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[Finished] Case #4 : Ricardo Zonta v BAR

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#1 Rich

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Posted 13 January 2001 - 15:09

JayWay has brought to the Atlas F1 court the case of Ricardo Zonta versus his former employer, the British American Racing team.

Brazilian Zonta drove for the BAR team during the 1999 and 2000 seasons as team-mate to 1997 WDC Jacques Villeneuve. This case will determine whether Zonta received unfair treatment from the BAR team and, if said unfair treatment did exist, to what extent (if at all) his performance was impaired as a result.

This case has been accepted for hearing by the court, and arguments will be heard by all interested parties for a period of ten days, from January 24th 2001 to February 3rd 2001 inclusive.

The residing judge is Rich. Arguments and evidence on the subject can be posted in this thread as of the opening date and for as long as the hearing is open. A decision on the case will be posted up to 7 days (ie not later than February 10th) after the hearing is closed.

Judge's Preamble :

These are difficult cases to try, because not much exists by way of hard established facts. As such, I will be lenient on speculation and hearsay, provided sufficient motivation is provided in support of the argument.

It is the Prosecution's job to show beyond reasonable doubt that Zonta's performance was adversely affected by the treatment he received from the BAR team. Likewise, it is the Defence's obligation to show beyond reasonable doubt that BAR's treatment of Zonta did not materially or measurably influence his driving performances over the two-year term of his employment with the team.

For the court's reference, could some member please post a brief CV of Ricardo Zonta, together with performance details (qualifying time, grid position, race position, fastest lap) for both Zonta and team-mate Villeneuve, and to cover all GP during the 1999 and 2000 seasons.

Thanks and good luck to both sides.


#2 Rich

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Posted 25 January 2001 - 17:09

My apologies to all for the delay in opening this case. Court is now in session.

#3 Bruce

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Posted 25 January 2001 - 22:39

Stats bit;

Australia 1999
Qualifying: JV: 11th 1m32.888 RZ:19th 1m34.412
Race: JV lap 13, Accident (wing failure) RZ Lap 48, engine.

Brazil 1999
JV: 21st (time disallowed-fuel irregularity) RZ: no time (accident)
JV 49 laps hydraulic failure

San Marino 1999
JV: 5th 1m27.313 Mika Salo (RZ injured) 19th 1m29.451
JV 0 laps (transmission) MS 7th, lap 59 (electric)

Monaco 1999
JV:8th 1m21.827 MS 12th 1m22.241
JV lap 32 (oil leak) MS lap 36 (brakes)

Spain 1999
JV 6th 1m22.703 MS 16th 1m23.683 (fast lap disllowed)
JV Lap 40 transmission MS: 8th

Canada 1999
JV 16th 1m21.302 RZ 17th 1m21.467
JV lap 34 accident RZ lap 2 accident

France 1999
JV 12th 1m43.748 RZ 10th 1m42.228
JV lap 25 spin RZ 9th

Britain 1999
JV 9th 1m26.719 RZ 16th 1m27.699
JV lap 29 gearbox RZ lap 41 suspension

Austria 1999
JV 9th 1m12.833 RZ15th 1m13.172
JV lap 34 driveshaft RZ lap 63 clutch

Germany 1999
JV 12th 1m44.508 RZ 18th 1m45.460
JV lap 0 collision with Diniz RZ lap 20 engine

Hungary 1999
JV 9th 1m19.127 RZ 17th 1m20.060
JV lap 60 clutch RZ 13th

Belgium 1999
(Autocourse buuggered up, reprinting the Hungarian time sheet... never noticed before...)
JV 11th RZ 14th
JV 15th 43 laps Z lap 33 gearbox

Italy 1999
JV 11th 1m24.188 RZ 18th 1m25.114
JV 8th RZ lap 25 wheel bearing

Europe 1999
JV 8th 1m20.825 RZ 17th 1m22.267
JV 10th 61 laps clutch RZ 8th 65 laps

Malaysia 1999
JV 10th 1m42.087 RZ 13th 1m 42 .310
JV lap 48 hudraulics RZ lap 6 engine

Japan 1999
JV 11th 1m39.732 RZ 1m40.861
JV 9th RZ 12th

Qualifying times are expressed in seconds behind pole, as I take these from F1Racing, not having Autocourse yet...)

Australia 2000
JV 8th +1.412 RZ 16th +2.561
JV 4th RZ 6th

Brazil 2000
JV 10th +1.404 RZ 8th +1.373
JV lap 16, gearbox RZ 9th

San Marino 2000
JV 9th +1.410 RZ 14th +2.100
JV 5th RZ 12th

Britain 2000
JV 10th +1.322 RZ 16th +2.069
JV 16th DNF RZ spin, lap 36

Spain 2000
JV 6th +.989 RZ +1.908
JV lap 21 hydraulics RZ 8th

Europe 2000
JV 9th +1.213 RZ 18th +2.237
JV lap 36 engine RZ lap 51 spin

Monaco 2000
JV 17th +2.373 RZ 20th +2.849
JV 7th RZ lap 48 accident

Canada 2000
JV 6th +1.105 RZ +1.303
JV DNF 5 laps behind RZ 8th

France 2000
JV 7th +1.021 RZ 19th +2.036
JV 4th RZ 16 laps crash

Austria 2000
JV 7th +1.239 RZ 6th +1.237
JV 4th RZ lap 58 engine

Germany 2000
JV 9th +2.424 RZ 12th +2.968
JV 8th RZ lap 37, accident

Hungary 2000
JV 16th +2.423 RZ 18th +2.758
JV 12th 2 laps behind RZ 14th, 2 laps behind

