A difficult situation for the A1 Team Switzerland in the battle for the title
8th and 4th grid positions for Neel Jani - two pole positions for Ireland
Qualifying for the two final A1GP races at Brands Hatch didn't quite go as planned for the Swiss team. With grid positions eight (sprint) and four (feature race), the situation for the battle for the title in the World Cup of Motorsport isn't excellent - and even less so bearing in mind that Ireland will be on pole both times. Portugal, the third title candidate, didn't do any better with fifth and ninth place.
"I am not too disappointed", said Neel Jani. "In the practice sessions, it became apparent that we weren't entirely competitive here. The understeering of the car and the loss of time in slow corners obviously have their effect on a single qualifying lap. Now, the only thing to do for us in the race is driving with maximum attack. Maybe, a suitable strategy will also allow us to catch up a little bit."
Portuguese Filipe Albuquerque had a similar problem as Swiss Neel Jani. Both are receiving technical support from the same crew. The Portuguese, too, were mainly too slow in the first section of the track. The cars of the Irish and the Dutch, who are also working together, have a much better handling.
Team principal Max Welti was happy with Jani's performance in qualifying for the sprint race, he said. "Of course, it is a long way from eighth on the grid up to the front, but we decided not yet to use the power boost function which is available for one single qualifying lap." Among the drivers who ran without the additional power boost, Jani was third fastest behind Irishman Adam Carroll and Dutch driver Jeroen Bleekemolen.
After that, the Swiss team decided to use the power boost in the first part of qualifying for the feature race already. "Indeed, that is not usual", Max Welti explained, "but we wanted to play it safe. At Brands Hatch, there is always the risk of a red flag. Such a situation would have been appropriate after the accident of the Brazilian driver. The fact that there were only yellow flags helped Ireland." Neel Jani initially was on top of the leaderboard. In the second session, he was only outpaced by the Irish, the Monegasque and the Dutch driver. The fact that the fire extinguisher activated itself in the Swiss car at the end turned out to be irrelevant.
Following the cancellation of the season finale, originally scheduled for Mexico on May 24th, but called off due to the swine flu, the decision in the battle for the title in the World Cup of Motorsport will fall in England on Sunday. Going into the two final rounds, the three remaining title candidates Switzerland, Ireland and Portugal are only six points apart. Now, the drop-score ruling will also come into effect. For every team, the worst total score from any two races at one venue will be dropped. For Switzerland, these currently are the four points won in the season opener at Zandvoort. Ireland and Portugal both had a non-score already and therefore don't have to drop any points.