

BENETTON technical director Mike Gascoyne believes that the new B201 challenger, unveiled in Venice today (Tuesday), will develop into a car capable of challenging for third place in the Championship by the middle of the season.

"I believe we've done a good job mechanically although we're obviously into a whole new area handling the new aerodynamic regulations which have been introduced for the 2001 season, we have a lot of aero developments coming through for the car during the first few races of the year," he said.

"I think that the steps we've taken at Benetton over the last few months are very positive. We have plenty of new resources in place and are initiating am ambitious research and development program. I don't believe the B201 will be as competitive as it could be from the start of the season but it will be when we have incorporated all the aerodynamic modifications."

Gascoyne continued to emphasize how impressed he was with the 111-degree Renault RW21 V10. "You've got to expect some teething problems with any new engine," he said, "and we haven't done as many testing miles as we would have liked. But I think Renault Sport are very impressive operators and everybody here at the team's headquarters at Enstone believes we have the best racing team infrastructure in F1."

The Benetton B201 uses a six-speed longitudinal gearbox to transmit the power, is equipped with pushrod/torsion bar suspension front and rear, and has what Gascoyne claims to be a much "stiffer and lighter" monocoque.

As far as progress with Benetton's new tire supplier Michelin is concerned, he observes; "It's hard to know precisely where we are in terms of progress with all the teams testing with interim tires and working through a wide range of tires. But I think there will be circuits and circumstances where Michelin get it very right this season - and we've got to be in a position where we're the best Michelin runners in order to take advantage of that."

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