Belgium 2000
JV 7th +1.280 RZ 13th +2.356
JV 7th RZ 12th, 1 lap down

Italy 2000
JV 4th +.468 RZ 17th +1.567
JVlap 14, electrics RZ 6th

USA 2000
JV 8th +1.051 RZ 12th +1.518
JV 4th RZ 6th

Japan 2000
JV 9th +1.442 RZ 18th +2.444
JV 6th RZ 9th 1 lap down

Malaysia 2000
JV 6th +1.256 RZ 11th +1.761
JV 5th RZ lap 46 engine

I think that the stats above would suggest that RZ was not unfairly treated. I am going to be unable to participate much here as I leave for 2 weeks tommorow, so I'll get my 2 cents in now.

Simply put, BAR was not in a position to favour either driver, either year. In 1999 they desperately needed results - this is the team that promised a win and didn't deliver a single point. In the end I don't think they cared if Mickey Mouse got them a placing - they wanted it.

In 2000, they were battling to secure and hold the Honda engine deal - unsuccessfully as it turned out, given Jordan's successful bid to "share" engines - so again, they needed results.

The stats above show that if BAR were trying to favour JV, they did a piss poor job. Granted, JV did dominate in qualifying, but RZ did beat him several times, and if BAR were favouring JV that obviously, I don't think that he would have even done that. Also, take a look at RZ's times - sometimes WAAAY off, sometimes close to JV and sometimes (rarely) ahead. This is suggestive of what he was - a rookie in a new team.

In the end, I don't think that RZ was unfairly treated - BAR couldn't afford to do that. However, I think that JV had an advantage on him, given that this was RZs firt two years in F1, and given what a mess BAR was, especially in 1999, they would not have had time to baby RZ along - JV doesn't need special attention to get the job done anymore (In 1996 he did - getting all those testing miles in the Williams). RZ did, I think, need some TLC - and BAR was never going to be where he would get it given their desperate circumstances.

Have fun - Cheers - Bruce

oooops --- corrected some egregious spelling mistakes... later... B
[p][Edited by Bruce on 01-26-2001]

#4 Mikeis

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Posted 26 January 2001 - 03:19

in defence of Ricardo Zonta;

BAR began isolating him at hungary after they determined that they might be able to aquire the abilities of Olivier Panis for 2001 and also due to a few racing incidents that involved RZ in races before the hungarian GP. Germany was an example of this when RZ spun JV out while following by accident. JV expressed his dislike of RZ as a driver and as a result, Craig Pollock felt that RZ was not up to par. This proves that the BAR team felt that JV was their number one driver from the outset, and were therefore biased in team decisions.

proof of RZ's isolation is found in this quote from http://www.gtf1.com and their technical updates section:
"BAR had power steering for JV but not Zonta (this was the weekend Zonta was informed he had lost the BAR drive for 2001 and rumours were circulating that Pollock wanted Panis to race for the rest of the season)."
According to the times provided in this fourm, at this race, RZ was on similar pace to JV(in a much easier car to drive) for the whole weekend(qualifying and the race).

The trend continued at the next round at Spa:
"BAR had modified flip-ups and new electrical power steering and a new step engine. The latter two changes weren't available to Zonta continuing his isolation."
The Differences in advances between JV's car and RZ's car are more then likely to blame for RZ's poor performances at this race(worse engine and no power steering).

Italy in the next round RZ finally gets some help in terms of car advancements; and he certainly made the most of it, running in the top of the order for most of the race:
"At BAR Zonta finally got hold of the power steering system, people will need no reminding that Monza was Zonta's best race of the season."
RZ finished that race in 6th place.

in conclusion, I feel RZ was treated unfairly by BAR and Craig pollock. This i assume can be observed to the extent of mid-season 2000 until the end of the season at Malaysia.
The 1999 season can be put down simply to it being Ricardo's rookie year, in an unfamiliar car and on unfamiliar tracks.

#5 George Bailey

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Posted 28 January 2001 - 22:05

I would humbly suggest that the court focus on the impact, if any, of BARs treatment of RZ, rather than it's 'fairness'. I believe the preamble does a good job of focusing the argument in that direction.

I feel in terms of fairness a team owes a driver two things:
1) Payment of the agreed salary.
2) A car that meets the FIA rules for saftey.

Anything beyond that in terms of equipment and emotional support can be given, or withheld, at the teams whim. The teams exist for their own sake, not to further the drivers careers. To me this 'fact' reduces the case to whether or not BAR gave RZ an equal opportunity to compete with JV.

