Flying the flag today for all the A1GP competing nations was A1 Team Brasil when Bruno Junqueira completed this afternoon's qualifying session in the A1 spare car, sporting a livery covered in all the flags of the series. Bruno had to use the car...
Flying the flag today for all the A1GP competing nations was A1 Team Brasil when Bruno Junqueira completed this afternoon's qualifying session in the A1 spare car, sporting a livery covered in all the flags of the series. Bruno had to use the car after an accident in this morning's final practice. It was not possible to repair the Team Brasil car in time for qualifying so organisers permitted the squad to use the spare car.
The final practice this morning was extended to allow extra time for drivers to get to grips with the circuit after yesterday's session was cut short due to surface problems with the track. Bruno suffered several mechanical problems throughout the 70 minutes, including a part flying off inside the cockpit, and brake issues. However, he steadily improved his times throughout the session, and with minutes remaining he posted a time of 1:19.357, putting him up into ninth place. Feeling more comfortable in the car, Bruno pushed hard on his last few laps, but with just a minute remaining he pushed a bit too hard through the chicane, hitting the kerb, which sent him into the wall.
It was evident from the damage that it would not be possible to repair for qualifying, which was less than two hours later, so A1GP officials permitted the use of the spare car. This provided Bruno with a whole new set of problems for the four-part qualifying, as the pedals could not be repositioned in time, and he was barely able to reach them. It also meant no time to apply any useful set-up the car.
Even with all of these problems, Bruno put in an impressive performance, improving his lap times with each segment, and sitting in ninth place overall at the half-way point. He set even faster times of 1:18.985 and 1:18.724 in the third and fourth sectors respectively but, as has often been proven with the unique qualifying system that A1 uses, times are so close and competitive that Bruno still only finished in 18th position, despite his solid performance. He will therefore begin tomorrow's sprint race, which begins at 11am local time, from the ninth row of the grid.
Bruno Junqueira: "In practice this morning we had problems with the brakes and a piece falling off the car, but on my last outing I started picking up speed. But the tyres were very old, and with two laps to go I was pushing hard and just went a little bit wide. I could see I wasn't going to make the corner so I thought about going straight, but I knew I would break the front wing, so I tried to make the corner but hit the kerb hard and it put me out. I ended up crashing, which is a real shame because we were doing some good times. I was up to ninth on old tyres, so the car was getting better. So in qualifying I just jumped into this other car with no idea how it was going to feel. The pedals were too far away, the set-up wasn't good, the gears were all wrong and the engine seemed down on power. We didn't have any time to do any set-up on the car, it was only finished during the first segment, so I just went out. I improved on each run and after the second outing we were ninth. But this is a different qualifying format and you just seem to go down the order, even with improving your times, and we ended up 18th so it's a bit frustrating. We were pretty close, just a second off the leader on both of our best laps, so it's a shame we couldn't go at least into the top ten. It's not going to be an easy race tomorrow, but I hope I have a clean sprint race and can go forward to do a good feature race."
Fernando Paiva, Team Principal: "Bruno's doing a stellar job for us, and we didn't expect anything less. Unfortunately we had repeated mechanical problems this morning, which put him in a position that he wanted to push at the end and he made a mistake. But I'll take that anytime over a slow performance. In qualifying he had a car in which he could barely reach the pedals, although we have to thank the series operation for giving us the opportunity to take part in qualifying with this car, so we actually think he did a great job under the circumstances."