Multiple firsts expected at Imola

THE San Marino Grand Prix, scheduled for April 14, is expected to feature a few firsts. Rubens Barrichello will pilot the new Ferrari F2002 for the first time at Imola, Honda will debut it's newest evolution engine, and Felipe Massa will become the first F1 driver to wear a HANS device in a GP.

After Michael Schumacher's successful first outing in the newest Ferrari in Brazil last weekend, his teammate will finally get his hands on the F2002 for the San Marino GP. The car was not raced until Schumacher won the Brazilian GP because concerns over reliability. Barrichello continued to race the proven F2001 in Brazil, but both drivers will now have the new car at their disposal at Imola.

Honda will debut its newest spec engine in Italy next weekend. Jordan and BAR have been testing the newest evolution of the RA002E at the Valencia circuit in Spain this week, and have reported a modest increase in power. The Japanese engine maker revealed that they had been running the engines at reduced revs during the first three races of 2002 because of reliability concerns. The revs will be increased for Imola, and modifications have been made aimed at reducing internal friction. Both Honda powered teams have had a disappointing start to the season, and have complained about the lack of power out of the Honda thus far.

Sauber driver Felipe Massa is expected to be the first F1 driver to wear a HANS device in a race at Imola next weekend. The HANS (Head And Neck Support) device is designed to reduce injury to a driver's neck in a frontal collision, and will be compulsory in Formula One starting in 2003.

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