#6 Bex37

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Posted 29 January 2001 - 00:56

I wish to submit that;

In my capacity as a former race driver at national title competition level, a racing driver will always perform to the best of his or her ability once the start signal of a race is given. In formula 1, there is even more incentive to perform this way as it is their profession.

This can be qualified a little in that some drivers appear to perform worse (i.e. the poor car performance accentuates a lack of motivation which translates into poor lap times) when given a car of inferior performance levels. However, this cannot relate to the alleged "unequal treatment" unless such treatment has resulted directly in the driver (in this case, Zonta) having an inferior car to his team-mate. It is fairly clear from the statistics above that both cars were extremely unreliable and both drivers were able, at times to place in the top ten. It would seem that both cars were as bad as each other so this qualification does not apply to this case.

Even if Zonta were treated unequally in the garage, such treatment would not affect his on-track driving performance. If anything, it may make Zonta try harder whilst driving so that he may secure a better team for the following year.

Gotta go, customer here to see me.

#7 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 30 January 2001 - 04:44

As a former racer myself I must respectfully disagree. Racing is 90% confidence. Driving in the wet is the ultimate example of this. A smart team owner will realise that making the driver happy is just as important as making his driver fast. I submit as Exhibit A Heinz Harald Frentzens relative performances at Williams vs Jordan.

However, I do feel that whilst BAR was negligent, they were not malicious. I feel tha the team was merely incompetent in its inexperience and was unable, unwilling, or uneducated to keep their drivers confident. However again, allowing one driver to call the other driver stupid is not something that should ever be allowed in a team, and certainly not in public.

Can we confirm the rumour that after Zonta's best ever qualifying position, 6th at this year's Austrian GP, his manager was told by Craig Pollock that Ricardo was underperforming and might have to look elsewhere?

#8 Mikeis

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Posted 30 January 2001 - 23:46

Bex37, based on the fact that RZ knew that:
a) he was out of a job at the end of the season, and
b) he was not getting a equal car to his team-mate...
that could account for his poor performances. Like you said in your post, race car drivers race to the best of their abilities no matter what the situation. Lack of motivation would play a major role in determining what the "best of his/her abilities" accounts for.
How this relates is that if RZ knew that he didn't have an equal car to his own team-mate, and that the team isn't behind him AND that his own team-mate called him stupid...that would cause a lack of motivation for him, and it would seem that nobody else in the team has any motivation at all anyway. That's why i think RZ performed so poorly after about the half-way point of the 2000 season.
In 1999, the cars were just crap...it wasn't RZ's fault.

also i'd like to note that a comparison between a second year rookie and a world drivers champion(JV) seems a bit unfair. Perhaps a comparison to other 1999 rookies would be more telling...Pedro de la rosa(i think), and mark Gene(again i think) were rookies that year. I can't remember that far back(lol) :)

newho, must be off. lata

#9 Bex37

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Posted 01 February 2001 - 11:31

Originally posted by Ross Stonefeld
As a former racer myself I must respectfully disagree. Racing is 90% confidence. Driving in the wet is the ultimate example of this. A smart team owner will realise that making the driver happy is just as important as making his driver fast. I submit as Exhibit A Heinz Harald Frentzens relative performances at Williams vs Jordan.

With due respect Ross, you are not a Formula 1 driver with the eperience in other formulas like Zonta. I'm absolutely certain that a driver of the calibre of Zonta would have plenty of confidence in his own ability. He has won against the best in other formula.

I realise that Autosport quoted Zonta as saying "I lost confidence in my machine and myself", however, I would put it to you that any driver would lose confidence in a car such as the BAR and this would have to affect your own confidence. It is not good for one's morale to continually blow up and be uncompetitive. Remember that JV was threatening to leave the team due to the BAR's uncompetitiveness. The only difference is that JV has been in a championship winning car and he has the credability to be outspoken in the media and get away with it. The point is, this drop in your own confidence is not due to the treatment by your team, it is due to the fact that you have been uncompetitive for so long.

Your example of HHF is an extraodinary one. Heinz has to be the strangest driver I've ever seen. He can lap two seconds off the pace for the first two pitstops and then do a string of fastest laps when he gets in the lead. Heinz is susceptible to something, but when you find out what it is please let me know.

But probably the best example is that Salo's performances were somewhat similar to JV's; a man who has no shortage of confidence! Or are you saying that Salo would normally thrash JV on equal terms :eek:

Your example of wet weather has some truth but does not relate to this case. It relates more to the fact that fast laps produce confidence in your machine rather than your confidence level reducing your lap time. I've driven chassis that are diabolical in the rain and have come last and have lost confidence in myself totally. I then bought a different chassis and found that it was easy to pull a full straight length on second place by the end of the race. I felt really confident then. However, the confidence I had in the good chassis would have been no use in the old chassis; I would have ended up in the boonies! That is, it is a good car/engine package that makes you confident, not visa versa.

Again, Zonta returned reasonably even results to JV. So where's the confidence come into it?

