Formula One outings for F3000 team mates 05 Sep 2003
Formula 3000 team mates Bjorn Wirdheim and Townsend Bell both got their first taste of Formula One power this week, courtesy of Jordan and BAR.
Wirdheim had a seat fitting with Jordan as long ago as the German Grand Prix - the event at which he clinched the 2003 F3000 title - but had to wait until this week to get back into the cockpit of the EJ13.
The Swedish driver completed 46 laps of the high-speed Monza circuit on Thursday, sharing track space with the likes of Schumacher and Montoya. And although technical problems limited his running somewhat, Wirdheim came away from the session in positive mood.
"It was a bit difficult because we ran into some problems and unfortunately I didn't get as much as running as I was hoping," he said. "The team did good job though and were able to get me out at the end of day for a few more laps. It was good experience for me to drive the car, but I was still learning at the end of the afternoon so I would have liked a few more laps."
Wirdheim finished the day only about half a second off the pace of team regular Giancarlo Fisichella. "He did a good job in difficult circumstances - he was cool and calm and got on with work," said Gary Anderson, Jordan's Director of Race and Test Engineering. "He probably would have found more lap time with another 20 laps."
Wirdheim's Arden International team mate Bell had a busier time at BAR as he conducted three days of straight-line aerodynamic work at Lurcy in France. The 28-year-old American completed more than 1500 kilometres, working closely with engineers from Honda. He also got to undertake some practice starts on his final day.
"It's the fastest car I've ever driven," said Bell of the 005. "I was too busy smiling to be too analytical on the first run, but it was great gradually working up to higher speeds.
"This whole experience has been fantastic. I did a lot of kilometres and learned so much. It's been a great opportunity to learn the systems on the car and the chicanes at each end of the track enabled me to find the lateral limit of the tyres and really get comfortable.
"The aim of the test was to help BAR improve so I tried to do the best job I could for the team and for Honda, and hopefully I have been able to make a good contribution. I have thoroughly enjoyed the test and even after three days of going in a straight line, I still didn't want to get out of the car!"
BAR are also expected to give a test to Wirdheim some time in September.