JANUARY 13, 2002
Lauda enjoys successful Jaguar F1 test
Niki Lauda had a successful test outing in the F1 Jaguar R2C at Valencia today.
"At the end of the day my beliefs were confirmed," said Lauda, "and F1 cars have certainly changed dramatically since my day. On this experience they seem to be more easier to drive, but the test has given me a useful insight into the electronic dimension on today's cars, something which I always felt rather left out of when we were discussing these systems at technical debriefs." Lauda also tried a launch control start on the main straight which he found quite straightforward to initiate and extremely impressive.
Lauda did several laps and matched the straight line speed achieved by Pedro de la Rosa in the R2C earlier in the day, around 260kph. Observers say his corner entry speeds were also extremely impressive. However the Austrian admitted that, while it had been a useful exercise, he had no further plans to test again.
Prior to the test many Jaguar insiders had been divided over the wisdom of the 52-year-old team principal getting back behind the wheel sixteen years after driving in his last grand prix.
Yet the exercise did not deflect from the Jaguar team's pre-season development program. No formula one testing as such was permitted at Valencia yesterday and the Jaguar team had rented the track primarily to amass as much promotional television shots of Eddie Irvine driving the new R3 on a day when the television rights were not controlled by F1 commercial rights holder Kirch.
"To be honest, it was nice to see Niki out there," said Irvine, "and it's certainly not going to hurt our technical debriefs, although I'm not sure how much it will move the process forward."