Confidence comes from being fast and competitive. If he had the right car, he would have been confident. Problems is, neither driver had the right car, so it cannot be unfair that Zonta lost confidence.

I agree that it is important for team support, but this is more to do with the efficient engineering and setup of the car than what the driver is able to do with a given car. Unfortunately, nobody had any idea about engineering and setup anyway as they were too busy finding the next oil leak.

#10 John

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Posted 01 February 2001 - 19:19

BAR did not completely perform their obligations. As mentioned previously, pay and safety, are part of this obligation.

I submit that BAR's budget did not allow them to put forth 2 equally competitive cars, and the developments could not come forth for both drivers at the same time. The BAT deal is rich, as a single sponsor, but their car was void of much other sponsorship in 1999.

I also bring forth as evidence mechanical failures and set-up limitations that resulted in some of the worst seen accidents in the past few years. Spa 99 and Silverstone testing 2000 (I apologise for the absence of a date).
Ricardo Zonta was the victim of these accidents, the one at Silverstone having his car hit and flip over a concrete barrier and fence.
The listing of mechanical failures during races in a previous post is extremely prolific. How could anyone have confidence in this car? Even JV was quite frustrated.

I would say that Ricardo Zonta's confidence in the car could not be high, and this affected his performance.

#11 JayWay

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Posted 02 February 2001 - 04:17

The issue of whether Ricardo Zonta was mistreated during his time at BAR is an issue that has many possible factors, and explanations.

When it comes to this case I believe logic and solid proof has been overlooked for beliefs and other motives such as a chance to give JV a bad name.

I believe that one thing in this case that stands out is how much contradiction there is. Contradiction of some of Zontas comments, and most importantly
contradiction in the public beliefs and insider claims, even from Zonta. People have skipped important research as a result of assuming that just because in there
mind Villeneuve is a villain, and just because JV has stock in the team, and the owner is his good friend and manager, Craig Pollock, that the issue is open close.
But that is far from the case.

One issue I think is at hand here is Zontas desperate attempts to save his own career. Long before Zontas future was at odds with BAR, rumours about Zonta being mistreated
has already risen. It was only when Zonta realized he would not return to BAR in 2001, and that he was without a ride that he capatilized on the rumours to make his lack
of preformance look less pathetic.

Before Zonta became desperate in his effort to save his career, he voiced the idea that he was quite happy in BAR. And that there was nothing out of the norm going on that
would warrent any concern on his part. This taken from an interview done with autosport.

"We share data, like in every team but he’s never going to explain, for example, how he does the first corner," the Brazilian continued.
"this seems to be the norm in F1 it’s still difficult for me, being a rookie, to be teamed with him a world champion. It does seem normal for
BAR to give him every opportunity to get the results, and not me. Compared to last year, it’s a lot better.
I have almost the same level of car as he does and the same support, but, sometimes, I can feel that he still has more than me," Zonta commented"

In this quote we see that Zonta says himself that he gets nearly the same car, and the same support. How is this not normal for F1? It is widely accepted
that as the team leader Michael Schumacher gets a bit better treatment then Barrichello, preferential shot at equipment, new parts etc. For a team that is
just starting out, and that has so many problems politically and preformance wise, it is only logical to base the around a former world champion to gain
stability. Craig Pollock admitted this, saying that in 99, Zonta surely was mistreated, because the team had to center soley around Villeneuve to get stability.
I fully admitt Zonta got screwed in a sense in 99. But it is his own fault for coming to a team like BAR The whole F1 world knew it was no place for a rookie.

Next, and being a pretty big Zonta fan earlier, it pains me to say this, but Zonta is a whiner. And this goes back to his naive approach to F1 when joining BAR.
Thinking that a team like BAR would be right for him. Zonta in 99 stated that he underestimated F1, he though he would win right away, but this was not the case.
This naive mentality also spread into his work ethic, and his team mate relationship. He did not understand the dedication of F1, and JV's job, and thought
that it would be a friendly 'I scratch your back, you scratch mine" atmosphere. When this naive mentality was proven wrong, Zonta interpited it wrong, and
in his mind he was being screwed, but really he was not. Here I will show you. (I will repeat a part of the above quote)

""We share data, like in every team but he’s never going to explain, for example, how he does the first corner,"

The first time I read this quote (when I was first realizing the situation at BAR, I got the feeling that it was like, 'what does he expect? Is he a baby? He
is supposed to be proffesional. Does he need a personal teacher to help him steer the steering wheel? JV has his own work to do.'

About 6 months later, JV was interviewed on French radio, an interview that was heard by Mtl 78, who then gave the paraphrased transcript. I was not sure if
my assumption about Zontas quote was very accurate, untill I heard what JV said about that exact situation in this interview.

