F1 1999 Champioship

Bookmark and Share

In 1999 Villeneuve joined British American Racing which was formed by his manager Craig Pollock, Adrian Reynard owner of Reynard Motorsport, and British American Tobacco Inc. His racing aim for the new millennium was to create a
"custom-made" outfit in the Schumacher-Ferrari style. While Schumacher merely brough order to a chaotic but nonetheless front-running team, Villeneuve's dream was to take a brand new team to the top. It must have been an alluring prospect - but a misguided one. Sever years later, Villeneuve himself revealed, "I wanted to build something new, and to dream. After winning the championship it was a new challenge."

Expectations were high declaring a victory by the first Grand Prix, as part of Reynard's victorious "Tradition of Excellence". "Why not?", claimed co-founder and chassis designer, Adrian Reynard. "Some might say we are setting our sights too high, but we choose to set high standards."

However, the inaugural 1999 season had been a tough baptism for the team. In fact, B.A.R. finished last in the constructor's championship without scoring any point.
The car was suffering lack of horsepower using the old Supertec engines, aerodynamic balance and mechanical reliability. Jacques Villeneuve's efforts in qualifying sessions weren't enough and he faced 11 successive retirements – 9 of them caused by mechanical failures.
Still, Villeneuve who had walked into success with the established, competitive Williams-Renault team, had his patience, motivation, energy, and character taken for the first time at his F1 career into the limits. "The first year was harder than it was supposed to be. Race after race the car broke down, and it completely sapped my energy. To get back from a test to do three or four days training, knowing that the car probably wasn't going to finish the next race, was really, really hard. It also affected me physically, because even in testing we didn't do a lot of laps, so it was difficult to remain driving-fit, and we didn't do any set-up work."

The first retirement of the season took place at the "Qantas Australian Grand Prix", at team's first race, when Villeneuve lost his rear wing.

Onboard View at Canadian GP in Montreal

During the "Grand Prix Air Canada" in Montreal, 3 F1 champions and a F3000 champion crashed into the infamous "Bienvenue au Quebec" wall. Because of these crashes the wall was alternatevely named "Wall of Champions. The 3 F1 champions were Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve and the F3000 was Villeneuve's teammate in B.A.R. Ricardo Zonta.

The "Foster's Grand Prix de Belgique" in Spa was really fascinating for the team.
During the official qualification session Villeneuve and Zonta experienced horrifying accidents at the infamous Eau Rouge corner when their cars spun off in full throttle. Hopefully, both drivers escaped unhurt from their wrecked cars, without any injuries.

Eventhough, Villeneuve finished the race back in 15th position, it was the first time in the whole 1999 season and after 12 races that the checquered flag was waved for the BAR001.

Villeneuve almost to secure BAR's first ever points at the "Warsteiner Grand Prix d'Europe" in Nurburgring. With 5 laps before the end of the race Villeneuve was driving in the 5th place when he was finally obliged to retire due to a clutch failure disappointing his fans. The winner of the race was Johnny Herbert driving a Stewart Ford.