|Round 10 of the 2002 FIA Formula One World Championship takes place right on BAR and Jordan's doorstep this weekend at Silverstone, the home of British motorsport and located just 8 miles from BAR's Operations Centre in Brackley. Like every British-based team, B.A.R are hoping for a strong performance to reward the tremendous support of their many fans and, of course, the 360-strong team members. For many of the factory-based staff, this is the only chance they get to see the BAR004 in action so they will be heading to Silverstone en masse next Sunday come rain or shine.
The unpredictable British weather always poses the biggest challenge of the Grand Prix weekend and 2001 was no exception. A sudden downpour in Friday's Free Practice sent the teams flying into the pitlane for wet weather tyres at the end of the session and there was more of the same on Saturday. Come Sunday, conditions did a dramatic about-face and the race remained dry, warm and sunny throughout. It was a day to forget for Olivier Panis however. His race was over before the first corner after an unfortunate coming together with his team-mate Jacques Villeneuve, whose car locked up under braking. Jacques was at least able to complete the full race distance, bringing his car home in 8th position.
B.A.R began their preparation for the British Grand Prix last month when they completed a Bridgestone tyre test at the Silverstone circuit. Whilst the team know this track practically inside out, the revised BAR004 has yet to run on home asphalt. So, while most of the teams headed to Barcelona for this week's testing, B.A.R joined Ferrari in Mugello where the series of fast, flowing corners provide similar track characteristics to those at the Northamptonshire circuit. Jacques was joined by test drivers Anthony Davidson and Patrick Lemarie for a positive three-day test where the focus was mainly on set-up and tyre options for this weekend.
Apart from some minor aerodynamic modifications for this race, the car is largely unchanged from the Nurburgring. Following the Mugello test, the team will work closely with Honda to ascertain whether the latest evolution engine will be run throughout the full race weekend at Silverstone.
This year, the team's objective is to secure a top-10 finish for both cars whilst making sure that B.A.R are in the frame for any points-scoring opportunities which may be thrown up by unknown quantities such as the weather.
David Richards, Team Principal:
"A race finish for both cars at the Nurburgring was another step in the right direction, so the next logical step is a regular place in the top-10. A home Grand Prix creates a great deal of expectation and, while a point or two would be the most desirable outcome this weekend, signs of further steady improvement should still be considered a success.
"The whole team have been eagerly anticipating this race – and rightly so. Everyone has worked extremely hard over the last few months – particularly those who work out of sight at the factory. They'll be given a rare opportunity to see the fruits of their labour this weekend and we'll be doing the best job we can to reward their efforts - and the commitment of our partners and fans."
Jacques Villeneuve on the British Grand Prix:
"Silverstone isn't a home Grand Prix for me but it is important for the rest of the team because a lot of the guys who work at the factory can't come to any other race. I do enjoy racing at Silverstone though. There's a huge crowd and the fans are great. They're really into motor racing so it's great to race in front of them, especially as the track is fun to drive.
"Getting the right set-up here is a challenge. You need a reasonable amount of downforce and high aerodynamic efficiency. It's a very interesting track to drive though. The first corner, Copse, is very difficult but exciting - it's almost flat, very fast and good fun. Bridge is even more exhilarating. You can take it flat in qualifying, but you have to lift a little in the race. You don't want to lose control through here though because the wall isn't far away!
"I have good memories of winning the British Grand Prix in 1996 and 1997 so I know what a great feeling it is to do well in your team's home race. 2002 has been a tough season so far though so we have to be realistic about our expectations for this weekend."
Olivier Panis on the British Grand Prix:
"I was pleased to see us taking another step forward at the Nürburgring and I hope we can continue to improve here this weekend, especially as this is the team's home race. Everybody has worked really hard this season, especially with the new car, and they deserve some reward for that.
"I always look forward to the British Grand Prix. I've tested here a lot and it's a very exciting track. The atmosphere at Silverstone is great - really special. English fans are real fans - very enthusiastic and very knowledgeable. You really feel that when you arrive.
"This has never been a particularly lucky track for me since my 4th place in 1995 but it shouldn't be too hard to have a better race than last year! The weather is the biggest challenge here. It can completely change the outcome of qualifying and the race and it makes the set-up choice and strategy a bit of a lottery. A wet race is no bad thing for us though. It means anything can happen and you can easily find yourself in a position to fight for a top-6 finish. Let's hope that's the case on Sunday!"
Race Distance - 60 Laps. 191.604 miles (308.356 km)
Circuit Length - 3.194 miles (5.141 km)
Race Start - 13.00 local time (14.00CET)
Located 3 miles away from the town of Towcester, this former World War II airfield provides a venue where Formula One cars can really be unleashed and as a result it remains one of the highlights of the calendar. The circuit itself is still a great circuit, although there is some criticism over a lack of passing places. Overtaking moves are possible into Copse, Stowe and Abbey, but cars tend to lose downforce following each other closely through the preceding fast corners. The entry to Becketts is now the quickest corner on the track, a 7th gear 155mph bend. The slowest section is the 55mph, 2nd gear Vale left-hander that leads directly into Club corner. Silverstone has been heavily censured in the past because of the traffic problems that arise each year on the small access roads around the circuit. However, it is hoped that the new road system around the circuit has rectified this issue once and for all.