""He said that a young driver like him should do a year of testing first. That he (JV) did not have the time or inclkination to be his "teacher", that
he had FULL access to JV's telemetry and setup info, but that his driving was his own. He said that every driver has his own secrets and that
he shouldn't hva te to tell another F1 driver how to drive. No one told him how to drive when he joined"

After hearing this I knew my original assumptions were correct, that JV agreed with my original theory, Zonta did not have the mind for F1,and was naive. And because
of this spread ideas that he was getting screwed but he really wasn't. You can put Zontas and JV's quotes together. They go together like a puzzel. One whines about
not being helped, the other complains that he can't be his teacher, one says ok he gave me all the data of his, the other says he gave Zonta data, but that is the norm, and
no more could he do. Plus JV also voices the opinion, as talked about earlier, that Zonta came into the wrong situation. He did not belong in BAR. And thus Zonta
got the wrong idea about everything in F1.

We have seen some examples where Zonta gives the idea that yes, it was a fair team, but also because of his naive approach, he gives the idea alot that it is not tottaly fair.
But earlier then that Zonta was even content with himself that he was not preforming well enough even to deserve the same treatment, let alone get it!
Compare these two quotes from Zonta. The first is recently in the midst of him using these rumours to help save his career, the other is from earlier in 2000.
See closely how they contradict each other.

I lost confidence in my machine and myself," Zonta was quoted as saying in Autosport on Thursday. "The situation worsened because of the environment at the team.
"Instead of finding support and comfort with Jacques Villeneuve and (team boss) Craig Pollock, I found critical remarks which were unjustified.
"And from there the personal errors multiplied.
"I will never return to a team whose driver is a World Champion and whose owner is also the manager and best friend of this driver. I suffered too much."

Now the earlier quote

"Of course he is the first driver and has more support than me, but if I cannot show my potential in qualifying, how can I say I am faster than
him? I should improve my qualifying and then I should be at the same level as him."

You read the quotes, and you see that he goes from 'oh gee i am not driving well, I don't deserve the same treatment.', then to a point where
he is desperate to save his career, so craftly uses the rumours to his advantage to save his rep, all of a sudden 'oh, it was so unfair, sure I
underpreformed, but it was not my fault at all. I could not even get any support from Jacques and Craig."

So it goes from totally his fault, he understands he does not even deserve the same treatment, even though on two occasions as quotes he says
he gets almost the same, to all of a sudden it wasn't his fault. There is absolutely no consistency. How can you take Zontas word as fact? How
can you confidently label Jacques a dirty teammate based on this? Where there are so many flaws?

Ok next.

There has been also rumblings that besides inside the team, Jacques was just plain an a-hole to Zonta. And that Jacques hated Zonta. And maybe was
having him being mistreated out of spite.

I accept that JV disliked Zonta, that JV treated Zonta like ****. But, I believe there is very good reason for this, and much of it stems back to Zonta
mudslinging to save his career.

A myth is that JV always disliked Zonta, Bira told me about incidents where JV would not even give Zonta a umbrella in the rain, and that JV would not
sit with Zonta to eat. This gives the impression that JV is just plain an A-hole. Totally false. Somewhere along the line the relationship for some reason
had to go sour. I believe it is because JV disrespected Zontas lieing, and whining. At the begining of 2000, Zonta and JV were on very good terms. Zonta
even wen to the extent to say that he was happy to have a teammate like JV, as seen in the following quote.

"Ricardo Zonta is still relatively new to the sport and has been somewhat surprised by his relationship with team-mate Jacques Villeneuve.
Villeneuve is nothing if not competitive and Zonta admits that the Canadian's attitude depends on how well he is performing on the circuit.
"Sometimes, like when we were testing in South Africa at the start of the year, when the weather was awful and we couldn’t run, we went
shopping together and he was very friendly. It felt good to have a relationship with a guy like that"

So at this point that Zonta feels very good as friends with JV. Also please note, that the words of Zonta, such as, it feels good to have a relationship
with a guy like that. Does these words sound like the words of driver who is getting mistreated?? It is a common knowledge in F1 that most teammates don't
even socialize outside the track. So why would a pair of teammates that one is unfair to the other, even be somewhat good friends outside the track? The two
do not go together.

Notice, that if you go over the timeline with BAR, that the time when JV started to really badmouth Zonta was when Zonta became desperate with his career, and due
to this rumours of JV mistreating Zonta at BAR were getting louder. I jeel JV felt screwed by Zonta, having been lied about. In the following quote you see JV, state as
well that he in fact liked Zonta. But it all just got to much.

"Jacques Villeneuve has described Zonta’s antics as ‘imbecilic’, "I have always stayed quiet because deep down I have always found him a nice guy,"
Jacques said. "But I just don't understand his attitude. In Germany he tried to pass me when the team told him to back off. I know he is seeking a drive for next
year, but frankly he has dug his own hole and all by himself. It's an imbecilic way to behave."

In that quote Jacques also hints that Zonta as he observed was becoming increasingly desperate and nervous about his future in F1.

Despite the change in relationship between Zonta, JV claims that he was stil fair to Zonta in this quote from the interview for French radio as
quoted by Mtl 78'.

"""On Zonta and status in the team.

He said that there were NO #1. and #2. at BAR. He gave specific examples of situations where he could have called for superior support but didn't.
The best example was with BAR's Japan engines. They had 2 ready at Indy, which meant that JV could have used 1 at Indy and the other in Japan,
because they would not be able to produce more in time for Japan, he didn't use one at Indy and they both used one at Japan."

