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The Interviews • Satisfied Patrese and de Angelis: "More comfortable lying down". The new driving position does not bother the drivers, fully convinced that they have a car in their hands with which can fight for the title.
ESTORIL – “When I did the very first laps at Donington I was really shocked, I felt like I was sitting on nothing because the car was low compared to those I had driven so far”. The speaker is Riccardo Patrese in one of the many necessary breaks due to the sudden hailstorms that struck Estoril. “This impression was increased by the fact that back then there were no small side fairings for the mirrors, so my hands were out in the open. Now it’s much better. The new driving position, on the other hand, did not create any problems for me, in fact it seems even more comfortable, so much so that when I had to get on the old Bt54 I felt almost uncomfortable. The only problem may come from the neck muscles that will have to work differently, but I think it will be enough to do the appropriate exercises to get used to. However, remains the problem that the head is a little too exposed, so much so that both on Elio’s car and mine the mechanics slightly bent the small windshield upwards to improve our comfort”.
It should be noted that Patrese drove the first model of the Bt55 in Portugal, while de Angelis had the second, profoundly modified in the position of the steering wheel which is now more vertical.
“On my car – explains the Paduan – you can’t put your hand under the steering wheel because it touches your legs. This fact does not allow me to have full maneuverability, especially in the wet where you have to “row” more. Apart from these minor problems, I am very satisfied with the car. It has a lot of potential: you understand it immediately, but for the moment I want to go with lead feet to feel it better on me. For the tests in Brazil, I will also have the second version with the raised steering wheel and the modified bodywork in front and I believe that things will improve a lot”.
What do you think about the new engine?
In terms of performance, it seems to me the same as the old one and I confirm the extremely positive impression of December when I tested the new electronic injection on the old engine. There are some small installation problems because the engine is not very docile at the bottom, I can’t play with the accelerator when it’s not at full throttle.
And what do you think about the new gearbox?
It hadn’t convinced me right away, now it does. There were some minor problems with the selector, reverse gear is still very difficult to engage, but I think we are on the right track: we just need to test a lot.
Enthusiastic Elio de Angelis who had the “good fortune” to use the second car, the one with the changed steering wheel position, even if speaking of luck sounds bad in the tests of Estoril since it had rained so much on the Portuguese circuit.
“I’m happy with the car, which is even more comfortable than the old one. The thing that impressed me the most is the ease of driving even if it gives different sensations. I immediately felt at ease, even if it still has to be balanced in the medium-fast corners”.
On which tracks do you think it will have an advantage?
I believe on all of them. Having the weights at the bottom is useful in Monte Carlo as well as in Silverstone: on paper it should be much higher than the other cars.
What is your opinion on the gearbox?
I have faith in Weissman who has always designed transmissions, we have had some problems, but it is normal. It was minor things like some boredom with the gear selector and the reverse gear which was difficult to engage. Instead, I was amazed by the speed of this new transmission.
A world championship car, then?
I think so, but we will have to deal with Williams Honda and McLaren Porsche. It will also depend a lot on the performance of the engines. Then I see Lotus as an outsider given that Senna will have the privileged support of Renault and a teammate of his liking. Ferrari will be the great unknown. I don’t feel like excluding it from the favorites, but I think they will have to work hard at Maranello if they want to be competitive: the others are superior for the moment.
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