Monday March 12th, 2001
Benetton are hoping new modifications will help them move up the Formula One grid in Malaysia this weekend after a disappointing start to the season in Australia.
"Melbourne was difficult for the team but no more than we expected," said technical director Mike Gascoyne.
Italian Giancarlo Fisichella and Briton Jenson Button finished the opening Grand Prix in Melbourne in 13th and 14th places respectively after being repeatedly lapped. "Both Renault Sport UK and France are pushing hard on development for Malaysia and Brazil so that we can start the process of moving up the grid," said Gascoyne.
He said the team hoped to have a new bodywork package ready for Malaysia and had also incorporated some modifications to cope with expected high temperatures.
Benetton's director of engineering Pat Symonds said he expected less of a gulf between the 2001 and 2000 lap times in Malaysia.
In Australia, Michael Schumacher's pole lap was almost four seconds faster than the previous year and the International Automobile Federation (FIA) said speeds would be watched closely for the next two races.
"In 2000, the race (in Malaysia) was at the end of the season when significant development progress had already been made on tyres and also the Sepang circuit is suited to a softer tyre than Melbourne," said Symonds.