I admitt that there is no way to tell if JV is telling the truth. But look at the quotes from JV and Zonta earlier how well they went together, and matched eachother.
If he was right on about that, why couldn't he be right on about this? And another point I want to bring up, is that in ALL the quotes from Zonta, even those
where he hints he was treated unfairly, he never comes right out and says he got **** treatment with equipment and all. Possibly when he was lieing about
this situation to save his career he knew he could not come out and say he did not get any good treatment, so he worded it carefully. More reason
to see why JV would be pissed. It was good work for Zonta to use this to his advantage. I mean the situation was perfect. A driver with a rep as an
a-hole, who is in a team he partially owns, whos manager is the head of the team. It is perfect for Zonta to launch this attack. And it would be so
hard for JV to fight the claims. He tried as you can see, he even stated he gave up possible preferential treatment, and gave Zonta a qualifying engine,
and in the meantime sacrafised his qualifying efforts. But it has obivously had no affect on the public opinion.

One last point. It is no doubt that Zonta is better then he showed at BAR. And that he underpreformed, and could, and I expect him to, do much better
at Jordan. And while the hostile enviorment, filled with politics probably did have an affect on Zonta, but by no fault of JV, people have willingly
ignored other factors that could have affected Zonta. Zonta suffered two massive crashes in testing. A young driver like Zonta, even just one crash like
that one possibly destroy his confidence for good. Just look at Olivier Panis, what it did to him. And make that two crashes for Zonta. To say that these
crashes had no affect on Zontas preformance is insane. And even more insane to blame it on JV's treatment of Zonta, and ignore these crashes.

What would have more of an affect on you. Two massive life threatning crashes? Or a hostile enviroment (that even affected JV, it wore him out)?

You decide.

#12 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 03 February 2001 - 08:10

I would like to point out, regarding JV's suggestion in the interview that Zonta should have done a year of testing

in 1997 Ricardo Zonta was the test driver for the Benson & Hedges Jordan Puegeot team, whilst winning the International F3000 title

in 1998 Ricardo Zonta was the test drover for West Mclaren Mercedes whilst winning the FIA GT championship with Mercedes

Perhaps Zonta was spoiled by having worked for more professional teams?

I think we should ignore quotes in this matter. You will say very different things when employed by a team and when not employed by said team. No one's going to '**** where they eat' so to speak.

Regarding JayWay's stories of JV's antics, Mr Villeneuve needs to understand the concept of a TEAM and a TEAM MATE and that Lucky Strike British American Racing Honda is there to win races and not to serve him, even if its easy for him to manipulate them to such.

I would like to bring up the test driver matter. When BAR was founded Jean-Christophe Boullion was signed as test driver. JCB was the Williams-Renault TD (obviously the Renault mil was influential in his position) and was very highly rated. JCB was then 'released' and replaced with Patrick LeMarie, who's CV is no more impressive than your average Grand Prix Legends player. However he is a good friend of Mr Villeneuve, and even enjoyed Mr Villeneuve's funding whilst in International Formula 3000. During the off season of 99-00 BAR were interested in signing British Formula 3 champion Marc Hynes to the test team, but Mr Villeneuve vetoed this idea in favor of Mr. Lemarie. Now, the link in all of this to Zonta is that if Mr Villeneuve has veto power over test drivers, we could to some extent extrapolate that he has a more telling impact on the team; either direct or in the sense of people feeling 'well this is JV's team so we should probably do A instead of B'

However! This is not the case of Jacques Villeneuve vs Ricardo Zonta. This is the case of Lucky Strike British American Racing Honda vs Ricardo Zonta. JV plays a side show act in this matter. Jacques Villeneuve could have been the most loving and supportive team mate on the grid but it wouldnt change whether or not BAR were mistreating him.

Again I will state my belief that BAR did not give Ricardo Zonta the tools he needed to perform at his best, mainly in the area of giving him confidence. Again though, my jury is still out whether this was a case of negligence of a new struggling team or gross malicousness. Ricardo Zonta's tenure was 2 seasons. They are 2 consecutive seasons so in effect they are as one. What happens in 99 will affect 2000. You are mistreated one day, you're not going to feel very chippy the next.


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Posted 03 February 2001 - 13:18

If you were mistreated in '99 you would get out and go elsewhere for 2000 . Contracts mean little these days .

#14 TheD2JBug

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Posted 04 February 2001 - 03:55

Your Honor.

Just as a comment to Ross's statement

"However! This is not the case of Jacques Villeneuve vs Ricardo Zonta. This is the case of Lucky Strike British American Racing Honda vs Ricardo Zonta. JV plays a side show act in this matter. Jacques Villeneuve could have been the most loving and supportive team mate on the grid but it wouldnt change whether or not BAR were mistreating him. "

Having a team manager who also manages the " #1 " driver has to be some sort of conflict of interest. However it may just be inexperience at the top.

I think since JV has the level of influence he does in the team as has been presented in many posts , his comments and such are indeed relavant to the prosecution of Lucky Strike BAR Honda in their treatment of one Riccardo Zonta.

#15 mtl'78

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Posted 04 February 2001 - 07:47

This is the thread that Jayway mentioned:


What I remember now from it was that JV seemed sincerely sad that things didn't work out. I think that Zonta was treated like any of the clear #2's in Formula 1: Barichello, Wurz, Heidfeld and Mazzacane. This means first access to new parts, the spare car, to race strategy, as well as team personnel.

So in a way, I think this case has tapped a larger issue, that being, are #2's treated fairly in F1?

In the case of Zonta, I believe that it was a wrong decision to sign with BAR. In 1999 the team was in total chaos, on pace to set records for futility. They were simply unable to make a car last a GP distance. Against this backdrop a rookie driver had to cope with inadequate testing time due to poor reliability, a rookie set of mechanics and engineers, and a WDC teammate with as much pull as Micheal Schumacher. Whenever the car DID go Villeneuve was miles ahead... Desperate to get any kind of result, anything above DNF, the team was working with the driver of experience to solve the problems, so that left little time to hear Zonta's concerns! Little was expected of him under such circumstances, and his relatively poor showing was ignored and he was retained for 2000.

In 2000, with Honda aboard, expectations were high once again. This time the budget was under control, Honda assisting BAR with the gearbox, electronics and suspension. Zonta's performance was IMO decent. Villeneuve is a very fast teammate after all. Since mid 1996, he's been generally faster than all of his teammates. Zonta was quite often on JV's pace, though not in qualifying too much. I think the reason BAR let him go was that Panis became an option. Had Panis not impressed so much in his testing role, I can't see BAR picking anyone one else over Zonta. (Except PDLR, but I doubt BAR would have waited so long to confirm Zonta)

Zonta is obviously an excellent driver, winning both the GT and F3000 WDC's before joining F1, so those who will make the argument that Zonta was simply inadequate are wrong. That said, Zonta's choice was wrong. Had he gone with an established team, Zonta would have had a MUCH easier time. As it was there were rookies on both sides of the Pit wall at BAR. If he goes well and eventually becomes a full Jordan driver, I think he'll be fine, perhaps on the level of Mika Salo, or David Coulthard. The fact that he drove difficult cars, with an inexperienced team, made Zonta's success a near impossibility. Only a driver like Micheal Schumacher, or, who knows, Jenson Button could have made it work under those conditions.

As far as the "controversies", I hope the court views as comically as I do. As far as Hockenheim is concerned, I remember in 1997 Ralf Schumacher spun off Fisichella trying to overtake for 4th in a very similar fashion in Argentina. He wasn't chewed out so bad after the race, though Eddie did tell him he had to be more careful. The difference? Ralf had made up for his mistake by finishing third... Zonta on the other hand promptly spun off 3 laps after knocking JV out of 6th.

Like JV said in the interview: "I'm hardly the first driver to call another an idiot... He [Zonta] should be tougher than this [his complaints to the press]... When I was with Williams I had to deal with much worse aggravation from Irvine, whose sole purpose was to upset the Williams drivers"

#16 Rich

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Posted 04 February 2001 - 12:44

Thank you all for your arguments and contributions. This hearing is now closed and judgement will be posted within seven days.

#17 Rich

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Posted 14 February 2001 - 01:25

Case #4 : Ricardo Zonta versus BAR

Case Submission by JayWay
Court Decision by Richard Barnes
February 2001


Each new Formula One season sees the arrival of new faces and new talents, brimming with optimism and hope that they can fulfil their destiny in the sport's pinnacle formula. The 1999 season was no different. The new British American Racing team, under the leadership of Craig Pollock, hoped to compete instantly with the likes of McLaren and Ferrari, and Pollock himself boldly predicted a win for BAR in their debut season. The team was seemingly built around the needs and talents of their star driver, Canadian WDC Jacques Villeneuve. The other driver, Brazilian Ricardo Zonta, was another talented young hopeful in a formula where so many have fallen by the wayside. A multiple champion in other formulae, much was expected of Zonta as a ‘future star'.

Two seasons later, the dreams had turned into nightmares. BAR have come nowhere near the win they predicted, and Zonta's relationship with the team had soured to the point where he was dropped in favour of McLaren test driver Olivier Panis for the 2001 season.

JayWay has brought the case of Ricardo Zonta versus BAR to the Atlas F1 Court. This case will determine whether Zonta was treated unfairly at BAR, to the point where his on-track performance was negatively affected.

The Judgement

There are two distinct, but linked, elements which define this case. They are :

1) Was Ricardo Zonta treated unfairly by the BAR team?
2) If there was indeed unfair treatment, was this the primary causative factor in Zonta's below-par on-track performance?

In order to win this case, the Prosecution would have to show that both considerations apply, and that the first inextricably led to the second. I'll address these issues in turn.

Firstly, regarding ‘unfair treatment', there is a common misconception that Formula One teams are legally obliged to provide equal equipment and treatment to both drivers. There is the added misconception, fuelled by the mega-salaries and media adoration of stars like Michael Schumacher, that the teams are there to serve the drivers, and not the other way round. The bottom line is that the drivers are employees, albeit highly-paid and highly-visible employees, who are hired to serve the interests of the team first and foremost.

Formula One cars are essentially hand-made items. In order to remain at the competitive cutting edge, cars will customarily be upgraded several times during a season with new and different components. Cost and time constraints often make it impossible, especially for the less wealthy teams, to upgrade both cars simultaneously. Each new component also represents an unknown in terms of performance and reliability, so it makes sense to race-test it in only one car first.

The ‘unfair treatment' issue also extends to factors like testing time and personnel. No two race engineers are exactly alike. Even if two engineers have the same experience and level of expertise, they may have differing areas of specialisation - which may or may not suit the goals of the driver to whom they are assigned.

For their debut season in 1999, BAR hired two drivers at extreme ends of the scale - an experienced World Champion and a F1 rookie. In the strictest sense of the word, it may not have been ‘fair' that one received superior equipment, better personnel or more testing time. However, it is also not fair to ask a team to share resources equally between drivers, when one driver is so obviously more capable of delivering immediate results. Given the same two drivers, most Formula One teams would have favoured Villeneuve, whether through the provision of superior equipment and personnel or via longer testing time.

Ultimately, the BAR cars were neither reliable nor regularly competitive during the past two seasons. The differences between the two BAR cars' results seem to reflect the difference in experience, if not in talent, of the two drivers. As such, this Court finds nothing extraordinary nor unfair about the allocation of resources within the BAR team during the 1999 and 2000 seasons.

However, there is a rider to the ‘fair treatment' clause. Teams may allocate resources as they see fit in order to maximise their results, all within the bounds of ‘fair treatment'. Malicious handicapping of a driver, whether through deliberate neglect or sabotage, is another matter entirely. Anecdotal evidence has been provided to show that Zonta was, at times, treated in a dismissive or insulting manner by Jacques Villeneuve. The implication is that Villeneuve's influence within the team, and his long-term friendship with team principal Craig Pollock, would have caused Pollock to treat the Brazilian in a similar manner. On the other hand, there is also anecdotal evidence that the two drivers enjoyed a cordial relationship at times.

The deciding factor in my judgement is that Formula One is the pinnacle of single-seater motor sport. It is a formula where drivers come to perfect racing skills, not to learn them. Above all, it is a formula which centres around performance and results. When the results fail to meet expectations, frustrations and tempers will cause conflicts within the team. It was inevitable that Zonta would be affected to some degree by that conflict. Perhaps other team principals would have been more supportive of a rookie driver like Zonta in the same situation. However, I can find no evidence to support the notion that Craig Pollock was at any stage malicious in his treatment of Ricardo Zonta. The Brazilian may have preferred or even expected a more supportive environment. However, he could not demand it. He was hired to serve the team's best interests, not vice versa.

Bottom Line : Although BAR undoubtedly gave preferential treatment to Jacques Villeneuve, their treatment of Ricardo Zonta falls within the norms of established Formula One practice, and is thus not considered ‘unfair'.

The refutal of the first clause of this case renders the second clause redundant. I will nevertheless give my judgement on it for the purposes of closure.

Looking over the season records supplied by Bruce, it becomes clear that a significant percentage of Zonta's below-par performances stemmed from driver error. That can be attributed to nobody but Zonta himself. If he was trying to overdrive an uncompetitive and unreliable car into a higher race position than it merited, that is not BAR's fault. They did not deliberately give Zonta a dud machine, on the contrary it seems that Villeneuve's car was overall not measurably superior. Although Zonta's on-track performance was affected, so was Villeneuve's.

Perhaps Zonta's confidence and self-belief were shaken by the general atmosphere at BAR, and by the occasional contretemps with his team-mate and team principal. If so, the blame cannot be laid squarely on BAR. If anything, it indicates that Zonta was not quite ready for the rarefied atmosphere of Formula One.

In this case, we have a reasonable cause - Zonta was not given equal treatment at BAR. We also have a reasonable effect - his performance was affected by the quality of the machinery he drove. However, the case stipulated that cause and effect had to be inextricably linked. Clearly, they are not.

In conclusion, it was an accident of poor timing that a team with overambitious expectations should hire a rookie driver for their first two years in the formula. BAR were unable to provide either driver with a car worthy of their talents, and Zonta's lack of experience was a hindrance to his employer's progress. Both parties bear some blame in the breakdown of the working relationship, although neither can be blamed for acting maliciously. Fittingly, the breakdown of the relationship will also benefit both parties. As a test driver at Jordan, Zonta will enjoy the stability of a more established and competitive team, well known for supportive driver relationships. His replacement at BAR, Olivier Panis, is a seasoned veteran with the setup and development smarts to shorten BAR's learning curve. In such a win-win situation, it seems churlish to assign blame for what were no more or less than ‘rookie mistakes' - both by driver and team.

In the case of Ricardo Zonta versus BAR, the Court finds for the Defence.